The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Orpheus Club Records
Collection Number: M409
Dates: 1918 - 1986
Volume: 1.35 cubic feet
The Orpheus Club was established by seven, female students from Hattiesburg High School in 1916. The club engaged in civic activities, social events, charitable activities, and literary study. The Orpheus Club Constitution notes that the purpose of the club was to create a “united effort toward peace, charity and higher development,” (Article II). The club flower was the jonquil, and its colors were green and gold. Membership was limited to 25 females. Married women were eventually allowed to join the club and the mothers, daughters, granddaughters, and daughters-in-law of members were soon regarded as honorary members. Honorary members were allowed to attend some special meetings of the club, like the spring picnic.
The club’s season ran from August to May, and a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer were elected each year, in March, to serve the following year. In about 1950, the club started electing a reporter to report meetings to the newspaper. The president appointed the committees on finances, yearbooks, programs, and courtesy, and in the beginning, the club met every two weeks. Later on, they met one Saturday out of every month. In 1981-1982, the club voted to meet four times a year.
Presentations on various topics were featured regularly at club meetings. Originally, each presenter was assigned a date and topic by the president. Presentation titles were included on the calendars in early club yearbooks, but this practice was discontinued in later years. Presentation topics varied widely, from literature reviews to decorating techniques. History and international affairs were also common topics. Some seasons had themes like “Contemporary Drama”, “Biographies of Famous Figures”, “Latin America” and “Nobel Prize Winners”.
1984 was the last year that the club printed yearbooks. During the 1983-1984 year, the members voted to cut back to two meetings a year due to a small number of participating members. In 1986, the club’s last meeting took place at the Hattiesburg Country Club.
Contents of the Collection.
This collection includes records of Orpheus Club activities from 1926 to 1986. The collection is organized in five series, by subject area. The five series are: Yearbooks, Constitution, Finances, Minutes, and Miscellaneous Materials.
Series I, Orpheus
Club Yearbooks, is divided according to material type into two subseries:
Orpheus Club Yearbooks (1926-1947) and Orpheus Club Yearbooks (1948-1986).
The Yearbooks from 1926-1947 are similar to each other in that they all
share a book format comprised of multiple pages bound together in some
fashion. However, there is great diversity among these resources in content
and form. Some of the early yearbooks are handmade and bound with ribbon
or cord through holes in the side or top of pages. Later yearbooks in
this subseries are printed and stapled. Many of the yearbooks in Subseries
One contain lists of officers, members, committees, and honorary members.
All contain the calendar for the year that includes the date, place, hostess,
presenter, and subject matter of each meeting, along with any titles given
to presentations, or themes for the year. Some of these yearbooks also
list discussion topics for each presentation, or have handwritten notes
regarding the discussion that occurred. Some of the yearbooks from this
subseries present selected quotes at the beginning of the book, and others
list facts like the club flower, establishment date, and club colors.
A few of the yearbooks in this subseries include a copy of the club constitution
or a section for notes in the back of the book. A couple of the earliest
yearbooks in this subseries include newspaper clippings from the society
page of the Hattiesburg American that describe specific meetings
or other club activities. Due to the delicate nature of the yearbooks,
researchers are encouraged to use the photocopies at the end of the subseries,
rather than the originals. The photocopies are duplicates of the originals
on acid-free paper with notations that describe the appearance and binding
of the original.
Series II, Orpheus Club Constitution, contains two copies of the Orpheus Club Constitution (January 2, 1950 edition). The first folder in this series contains an original constitution from the Orpheus Club. The second folder is a photocopy of the original. The constitution details the club’s goals, rules, fines, and purpose. It also deals with membership selection procedures and provides a layout of the club’s structure (officers, committees, etc.).
Series III, Orpheus Club Finances, comprises four folders containing financial records of the club from 1947-1984. Included are two small financial ledgers that record dues and expenditures from 1947-1984; receipts for financial transactions from 1960 through the early 1980s; two receipt books (1959-1962 and 1962); and an undated financial report.
Series IV, Orpheus Club Minutes, includes the minutes of club meetings from 1918-1986. The series includes original minutes and photocopies. The originals appear first in chronological order, followed by the photocopies in chronological order. Of particular interest is a typed copy of the minutes for April 27, 1918, which reflect the culture of time. Due to the fragility of some of the original, researchers are asked to assist in preserving the originals by using the photocopies.
Series V, Miscellaneous Materials, is grouped by material type. It includes club correspondence, newspaper clippings, and miscellany. Correspondence includes party invitations, thank-you notes, and letters to the club from businesses or organizations that sought their support. Newspaper clippings from the Hattiesburg American give details on specific meetings, club activities, officer elections, and club members. Some of the clippings are articles about wedding or engagement announcements of Orpheus Club members, or bridal dinners and showers given to and by Orpheus Club members. Miscellany includes a variety of materials that did not fit into other series of the collection, such as officer and member lists, book marks, a photograph of an unidentified young woman, information pertaining to the 50th anniversary of the club, an application for membership in the Hattiesburg Little Theatre, a flyer for the 1960 Dance Concert at Mississippi Southern College, and two small envelopes containing ballots from secret ballot elections.
Subseries One: Orpheus Club Yearbooks (1926-1947)
Subseries One: Original Minutes
Folder 8: Orpheus
Club Minutes (1918; 1940-1941). Original.
Subseries Two: Photocopied Minutes