Skip to main content Skip to main navigation

Records of the Eucleian Society

Call Number

RG.39.1

Date

1832-1909, circa 1930s, inclusive

Creator

University of the City of New York. Eucleian Society

Extent

12.95 Linear Feet
in 13 boxes, 1 folder in a shared manuscript box, and 1 folder in a shared flat box

Language of Materials

Materials are in English

Abstract

The Eucleian Society was a literary society founded at the University of the City of New-York (New York University) in 1832, the year instruction began. It seems to have ceased around the 1940s. Literary societies were the major extracurricular activity of Jacksonian and mid-19th century colleges and universities. The Eucleian Society was dedicated to furthering the literary arts where members would assemble for one hour to hear debates between panels made up of members of the Society and were usually preceeded by readings of essays, orations, and poems. Shortly after its founding, the Society began printing orations and poems delivered by guest speakers at annual or anniversary meetings. In the 20th century, the Eucleians published The Knickerbocker, The Medley, and The Geyser. The collection includes the Society's records, membership lists, constitution, and minutes. The collection also includes copies of cartoons featured in the Medley.

Historical Note

The Eucleian Society apparently had its origins in the Adelphic Literary Sociey, one of two literary societies founded at the University of the City of New-York (New York University) in 1832, the year instruction began. The Eucleian Society seems to have succeeded the Adelphic in 1833 and is last mentioned in the University Heights Palisades handbook in 1942-43 and in the Violet yearbook in the 19th edition. It outlived the other literary society, the Philomathean, by some 50 years.

Literary societies were the major extracurricular activity of Jacksonian and mid-19th century colleges and universities. From its inception, the Eucleian Society was dedicated to furthering the literary arts. Every Friday afternoon, the members would assemble for one hour to hear debates between panels made up of members of the Society, who were assigned topics .* These debates were usually preceeded by readings of essays, orations, and poems. Annual and anniversary programs were also held. In addition to these intra-society activities, there were joint meetings with the Philomethean Society, with whom there was considerable rivalry. The first known joint meeting was held in 1835. Students were encouraged to join literary societies and participate in debating and oratory as part of their collegiate experience.

An early literary endeavor of the Eucleians was the establishment of their own library to supplement that of the University. Two lists of the Eucleian's library holdings are in this collection. The 177 item listing includes a copy of the Legacy of A. Ogden Butler for $2,500. The interest on this legacy appears to have been the financial base for the Society.

Shortly after its founding, the Society began printing orations and poems delivered by guest speakers at annual or anniversary meetings. The earliest known copy of such a publication is an 1835 address.

In the 20th century, the Eucleians sporadically published their own literary magazines. The Knickerbocker, described by its editors as "a small paper of a rather light character," appears only to have been issued twice, March 15, 1900 (vol. 1, no. 1) and Jan. 1901 (nos. 2 and 3). In 1913, the Eucleian Society launched The Medley, a humor magazine, at the University Heights campus. As of vol. 4 , no. 2 (Nov. 1916), reference to the Eucleian Society is dropped, publication apparently continued by the general student body. From 1926-28, the Eucleians sponsored The Geyser, another humor publication which seems to have lasted only for those few years. Copies of these publications and other Eucleian Society printed materials can be found in the New York University Archives (see attached list).

Sampling of Topics Discussed by the Eucleian Society, 1868 - 1872:

Is the right of suffrage a natural one?Is total abstinence preferable to temperance? (Decision: Affirmative)Resolved that adultery is the only true way to cohabit.Resolved that marriage as a civil contract be abolished. (Decision: Negative)Resolved that the passage of the General Amnesty Bill would be beneficialto the American. people. (Decision: Affirmative)Should the United States render aid to Cuba in her present effort to attain independence? (Decision: Affirmative)Is poverty favorable to the development of literary men?Should the immigration of Chinese be encouraged? (Decision: Negative)Resolved that capital punishment should be abolished. (Decision: Negative)Resolved that humanity is naturally depraved. (Decision: Affirmative)Resolved that the spendthrift is more injurious to society than the miser.That the joining of New York and Brooklyn under one government be advantageous to both cities. (Decision: Affirmative)Should the capital of large moneyed corporations be limited by statute? (Decision: Negative)Ought "marks" and prizes to be abolished in our colleges? (Decision: Negative)

From Literary Appointments Book, 1868-1873 (Box 12, Folder 7), Records of the Eucleian Society.

Arrangement

Folders are arranged by topic.

The files are grouped into five series. Series 1: Official Records and Correspondence (1832-1909); Series 2: Meetings (1834-1886); Series 3: Memorabilia (1863); Series 4: Joint Meetings (1835-1854); Series 5: Miscellaneous (undated); Series 6: The Medley (circa 1930s).

Scope and Content Note

Although a small and partial collection, the records of the Eucleian Society (1832-1909) are particularly valuable because there are few other remaining sources of information about the Eucleians. The researcher should consult the historical volume (volume 1) of Universities and their Sons at New York University, by Chancellor Henry M. MacCracken and Professor Ernest G. Sihler, 1901 (available in the N.Y.U. Archives), pp. 78-80 esp., for a description of the Eucleians' early years and of the room assigned to the Society in the original University Building at Washington Square. Also see the finding aid for the Records of the Philomathean Society in the New York University Archives.

The Society's records also offer primary source material for New York University's literary societies, particularly for the 1830s to mid 1890s. Minutes and programs of meetings, membership rosters, lists of topics of debates (unfortunately no records of the actual debates remain), and memorabilia make up the bulk of the collection. Although the documents date from 1832 to 1904, there are many gaps. For example, the minutes only run from 1840-1869 and 1880-1895.

The records have been arranged in four series:

Series 1: Official Records and Correspondence (1832-1904)

Mostly bound volumes of manuscript material, including the Adelphic Society documents. Minutes, treasurer's accounts, pledge roles, constitutions and by-laws, membership invitations, court minutes, attendance records, farewell addresses, and acceptance speeches.

Series 2: Meetings (1834-1886)

Programs of meetings, a list of orators for 1866, appointment book for debates (1868-1873), published addresses delivered at meetings, appointment slips (1879-1886), invitations, and tickets.

Series 3: Memorabilia (1863)

There is one pin with an accompanying letter.

Series 4: Joint Meetings (1835-1854)

Published addresses delivered at joint meetings of the Eucleian and Philomathean Societies , invitation cards, and New York Daily Times review (June 27, 1894)

Series 5: Miscellaneous (undated)

Contains a list of Eucleian and Philomathean Society publication.

Series 6: The Medley

Contains cartoons related to The Medley.

Access Restrictions

Institutional records of New York University are closed for a period of 20 years from the date of their creation (the date on which each document was written). Board of Trustees records are similarly closed for 35 years from the date of creation. The opening date for files spanning several years will be 20 years from the most recent date. Access will be given to material already 20 years old contained within a collection that is not yet open when such material can be isolated from the rest of the collection. Materials related to personnel, faculty grievances, job searches and all files with information that falls under the University's Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) policy are permanently restricted.

Use Restrictions

Some materials may be restricted. Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the:
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2641
E-mail: university-archives@nyu.edu

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Records of the Eucleian Society; RG 39.1; box number; folder number; New York University Archives.

Provenance

Dr. Theodore Jones acquired the materials at the University Heights campus, but there is no record of when or from whom they were acquired.

Materials found in Series 6: The Medley were transferred from the New York University Archives Photograph Collection (PHOTO.00001) in May 2024. The accession number associated with this accretion is 2024.035.

Related Material at the New York University Archives

Records of the Philomathean Society (RG 39.2)

Collection processed by

Processed by Stuart Sammis and NYU Archives Staff

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-05-10 16:56:22 -0400.
Language: Description is in English.

Processing Information

A large portion of the collection was rehoused by the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department in January-March 2018. The finding aid for the collection was subsequently revised by John Zarrillo in March 2018.

In May 2024, cartoons were transferred from New York University Archives Photograph Collection (PHOTO.00001). These materials were added to Series 6: The Medley. The accession number associated with this accretion is 2024.035.

Revisions to this Guide

March 2018: Finding aid revised by John Zarrillo
May 2024: A new series, Series 6: The Medley, was created by Aki Snyder to house a 2024 accretion.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from The Eucleian Society.doc

Repository

New York University Archives
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012