At a Monday lunch this spring, Willard Library Executive Director Greg Hager left with two banker’s boxes neatly packed with more than a century’s worth of notes. Filled with bound books of minutes, pictures, and bags of program booklets, the boxes were taken to the Willard Archives room, a donation from the organization that meticulously recorded and gathered the information — the Social Literary Circle.
Ladies of the Social Literary Circle have met in Evansville for almost 116 years not only to socialize, but also learn about and discuss the world over lunch. At the time of its founding in November 1901, female college graduates were few in numbers. This small group of ladies took it upon themselves to educate one another and eventually take up social causes for the betterment of the community.
In April, the group collectively voted to donate the records of the circle to the Willard Library Archives for the public to share in the history. The records will be cataloged and kept in the Willard Archives room in acid-free boxes and folders to help prevent or slow damage to the materials. The circle also can continue to add items to the collection.
“The most important part of history isn’t the where or the why,” says Hager, “It’s the who. This is where this type of information is invaluable.”
Today, the spirit of the Social Literary Circle founders lives on in its current members, who still are active in writing, publishing, art, philanthropy, and volunteerism.
“These ladies would be proud to know we still are meeting and following some of the same rules,” says member Katie Waters, an art professor at the University of Southern Indiana and a SLC member since 2001.
Before the ladies packed up the boxes to send with Hager, Waters suggested member Susan Enlow, whose grandmother and mother also were members, read aloud the minutes from the first Social Literary Circle meeting to honor the founders.
“Nov. 4, 1901. By request, seven ladies met at the home of Mrs. John L. Hubbs for the purpose of organizing for sociability and improvement…”