Collection of the Month: The Haverford Loganian Society

A newly processed College Archive collection sheds light on one of Haverford’s first and longest student-run club, the Haverford Loganian Society.

Posted on March 11, 2016

The Haverford Loganian Society.

By Grace Thiele '17

The Haverford Loganian Society was one of Haverford's first and longest running clubs, founded on principles that defined the intended Haverfordian experience. With the intent that members be, "sensible of the great influence of sound learning in disciplining the mind and maturing the understanding; and desirous of cultivating in each other a correct taste in Literature, and a love for scientific pursuits," the Loganian Society assembled with the hopes of refining and enriching their understanding of the world around them. Much of their focus was placed on composition and elocution, targeted through scholarly essay writing and public speaking exercises. The group was open to both students and faculty, but was primarily a student-led organization with various officers and administration elected by the students at the start of each year.

The Loganian Society was responsible for a significant amount of activities and resources around campus during Haverford's early years. Members held public meetings featuring designated student speakers, organized publications of student work, facilitated debates with nearby schools like the University of Pennsylvania, managed large collections of books and art, and maintained a campus-wide garden. The Loganian Society's major and most notable publication is perhaps The Collegian, an annual series of collected essays and original works produced throughout each academic year. The Museum and Library of the Loganian Society contained an expansive and diverse collection of materials which served as priceless resources to students. The management of the Garden proved to be a significant and valuable contribution to the campus as a whole. As the group aged into the 20th century it moved away from publication and transitioned into becoming a debate club.

The Haverford Loganian Society records have a wide variety of forms and topics, and demonstrate the magnitude of the organization during its peak. Within the Society there were many subcommittees, spanning a multitude of academic disciplines ranging from Ornithology to Philosophy, and also responsible for several more frivolous recreational activities or events. For instance, the Ball Alley Committee was instituted in 1853 with the purpose of managing and promoting bowling within the Loganian Society. Though broad in subject area, the Loganian Society also carries a notable level of depth of material. Over their 70 years of operation, the Loganian Society produced nearly 37 large volumes of The Collegian, constituted entirely by original student work. Pages from student drafts of essays and speeches are a testament to the amount of work and commitment members of the Loganian Society put towards the mission of enriching their mind and furthering their understanding of the world. As noted by the Council of the Loganian Society, "what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well."

Some particularly interesting documents worth taking a look at include the minutes surrounding the temporary closing of Haverford's campus towards the end of the 1840s. The Gardener's Plan drafted on wallpaper around 1845 is also an interesting visual document, though the plans were never actualized. The materials related to the Garden are rich with information, and give a glimpse at the early Greenhouse managed by students and faculty for the overall betterment of campus. The Account of the Trial of the Carpenter Shop Managers, written in 1854, is a highly detailed account of some of the first conflicts associated with the Loganian Society. Overall, the Haverford Loganian Society records give a unique perspective on Haverford's early years, and the values underpinning its evolution forward.