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Salem Fraternity Records

Salem Fraternity Records

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Salem Fraternity (Salem, Mass.)
Title:Salem Fraternity Records
Quantity:1 linear foot (3 boxes)
Abstract:The Salem Fraternity Records document the 19th-century activities of this Salem, Massachusetts, organization.
Collection Number:MSS 280

Series List

SERIES I. Miscellaneous Papers
SERIES II. Record Books

Scope and Content Note

The Salem Fraternity Records document the 19th-century activities of this Salem, Massachusetts, organization. The collection has been divided into two series.

Series I. Miscellaneous Papers includes reports of meetings, membership lists, a handwritten copy of the articles of association, circulars and announcements, and correspondence.

Series II. Record Books consists of the Secretary's record book which includes minutes of meetings; the book acquisition record, which lists donations and purchases of books and magazines; the Night School record book listing scholars, teachers, and subjects taught; and five volumes of record books which contain the aims of the society, articles of association, constitution, roll of members, committees, and the numbers of people using facilities.

For an item-level description, see original finding aid dated 1995.

Historical Sketch

The Salem Fraternity was founded on April 21, 1869, in the Downing Building at 175 Essex Street, Salem, Massachusetts, for the purpose of furnishing young people of both sexes in Salem and its vicinity a place to spend their leisure time, to provide opportunities for self-improvement, to help them obtain employment and suitable housing, to engage in active benevolent work, and to aid young persons and strangers in the city. The organization was incorporated in 1875.

The Salem Fraternity was managed by a "Board of Control" consisting of the president, the treasurer, and the clerk (chosen annually), and fifteen directors (five chosen each year for a term of three years), all elected by the corporators at the annual meeting in October. The detail work was handled by a superintendent (a paid position) appointed by the Board of Control. The first superintendent was Stephen Ives Dugan, who had previously been engaged in Boys' Club work under Reverend Edward Everett Hale. The Fraternity was staffed by volunteers.

Activities offered by the Salem Fraternity included a gymnasium, cobbling, debating, glee club, drawing, stamp saving, and a library. Facilities consisted of a library, amusement room, school, two work rooms and, for a time, a women's room. Although founded originally to provide facilities for both sexes, it eventually became primarily a boys' club.

The Fraternity was established and conducted by means of funding and bequests by friends who saw the value of the work conducted by the Fraternity in the community.

At various times, summer camps for boys were operated at the Prescott homestead, Hampton Fall, New Hampshire; Potato Island, Rowley; and at Hog Island. The success of these camps led to the establishment of a permanent camp at Sawyer's Island, Rowley, and to the purchase of the property in 1905.

A night school was operated by volunteer teachers with subjects including reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, bookkeeping, Latin, grammar, history, geography, and composition.

During the years 1898 and 1899 the Salem Fraternity occupied the second floor of the Lyceum Building on Church Street. In 1899, the Bank Building at 11 Central Street was purchased.

For 15 years, the Salem Fraternity operated the only free library in Salem until 1899, when the Public Library was established.

In 1906, the national organization, Boys Clubs of America was established. Under the initial charter there were fourteen established youth services organizations from across the nation, including the Salem Fraternity for Boys. In 1990 the word "Girls" was officially added to the name of the National Organization and the Club became the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Acquisitions (Libraries)--Massachusetts--Salem
Boys--Societies and clubs
Evening and continuation school students--Massachusetts--Salem
Evening and continuation schools--Massachusetts--Salem
Girls--Societies and club
Young adults' libraries--Massachusetts--Salem
Salem (Mass.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Salem Fraternity Records, MSS 280, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The Secretary's record book was deposited by Mr. Farwell of the Salem Fraternity on September 5, 1933. The record books were presented by the Salem Fraternity on May 25, 1910. The provenance of the remainder of the material is unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Marion Clark, November 1995. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, December 2015.

Related Material

"History." Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem. Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

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