Harman Literary Society

Harman Literary Society, 1923

The Harman Literary Society was founded on October 21, 1896.  The original fifteen members gathered in the parlor of Lloyd Hall to formulate a constitution and decide upon a name. Someone suggested, perhaps facetiously, that they name their organization after Professor Henry Harman, a member of the Class of 1848 and a staunch opponent of coeducation, particularly at Dickinson. The suggestion met with approval, and several members duly approached the retired professor about naming their society after him. While he might not have approved of women at Dickinson, much less their founding of an intellectual organization, Harman good-naturedly did permit the use of his name for the society. Thus on November 12, 1896, the constitution was adopted and the Harman Literary Society became an official organization on campus.

A year after its establishment, the society fell dormant, as the enrollment of women to the College dropped and the active members of the society became involved in other activities that prevented their regular attendance at meetings. The society was revived in 1900 by thirteen college women led by Josephine Brunyate '01. To ensure its continued survival the new Harman Literary Society enacted strict regulations regarding attendance and activity. Attendance was mandatory and those who missed a meeting were fined for their absence. The activities of the group expanded beyond discussion of written works to debates over current events and some original composition, which the members published in their own magazine entitled The Salmagundi. A regular meeting time and place was established in Denny Hall during the first period in the afternoon, though the meeting time was later changed to ten o’clock on Saturday mornings.

The establishment of a regular meeting time and place allowed the organization to further identify itself among the other literary societies on campus such as the Belles Lettres Society and Union Philosophical Society. The society adopted a Grecian lamp encircled by laurels for an emblem and the motto “We study for light, to bless with light” (shown above). The group continued to be an active campus organization until it dissolved in 1935.

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Dickinson College Archives
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