Adelphic Society records

MSS 206
2.25 linear feet (6 boxes)


Augustana College and Theological Seminary (Rock Island, Ill.). Adelphic Society.


English, Swedish


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection

Access points:

Augustana College and Theological Seminary (Rock Island, Ill.). Adelphic Society.
Literature--Societies, etc.

Finding aid prepared by:

Sandra S. Weber, 1975. Revised by Emily Hughes Dominick, 2007. Revised by Sarah Horowitz, 2012.


Augustana College Special Collections
Thomas Tredway Library
639 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois 61201

Acquisition Information
Historical Note
Scope and Content
System of Arrangement
Box List
Related Collections





The Adelphic Society was the younger of the two literary societies that flourished on the Augustana College campus during the early decades of its existence. The Adelphic Society was organized by the students in the fall of 1882, its first meeting taking place on October 14, 1882. The society was recognized by the faculty on February 8, 1884, and was officially incorporated under the laws of the state of Illinois on May 12, 1884. Its sister organization on campus was the Phrenokosmian Society which had been organized in 1860. In 1913, the Adelphic Society became of member of the Illinois Association of Literary Societies.

According to the 1884 articles of incorporation, the purpose of the Adelphic Society was to work for the "improvement in mental culture and in speaking and writing the English and Swedish languages, and the formation of a library." The society held weekly meetings in the evening during which essays, debates, orations, declamations, criticisms, and musical presentations were given. The first exercise of the Adelphic Society was a lecture in Swedish by Professor C. P. Rydholm entitled "The Manuscripts of the New Testament."

All Augustana students were eligible for membership in the society, and the meetings were open to all interested persons. Honorary memberships were also available for those outside of the college community. The offices of President, Vice-President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, and Librarian were contested monthly. A new Treasurer was elected bi-monthly. All dues collected went toward the purchase of new books for the Adelphic library.

In 1887 the Adelphic Society began to edit the "Censor," a semi-monthly newspaper that contained articles of interest to the student body in both Swedish and English. From 1883 to 1905, the society conducted all meetings alternately in Swedish and English. The constitution changed in 1906, however, to make only English the official of the organization. In 1913, the Adelphic Orchestra was added to the society's activities.

The Phrenokosmian and Adelphic Societies occupied the Augustana campus as friendly rivals of a sort. The 1890-91 school catalog states that "A wholesome rivalry exists between the two societies, and yet they work together in the greatest harmony and good will." At the beginning of each school term the two groups would get together to hold a reception for the new students, "to furnish an opportunity for new students to become acquainted with the rest of the school-family as soon as possible" (1917-18 Augustana catalog). The Phrenokosmian and Adelphic Societies also joined with the Concordia, the literary society for the Theological Seminary students, to form the Lyceum, the culturally minded group which published the Augustana Observer and sponsored lectures and concerts for the campus.

The two literary societies were extremely popular on the campus during the early decades after their founding, but they began to suffer a decline after the turn of the century. As social fraternities and sororities began to emerge around 1915, the literary societies fell in popularity with the students, and membership sharply fell off. The Adelphic Society ceased listing itself in the school catalog in 1927, and the Phrenokosmian followed suit shortly thereafter. The Adelphic Society faded away through lack of support.



This collection has been arranged into four series: Organizational papers, Financial records, Publications, and Miscellaneous.

The Organizational papers (1882-1923) series consists of the official documents of the Adelphic Society, its Constitution, By-Laws, and Rules of Order, both in manuscript and published form. It also contains the original certification document from the state of Illinois, May 12, 1884. The bulk of this series consists of Secretary's minutes and roll call lists.

The Financial records (1883-1929) series contains four bound Treasurer's notebooks dating from 1883-1902 and 1915-1920. These books all contain indices, with individual financial reports for each member of the society. Treasurer's reports are also included for some years. This series also contains receipts and vouchers as well as bank books.

The Publications (1888-1914) series contains three bound books as well as loose issues of the newspaper "Censor." All issues are written by hand rather than printed.

The Miscellaneous (1889-1918) series includes programs and tickets for Adelphic Society events. Also in this series is material relating to the Phreno-Adelphic contests for the years 1915-1918.



Generally organized chronologically within each series.



Box 1
      Organizational papers
            Constitutional and By-Laws [2 folders]
            Secretary's roll call book, 1883-1893
            Secretary's roll call list, 1905
            Secretary's roll call book, 1916-1917
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1882-1885 [oversize: in box 2]
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1885-1890 [oversize: in box 2]
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1890-1896 [oversize: in box 2]
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1896-1909 [oversize: in box 3]
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1910-1920 [oversize: in box 3]
            Minutes, 1903-1904, 1915
            Secretary's book, 1922-1923

      Financial records
            Financial reports, 1901-1919
            Dues list, 1914 and undated
            Bank books, 1913, 1917
            Book of vouchers and receipts, 1903-1904
            Receipts, vouchers, paid out notes, 1892-1929 and undated
            Treasurer's book, 1883-1889 [oversize: in box 3]
            Treasurer's book, 1889-1892 [oversize: in box 3]
            Treasurer's book, 1893-1902 [oversize: in box 3]
            Treasurer's book, 1915-1920 [oversize: in box 3]

      Miscellaneous articles
            Programs, invitations, and tickets, 1889-1917 and undated
            Ph reno-Adelphic contest materials, 1915-1918

Box 2 [oversize]
      Organizational papers
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1882-1885
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1885-1890
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1890-1896

Box 3 [oversize]
      Organizational papers (continued)
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1896-1909
            Adelphic Society minutes, 1910-1920

Box 4 [oversize]
      Financial records
            Treasurer's book, 1883-1889
            Treasurer's book, 1889-1892
            Treasurer's book, 1893-1902
            Treasurer's book, 1915-1920

Box 5
            Censor, 1888-1895

Box 6
            Censor, 1895-1914



Phrenokosmian Society records, MSS 214; Lyceum records, MSS 208


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