Table of Contents

Overview of the Collection

Historical Information

Scope and Contents

List of Charter Members

Past Presidents

Annual Topics

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Items

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Administrative Information

Series Description

Series 1: Publications

Series 2: Administration

Series 3: Photographs and other

Contents List

Plainfield Public Library
Sesame Club Records
[1865--1980]


"Progress is the law of life, Strength united is stronger."
club portrait 1919
Club members on Mrs. Besler's porch, 1919

Part of the Local Organizations Collection at the Plainfield Public Library
Finding aid prepared and encoded by Sarah Hull in February 2009


Overview of the Collection
Repository: Plainfield Public Library, Local History Department, 800 Park Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060
Creator: The Sesame Club
Title: Papers of the Sesame Club
Dates: 1865 - 1980, with gaps. Bulk dates 1908 to 1979.
Quantity:

2 linear feet of records
Comprised of 4 boxes:
Two (2) 51/4" x 101/2”x 12" document cases
One (1)) 61/2" x 41/2" x 12" index storage box
One (1) 51/4" x 101/2" x 15" legal document case

Abstract: The Papers of the Sesame Club document the creation and history of the Club from 1865 to 1980.  The collection includes a variety of record types, including the Club’s annual activity programs, administrative records, such as meeting minutes and roll books, a series of newspaper clippings, and several photographs that document early Club events.  There are also two copies of the Club’s namesake book, “Sesame & Lilies.”
Language: The records are in English.

Historical Information

The Sesame Club, one of Plainfield’s oldest literary clubs, was organized on November 10, 1904.  The name comes from John Ruskin’s “Sesame and Lilies” - the first book read by the club.  Three local ladies, Mrs. Stephen H. Voorhees, Mrs. Louis H. Ross, and Mrs. William M. Sandford, are credited with founding the club, which began with twenty-five members.  Each year, the club focused on a reading topic, such as a particular author, place or time period, and members prepared programs on it and would review a book or read a paper.  Past subjects included: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rome, and a Winter in Florence. Sometimes members would bring special guests, with topical knowledge or experience, to speak at club meetings. Current events would be discussed at each meeting, which would continue with a planned program. For example, in 1911-12 the annual focus was on Famous Americans; weekly programs consisted of: historians, journalists, humorists, Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Lowell, musicians, essayists, dialect writers, and so on.

Charter members of the Club agreed to meet every Thursday morning from 10am to 11:45am.  The first half hour would be devoted to the roll call and interesting current events; the remainder of the morning would be spent in reading and study.  It was the object of the club, “unanimously expressed by the members, that there shall be as little routine as possible and as much absence of formality, so that [the] meetings may be a place where they [could] come with their work and their books, contributing what they can to the general knowledge, and go away feeling that they have been helped by what they have heard from others and that the morning [had] been as profitable as well as a pleasurable one.” (Source: Secretary’s and Treasurer’s Book, page one; November 10, 1904; "The Papers of the Sesame Club,” Box 2, Folder 8; Local History Department, Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield, New Jersey)

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Scope and Contents

The Papers of the Sesame Club include a variety of historical material spanning from 1865 to 1980, with the bulk of records dating between 1908 to1979.  Record types include: annual club programs, constitution and by-laws, roll books, minutes, membership and officer lists, newspaper clippings, photographs, miscellaneous club documents and two books.

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List of Charter Members, 1904

Mrs. J. L. Brownlee
Mrs. Edward Caldwell
Mrs. Arthur H Chamberlain
Mrs. H. T. B. Chase
Mrs. Thomas R. Cone
Mrs. Arthur E. Crone
Mrs. John H. Doane
Mrs. Charlotte W. Foster
Mrs. J. H. McEldowney
Mrs. Frank T. Ostrom
Miss Louise Patten
Mrs. Louis R. Ross
Mrs. William M. Sandford
Miss Pauline May Sandford
Mrs. G. Studart Simons
Mrs. Walter P. Veysey
Mrs. Stephen H. Voorhees

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Past Presidents, 1904-1980
 

Name

Dates

 

Mrs. Stephen H. Voorhees

1904-05

 

Mrs. Charles W. Tennant

1905-06

 

Mrs. Charles W. Tennant

1906-11

 

Mrs. Frederick M. Genung

1911-14

 

Mrs. H.T.B. Chase

1914-16

 

Miss Louise Meyer

1916-18

 

Mrs. Adolph De Leeuw

1918-21

 

Mrs. Oliver C. Johnson

1921-22

 

Mrs. Charles Rice

1922-25

 

Mrs. Stephen H. Voorhees

1925-26

 

Mrs. Arthur S. Knight

1926-28

 

Mrs. William C Hubbard

1928-30

 

Mrs. L. Randolph

1930-32

 

Mrs. Allan B. Stearns

1932-34

 

Mrs. G. Stuart Simons

1934-36

 

Miss Elsie Suffern

1936-38

 

Mrs. Arthur E. Crone

1938-40

 

Mrs. C.J. Hellen

1940-42

 

Mrs. B. Colwell Davis

1942-44

 

Mrs. Howard W. Boise

1944-46

 

Mrs. Harriet Satterfield

1946-48

 

Mrs. Louise Bradshaw

1948-50

 

Mrs. Frank Lobaugh

1950-52

 

Mrs. Fred Ruch

1952-54

 

Mrs. James LaPoe

1954-56

 

Mrs. Jesse S. Brown

1956-58

 

Mrs. Carl G. Hartman

1958-60

 

Mrs. L. Harrison North

1960-62

 

Mrs. Horace Bunker

1962-64

 

Mrs. William F. LeCraw

1964-66

 

Mrs. William Marsh

1966-68

 

Mrs. Carryll Dunovan

1968-70

 

Miss Jane Brower

1970-71

 

Mrs. Marjorie Crane

1971-72

 

Miss Adèle De Leeuw

1972-74

 

Mrs. L. Harrison North

1974-76

 

Dr. Florence Fitzpatrick

1976-78

 

Mrs. Paul O’Hara

1978-80

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Annual Topics, 1904-05 to 1979-80

 

Year End

Topic

 

1905

Ruskin

 

1906

Emerson

 

1907

A Winter in Florence

 

1908

England

 

1909

England

 

1910

Germany

 

1911

Rome

 

1912

Famous Americans

 

1913

A Winter in America

 

1914

Holland-Schiller

 

1915

France

 

1916

France

 

1917

Miscellaneous Program

 

1918

New Jersey – Modern Writers

 

1919

Japan – Drama – Book Reviews

 

1920

Romance of Indians – Drama – Book Reviews

 

1921

South America – New Movements

 

1922

Recent Biographies – Character Sketches

 

1923

Biography and Modern Poetry

 

1924

Miscellaneous Subjects – Noted People – Noted Books

 

1925

Russia

 

1926

American Spirit in Literature – Spain – Poland – Sweden

 

1927

London – Put of the Way Possessions – Recent Books

 

1928

India – Recent Books

 

1929

Sesame’s Own Book Shelf

 

1930

The “Flavor of Ireland”

 

1931

Scotland – American Early Furniture

 

1932

Spain

 

1933

Scandinavia

 

1934

The Sesame Caravan

 

1935

Where Rivers Flow

 

1936

Where Go The Roads

 

1937

Our Next Door Neighbor, Mexico – This Changing World

 

1938

My Country

 

1939

It’s My Land, and Your Land

 

1940

The Continent of Promise – South America

 

1941

Our Northern Neighbor – Canada

 

1942

A Search for Something Abiding

 

1943

China, Yesterday and Today

 

1944

Patterns of the Pacific

 

1945

Relaxations – Miscellaneous Subjects

 

1946

Russia and Her Neighbors

 

1947

Our United States

 

1948

Our Country

 

1949

America in Today’s World

 

1950

Africa

 

1951

The Mysterious Sea

 

1952

Food for Thought

 

1953

The Air Around Us

 

1954

The Contemporary Scene

 

1955

The Contemporary Scene

 

1956

Browsing Among Books

 

1957

New World – New Ways

 

1958

Sesame Sampler

 

1959

The British Isles

 

1960

The British Commonwealth

 

1961

Germany

 

1962

European Influences

 

1963

Islands of the World

 

1964

Nature

 

1965

Literature 1950-1965

 

1966

Biographies of Interesting Women

 

1967

To America With Love

 

1968

Cities of the World

 

1969

Frontiers of Today’s Society

 

1970

Frontiers of Today’s Society Continued

 

1971

Sesame at Ease

 

1972

Things Beautiful

 

1973

Quest for Adventure

 

1974

Isms

 

1975

Tapestry of the United States

 

1976

Tapestry of the United States Continued

 

1977

Philosophers

 

1978

Biographies

 

1979

The World Around Us

 

1980

The World Around Us Part II (75th Anniversary)

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Arrangement

The Papers of the Sesame Club are arranged into four series:

Series 1: Publications (annual club programs, event programs)
Series 2: Administration (constitution and by-laws, roll books, meeting minutes, membership and officer lists)
Series 3: Newspaper Clippings
Series 4: Photographs and other (books and miscellaneous club documents)

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Access and Use

Restrictions on Access

The Papers of the Sesame Club are available for research.

Access is restricted to materials prepared by the Local History department staff. All materials must be viewed in the Plainfield Room and may not be removed to another area of the library without permission of the Library Director or designee. Materials must be handled carefully and kept in order. Materials must not be leaned upon, altered, folded, ripped, or traced upon. Marks may not be added or erased from materials. Materials must be returned directly to Local History department staff and inspected before the researcher leaves the Plainfield Room.

Restrictions on Use

One photocopy may be made (by Plainfield Public Library staff) of each document for the purpose of research; official Local History departmental reproduction fees may apply. Permission to publish must be obtained by the Plainfield Public Library Board of Trustees as delegated to the Library Director. Permission to publish does not constitute a copyright clearance. The researcher is responsible for further copyright restrictions. The Plainfield Public Library is not responsible for the misuse of copyrighted material

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Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Organizations:

Sesame Club

Places:

Plainfield (N.J.)--History

Subjects:

Ladies Clubs
Literary Clubs

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Related Items

The following published books are included in this collection (box 4):

Riskin, John. Sesame and Lilies: two lectures delivered at Manchester in 1864. New York : John Wiley & Son, 1865.

Riskin, John. Sesame and Lilies. Philadelphia : Henry Altemus, 1899.

Plainfield Public Library’s local history photograph collection, Grimstead G-722.

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection consists of paper documents, photographs and ephemera which do not require any additional technology for access.  Two negatives are included in the collection, and require a light box/table for optimal viewing.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Identification of item; Date (if noted); The Papers of the Sesame Club, Box and Folder Number; Local History Department, Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield, New Jersey.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated in 2003 by the Sesame Club.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Sarah Hull in February 2009. The finding aid was written by Sarah Hull in January 2009. Finding aid content follows the guidelines suggested by Describing Archives: A Content Standard.

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Series Description of the Collection
Series 1: Publications [1906-1979]

annual program

Series Description
Series 1 contains documents published and/or distributed by the Sesame Club. It includes the club’s annually-printed programs. Each member would receive a small, bound program listing the weekly reading and discussion topics. Also in this series is an oversized, annual luncheon program from 1939. It is composed solely of paper documents – some with handwritten notes in the margins or on the cover. There are no programs for the first two Club years – 1904 and 1905.

Arrangement
Series 1 is arranged chronologically and fills one box, with the exception of the larger material that is held in box 4.

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Series 2: Administrative Records [1904--1979]

meeting minutes

Series Description
Series 2 contains the administrative records of the Club. This series includes: printed constitution and by-laws, secretary and treasurer books, four (4) bound roll books, bound and unbound minutes, membership and officer lists.  It is composed solely of paper documents and bound ledgers. Typed and handwritten minutes were kept by the secretary. The early minute books often resemble scrapbooks; complete with inserted pages of memorabilia, poems, letters, newspaper clippings, and member obituaries. The books contain other hidden treasures such as hand-drawn maps to member’s homes, luncheon programs, and photographs. Most notably, there is a map of the militia post at the Blue Hills in 1776, which documents the town’s lay-out, as well as a room-by-room list of Washington’s Headquarters (in Morristown) – both items associated with that year’s topic, “Where Go The Roads,” as demonstrated by a member walk along the historical Road to Liberty.

Arrangement
Series 2 is arranged chronologically by subject, and fills two boxes.

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Series 3: Photographs and other [1865, 1899, 1919, 1932--1940, 1974-1975, undated]

book cover

Series Description
Series 3 contains a series of photographs dating from 1919 to 1974. They include a 1919 portrait (see top of page) of the Club's members standing on the porch steps of the home of Mrs. Besler, the wife of Central Rail Road of New Jersey’s Mr. William Besler. There are three scrapbook pages with photographs documenting the 1935 skit for the program, “Where the rivers flow;" some group shots from the Lavallette, NJ cottage get-together in 1940, and 2 images from the 1932 Scandinavian Exhibit - as displayed in the Art Gallery of the old Job-Male library building.  Also included in the series are one folder of photocopied newspaper clippings that document several of the Clubs anniversaries and run from 1929 to 1975, with gaps; a folder of memorabilia, two copies of the book “Sesame & Lilies,” and a letter and clipping from the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library.

Arrangement
Series 3 is arranged chronologically by subject, with photographs at the end.

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Contents Listing

Box Folder Title Dates

1

1

Programs

1908-1919

 

2

Programs

1920-1929

 

3

Programs

1930-1939

 

4

Programs

1940-1949

 

5

Programs

1950-1959

 

6

Programs

1960-1969

 

7

Programs

1970-1979

 

*

See Box 4 with additional programs

1906-1911, 1915-1917

 

 

 

 

2

1

Constitution and By-laws

1931

 

2

Constitution and By-laws

1934

 

3

Constitution and By-laws

1943

 

4

Constitution and By-laws

1956

 

5

Constitution and By-laws

1957

 

6

Constitution and By-laws

1965

 

7

Constitution and By-laws

1978

 

8

Secretary’s and Treasurer’s Book

1904-1912

 

10

Roll and Minutes Book (combined)

1913-1920

 

11

Roll Book

1920-1933

 

12

Roll Book

1933-1945

 

13

Roll Book

1945-1960

 

14

Membership Lists

1959-1979 with gaps

 

15

Officers List

1904-1973

 

 

 

 

3

1

Minutes

1939-1947

 

2

Minutes

1947-1955

 

3

Minutes

1955-1964

 

4

Minutes

1964-1972

 

5

Minutes

1972-1978

 

 

See Box 2 with additional minutes

1913-1933

 

 

 

 

4

1

Anniversary Materials: 1925, 1930, 1935, 1950, 1975, 1980

1925--1980

 

2

Constitution and By-laws

1905

 

3

Friends of the Plainfield Public Library: letter and newspaper clipping

1927 and 1960

 

4

Programs

1906-1911, 1915-1917

 

5

Luncheon Program

1939

 

6

Newspaper clippings (photocopied)

1911--1979

 

7

Miscellaneous Items: 1 heart-shaped Valentine card and 1 event document “Soliloquy.”

Undated

 

8

“Sesame & Lilies” by John Ruskin, 2 editions

1869 and 1865

 

9

Photographs

1919, 1932, 1935, 1940, 1974

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