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Mercer Literary Society records

Abstract

Title:
Mercer Literary Society records
Author/Creator:
Mercer Literary Society
Collection number:
94-91
Size:
1.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
1864-1900
Inclusive dates:
1864-1900
Collection Area:
University of Maryland
Repository:
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email: askhornbake@umd.edu
Abstract:

The Mercer Literary Society, one of the Maryland Agricultural College's earliest student organizations, was founded in 1861 by Dr. William N. Mercer of Louisiana. Open to any individual in good standing with the college, students joined the society to pursue intellectual pursuits that were not addressed in the rigid course work of the nineteenth century. At the Mercer Literary Society meetings, members developed oratory skills and listed to speakers debate the major issues of the day. The society also maintained a library known to be superior to that of the Maryland Agricultural College itself. The original society was reconfigured several times during its existence, ultimately becoming the New Mercer Literary Society in 1896. The records of the Mercer Literary Society consist of minutes, membership lists, and a constitution for the New Mercer Literary Society. The bound volumes also include copies of the Journal of the New Mercer Literary Society.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Mercer Literary Society records, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1658
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Status:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

The Mercer Literary Society, one of the Maryland Agricultural College's (MAC) earliest student organizations, was founded in 1861 by Dr. William N. Mercer of Louisiana; Mercer, an honorary member of the Board of Trustees, donated valuable books and financial resources to the society. Open to any individual in good standing with the college, students joined the society to pursue intellectual pursuits that were not addressed in the rigid course work of the nineteenth century. At the Mercer Literary Society meetings, members developed oratory skills and listened to speakers debate the major issues of the day. The library of the Mercer Society was well known and actually outnumbered in volume that of the college. The society took part in lively annual debates with the Calvert Fraternity, another early student group, and, subsequently, the Morrill Literary Society and the Poe Literary Society.

After initially enjoying a membership of nearly two-thirds of the student body, enrollment fell so low that, in 1888, the society disbanded. After a four-year hiatus, the society reorganized as the New Mercer Literary Society. In the same year, the group began publication of the Journal of the New Mercer Literary Society, to provide entertainment and intellectual stimulation. The society was reconfigured again between 1894 and 1896, first into the House of Commons, modeled after the British House of Commons, and then into the MAC Congress. In 1896, the society once again named itself the New Mercer Literary Society and resumed regular meetings. Members of the society often won an annual debate sponsored by the Alumni Association. The New Mercer Literary Society remained active into the 1930s.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records of the Mercer Literary Society span the period 1864 to 1900 and document the activities and intellectual pursuits of one of the Maryland Agricultural College's earliest student organizations. The collection contains the minutes of the society, which chronicle the topics of debates, as well as the society's administrative business. The minutes also include membership listings and a copy of the New Mercer Literary Society constitution. Also included in the records are the copies of the Journal of the New Mercer Literary Society.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The records of the Mercer Literary Society were transferred to the University of Maryland Libraries from the Office of the Chancellor, University of Maryland System, in March 1994.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by James Fort, April 1998. Guide revised by Elizabeth A. McAllister, April 2006.

Processing note:

The records of the Mercer Literary Society were placed in acid-free folders and boxes.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Elizabeth A. McAllister, April 2006.

Arrangement of Collection

The records of the Mercer Literary Society have been divided into two series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Minutes, 1864-1900 (2 volumes)

This series contains the minutes of the Mercer and New Mercer Literary Societies, which include membership listings as well as documentation of each society meeting. The minutes identify the lecturer at each meeting, as well as the topics, such as philosophy, human nature, and ethics, that were addressed. These volumes also chronicle the administration of the society, including election results, committee reports, and other society business. In addition, this series contains the constitution of the New Mercer Literary Society. This series is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Minutes of the New Mercer Literary Society, 1892-1900 series 1box 1folder 1
Minutes of the Mercer Literary Society, 1864-1888 series 1box 1folder 1

Series 2: Publications, 1892-1897 (1 volume)

This series includes the Journal of the New Mercer Literary Society. The publication contains poems, humor, and sports reviews, as well as editorials on the administrative policies of the Maryland Agricultural College. This series is arranged chronologically.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Journal of the New Mercer Literary Society, 1892-1897 series 2box 1folder 1

Related Material

Additional information related to the New Mercer Literary society can be found in student yearbooks. The Records of the Calvert Fraternity, a related student organization, are located within the Papers of William B. Sands.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.

Subjects

Names (Added Entries)