Debussy in the Dark

January 31, 2012

Campus Club evolves from tea and lace.
Social graces
Social graces: A Campus Club tea in 1966Duke University Archives

In 1914, Mary Reamey Thomas Few dreamed of an organization that would bring women together from across Trinity College. Few, wife of then-President William P. Few, decided to make her dream a reality, forming a club that gave women an opportunity to share their interests in art, music, poetry, and science, while also welcoming newcomers to the Trinity College community.

The result was Campus Club, a social club that organized social and cultural events for the wives of college faculty members. Although it has moved away from the formality of its beginnings, when women wore long dresses to luncheons at tables decorated with lace tablecloths, the Campus Club remains active today. Over the years, it has introduced events that showcased its members’ creativity and active pursuit of knowledge.

The club’s popular lecture series featured an impressive roster of Duke professors and visiting scholars. Annual fashion and craft shows put the creations of club members on display. Club committees focused on special interests including cooking, crafts, cultural heritage, music appreciation, and personal computing. Field trips took members to see performances such as Verdi’s opera Rigoletto and to visit historic landmarks.

Time also has made the club more inclusive. Today it welcomes women from all facets of the Duke community, including faculty and staff members, administrators, and alumnae. As the centennial anniversary of the club approaches, its history remains richly representative of the strength, creativity, and kindness of generations of women at Duke.