The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 18, 2013

Clinton book club celebrates 90 years


The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Twenty-five local women who share a common enjoyment of books and reading recently celebrated the start of their organization’s 90th year of continued existence.

On Sept. 25, 1924, Alpha Delphian Literary Society was organized in Clinton, one of more than 1,000 chapters established around the country at that time.

Charter members followed a prescribed course of study in a set of books sold them by a very persuasive saleswoman. Minutes of the first year refer to members’ “shaking knees and quavering voices,” due to being judged by a critic (appointed by the president) who would report mistakes in grammar and pronunciation at the following meeting. After a number of years, however, the critiques were dispensed with.

After six years, members decided the books and study programs cost more than they wanted to pay, but they kept the name Alpha Delphian and have continued ever since as a literary study group.

Minutes of the early 1940s indicate that most of the members were busily knitting and sewing for the Red Cross during meetings. Friendship Fund monies were used to help with war relief work, and members also baked cookies and collected reading materials for servicemen who were stationed in Clinton to patrol the bridges.

Some years the programs followed a common theme such as “Famous American Women” or “Outstanding Men and Women in the News Media.” Programs were also given by exchange students, school trios and theater groups, but in the early 1970s it was decided that all programs would be given by members.

For many years, Delphian has donated books to the Clinton Public Library annually as well as in memory of deceased members. In 1997 the Fulton and Camanche libraries were added to the schedule of year-end donations, on a rotating basis. Delphian also donates to a local charity every Christmas.

Currently the September meeting consists of mini-book reviews by all members on books read during the summer. There are two ‘group reads’ during the year, while members give book reviews at the other meetings. To commemorate the 90th year, members were asked to read a book published between 1924-1933. Successive decades will be similarly observed with reviews of books published during each time frame. The anniversary committee of Tammi Cassidy, Ida Lorenz, Cheryl McCulloh and Cyndi Winters is currently planning additional 90th year observances.