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Portfolio Club Records

An inventory of its records at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: PRB
Date: April 1999

Organization History

The Portfolio Club is a women's organization that was founded in 1875 in Syracuse, New York.

" ... Women had little opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with other women except for an occasional tea, sewing group or church gathering.
"Responding to the plight of women in her day, Mary Dana Hicks, an art teacher in the Syracuse City Schools, attended a women's congress in 1875. Miss Hicks and her young art students were impressed by the speeches of such leading feminists as Mary Livermore, Mary Redfield Bagg, and Julia Ward Howe.
"Most impressive … was the appeal for women to organize into club groups and pursue whatever study or cause they considered important.
"Shortly after … a group of nine young high school girls met in October, 1875 … and formed a sketching club. The Portfolio Club, as it was called, was said to be one of the first women's clubs in Syracuse and one of the first in the nation. Although it was called the Portfolio Club because of the original study of art, it became more of a general interest club. Topics for study are assigned by the club president each year."
(Patricia Corbett, Syracuse Herald Journal, September 26, 1975)

Consisting of about 30 members, the club meets regularly from the first Monday in October to the second Monday in April. Each year new members are recommended and their admission to the club is voted upon by the current membership. Occasionally honorary members have also been selected. Club meetings are held at the homes of members or at local venues. A general topic, chosen by the President at the beginning of the program season, is broken down into a specific assignment for members to research and present on a designated date. Ranging over broad fields of interest, yearly topics have covered economics, religion, world culture, music, art, and science. Often characterized by inventive graphic design, which reflects the changing topics through decades of meeting seasons, programs document the club's officers and membership as well as the meeting schedules and their venues. The club is still active.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Portfolio Club Records comprises the historical files of the Syracuse, New York women's club. Beginning with the 1888-1889 program year, the meetings of the Portfolio Club have centered around an annual theme.

Arranged chronologically, the collection consists of the Club's incorporation papers, constitution and by-laws, clippings, correspondence, examination questions, memorial tributes, minutes, notes on lectures, annual programs, photographs, and some published material relating to the Club's history. Early minutes from the 1875 to 1884 are not among the Portfolio Club Records.

Memorabilia includes historical items and memorabilia related to the club but not part of the official records: photographs, clippings, material generated for an exhibit on the Portfolio Club in 2008, obituaries and memorial tributes, and so on.

Arrangement of the Collection

Material is arranged in chronological order, apart from the supplemental material which is arranged alphabetically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The 8mm film in Box 6 has been digitized.

See also the Ida H. Bond Papers. Ida Bond was a club member for many years in the early 1900s.

Subject Headings

Corporate Bodies

Portfolio Club (Syracuse, N.Y.) -- Archives.
Portfolio Club (Syracuse, N.Y.) -- Records and correspondence.


Women -- New York (State) -- Syracuse.
Women -- Non-formal education.
Women -- Recreation.
Women -- Societies and clubs.


Syracuse (N.Y.) -- History.
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Intellectual life.
Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs.

Genres and Forms

8mm (photographic film size)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Film reels.
Minutes (administrative records)
Programs (documents)
Sound recordings.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Portfolio Club Records,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Portfolio Club and various club members.

Table of Contents









Note on alternate formats:

The 8mm film in Box 6 has been digitized.