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Detroit Club collection

Identifier: 018.DC

Scope and Contents

The collection of the Detroit Club documents the activities of the social club from its inception in 1882, until its disbandment in 1996. After the club disbanded, members continued to meet through 2001 and the records reflect these continued meetings. This collection is a comprehensive documentation of the club’s activities. The collection is arranged into three main record groups: Administrative records, Financial records, and Membership records. Each record group documents the activities of the organization and have been further arranged into series and sub-series. Files within each record group and series have been arranged alphabetically; with the exception of oversized materials and digitized materials.

The ADMINISTRATIVE record group documents the activities of the organization and has been arranged into eight series: Building; By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation; Correspondence; Meeting Minutes; Publications; Reciprocating Clubs; and Visual Materials. Building records document the physical construction of the club’s building at 712 Cass Avenue, Detroit. Records include architectural drawings, contract agreements, proposals, floor plans, and renovations which have occurred on the property. The By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation series documents the club’s articles of incorporation and by-laws as well as any amendments made over time. Correspondence series documents communication to and from club administrators to members as well as promote club activities through promotional flyers. Meeting Minutes series is further arranged into four subseries which pertain to Annual Meetings; Board of Directors; Combined House Committee and Board of Directors; and House Committee. Minutes comprehensively record the activities at each individual meeting and are further sub-divided by years of occurrence. Meeting minute documentation occurs from 1883 through 1996, with a subsequent gap from 1910 through 1920. The Publications series includes those produced by the Detroit Club, and articles written about the club by local resources including the Detroit News and Free Press. Reciprocating Clubs series includes agreements, listings of, correspondence, privileges, and relations between the Detroit Club, and other social clubs throughout the city of Detroit, state of Michigan, and the continental United States. Lastly, the Visual Materials series documents club activities through photographs, posters, and scrapbooks. The series is further arranged into two sub-series, Photographs and Scrapbooks. The photographs document the people and interior club structure. There are 19 scrapbooks which comprehensively document club activities from 1951 through 1985.

The FINANCIAL record group documents the monetary transactions and fiscal responsibilities of the club, and have been further arranged into six series: Annual Reports; Appraisal Reports; Artwork; Audited Financial Statements; Stock Certificates, and Stock Certificates Returned. Annual Reports document the club’s fiscal activities throughout the preceding years, from 1906-2002, with subsequent gaps from 1910-1913, and from 1924-1959. TheAppraisal Reports series documents the club’s artwork collection, and includes documentation regarding purchased and donated works, as well as includes artist name, title, dimensions, and monetary appraisal from 1940-1998. Furnishings and property appraisals are also reported. Artwork series documents the art collection as well as loans, and sale of works. Records were created for insurance appraisals. Audited Financial Statements include a complete run of statements from 1973 through 1989, and record the club’s financial activities. Lastly, the series of Stock Certificatesand Stock Certificates Returned, documents the legal member ownership of the club from 1883 through 1999.

The MEMEBERSHIP record group expansively documents membership procedures from 1883 through 1996, and include applications for membership, member acceptance and resignations; membership proposals; inventory cards with name, occupation, date of birth and death; and membership committee meeting records from the mid-1980s and mid-1990s.


  • Creation: 1882 - 2001


Language of Materials

All records are in English unless otherwise noted.

Conditions Governing Access

Researchers are asked to request materials 24 hours prior to visiting the the University Archives.

Administrative history

The Detroit Club was formed in 1882, when, lawyer Samuel Douglas and banker/broker James T. Campbell decided to rent a small house in an adjacent Detroit neighborhood; hire a fine chef and run a club where like-minded peoples could meet to dine, exchange news, conduct business, and promote fellowship. Douglas and Campbell were able to convince 100 other associates of the idea and The Detroit Club was born.

Those who formed the club had a clubhouse in mind; however it would not be ostentatious, yet would have certain features including a small attached establishment for members to enjoy certain privileges, and include a Women’s Department. The original club was a little wooden house on Lafayette between Wayne and Cass. Early members included those of Detroit’s elite businesses, including Russell A. Alger, Hugh McMillan and James B. Book.

Within the first year, the club had outgrown its original clubhouse, and they moved into the home of one of the members at Wayne and Fort Streets. The club continued to flourish, and in 1892, a four-story Romanesque Revival style structure designed by Wilson Eyre Jr. of Philadelphia, was built at the corner of Fort and Cass.

A number of pivotal events occurred over the years, including the organizational meeting of the Automobile Club of Detroit in 1902; in 1922, Michigan Governor Alex Groesbeck held strategy sessions to decide whom to tap to fill the open Senate seat due to Truman Newberry’s resignation, ultimately choosing James Couzens. In 1930, Governor Fred Green met with Detroit bank presidents to work out details for closing the city’s banks, and during 1944 and 1945, Henry Ford II regained control of The Ford Motor Company from Harry Bennett. Later, Lee Iacocca used the club to launch his campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty and develop Ellis Island into a museum. Along with the significant events, many dignitaries visited the clubhouse including Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, and other influential people such as Prince William of Sweden, Empress Zita of Austria, the Duke of Windsor, Margaret Truman, Charles Lindbergh, Gene Tunney, Admiral Richard Byrd, John D. Rockefeller, and Edward G. Robinson.

Membership had reached its peak in the 1950s with over 1,000 members, however; membership began to transform when the first African American and Jewish men were admitted to the club in the late 1960s. By the early 1970s, membership had declined to approximately 800 members, and by the 1980s, and membership began to significantly wane. After years of a being a traditional men’s only club, the first woman walked through the front door in 1972, when Myra Wolfgang accepted an invitation for lunch. Membership for women began in 1976, when attorney Sharon Wood became the first female member.

Membership has significantly declined since the late 1990s, and the financially strapped club sold their Cass Avenue building to longtime member Nick Abraham and his life Lorna. The Abraham’s will maintain the structure and utilize it for private events.


47.4 Linear Feet (16 record center cartons, 28 archives boxes, 9 flat boxes, 1 oversize box and 19 oversize folders)


The Detroit Club collection contains the records of the Detroit Club (1882-1996), a social and dinner club for men founded in the city of Detroit in 1882, where members could meet to dine, exchange ideas, conduct business, and promote fellowship. This collection is a comprehensive documentation of the club’s activities, which include administrative, financial, and membership records. Records date past the life of the club; after the club disbanded, members continued to meet through 2001 and the records reflect these continued meetings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the Eastern Michigan University Archives in four different accessions, including materials from John Booth. The first two accessions were received by the University Archives in March of 2012, with the third in April of that same year. Items from the third accession were oversized materials, which included architectural drawings, and posters. The fourth accession, a lithograph print of the Detroit Club building was received on 2012 May 16, and indicated in the deed of gift, signed by John Booth, an additional print will be delivered to the Eastern Michigan University Archives at a later date.

Processing Information

Materials were intellectually arranged and housed by Leslie Van Veen, November 2012, graduate student at Wayne State University.

Detroit Club collection
Leslie Van Veen, Alexis Braun Marks, CA
2012 July 17
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository

Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197