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Encyclopedia > Porcellian Club
A menu from a dinner at the Porcellian Club 1884 (original in the Buttolph collection of menus, NYPL.)
A menu from a dinner at the Porcellian Club 1884 (original in the Buttolph collection of menus, NYPL.)

The Porcellian Club is a male-only final club at Harvard University, sometimes called the Porc or the P.C. The year of founding is usually given as 1791, when a group began meeting under the name "the Argonauts,"[1] or as 1794, the year of the roast pig dinner at which the club, known first as "the Pig Club"[2] was formally founded. The club's motto, Dum vivimus vivamus (while we live, let's live) is literally Epicurean. The club emblem is the pig, and some members sport golden pigs on watch-chains or neckties bearing pig's-head emblems.[3][4] Image File history File links Size of this preview: 658 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (760 × 692 pixel, file size: 112 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Porcellian Club ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 658 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (760 × 692 pixel, file size: 112 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Porcellian Club ... New York Public Library, central block, built 1897–1911, Carrère and Hastings, architects (June 2003) The New York Public Library (NYPL), one of three public library systems serving New York City, is one of the leading libraries in the United States. ... A final club or finals club is an all-male undergraduate social club at Harvard College. ... Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Founded in 1636,[2] Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning still operating in the United States. ... Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c340-c270 BC), founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. ...

The Porcellian is the iconic "hotsy-totsy final club,"[5] often bracketed with Yale's Skull and Bones. E. Digby Baltzell ranks the social ladder of the final clubs at Harvard as "Porcellian and A. D., the most exclusive,... followed by Fly, Spee, Delphic, and Owl."[6] A history of Harvard calls the Porcellian "the most final of them all,"[7]. Also, an urban legends website mentions a belief that "if members of the Porcellian do not earn their first million before they turn 40, the club will give it to them."[8] Emblem of the Skull and Bones society The Order of Skull and Bones, once known as The Brotherhood of Death[1], is a secret society based at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, and one of the earliest-established of student secret societies that rival Phi Beta Kappa, also originally... E. Digby Baltzell E. Digby Baltzell (Edward Digby Baltzell) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1915 to a wealthy, Episcopalian family. ...



Known to members as the "Old Barn",[9] the Porcellian clubhouse is located at 1324 Massachusetts Avenue above the store of clothier J. August. Its entrance faces the Harvard freshman dormitories and the entrance to Harvard Yard called the Porcellian, or McKean, Gate. The gate was donated by the club in 1901 and features a limestone carving of a boar's head.[10] Access to the clubhouse is strictly limited to members, but non-member males and females are allowed in the first floor room known as the Bicycle Room. Massachusetts Avenue is the name shared by several prominent streets in the United States. ... Harvard Yard in 1905. ...

Despite the exclusivity and mystique, some, like National Review columnist and editor, Reagan speechwriter, and Dartmouth emeritus professor of English Jeffery Hart, have noted the club's modest physical and metaphorical character. Hart wrote:

...To illustrate, may I invoke Harvard's famous Porcellian, an undergraduate club of extraordinary exclusiveness? ... [I]t is devilishly hard to join. But there is nothing there, hardly a club at all. The quarters consist entirely of a large room over a row of stores in Harvard Square. There is a bar, a billiards table, and a mirror arranged so that members can sit and view Massachusetts Avenue outside without themselves being seen. And that's it. Virtually the sole activity of Porcellian is screening applicants. Porcellian is the pinnacle of the Boston idea. Less is more. Zero is a triumph. [11]

Much of the secrecy surrounding the exclusive Porcellian clubhouse evaporated when the Harvard Crimson, the university newspaper, published pictures of the interior.[12]

Historical Significance

Theodore Roosevelt and other members of the Roosevelt family belonged to the club, but Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was managing editor of the Harvard Crimson, never managed to be elected a member. He later told a friend that this had been "the greatest disappointment in his life".[13] FDR redirects here. ... The Harvard Crimson, of Harvard University, is the United States oldest continuously published daily college newspaper. ...

An 1870 travel book said

A notice of Harvard would be as incomplete without a reference to the Porcellian Club as a notice of Oxford or Cambridge would be in which the [Oxford] Union Debating Society held no place. This and the Hasty Pudding Club, an organization for performing amateur theatricals, are the two lions of Harvard. The Porcellian Club is hardly a place of resort for those who cultivate the intellect at the expense of the body. The list of active members is small, owing in part to the largeness of the annual subscription. The great desire of every student is to become a member of it... the doings of the club are shrouded in secrecy... All that can be said by a stranger who has been privileged to step behind the scenes is that the mysteries are rites which can be practised without much labour, and yield a pleasure which is fraught with no unpleasant consequences.[14]

A telling indication of the position of the Porcellian in the Boston WASP establishment is given by an historian of Boston's Trinity Church, H. H. Richardson's architectural masterpiece. In speculating as to why Richardson was chosen, he writes: The Oxford Union Society, commonly referred to simply as the Oxford Union, is a private debating society in the city of Oxford, whose membership is drawn primarily but not exclusively from the University of Oxford. ... The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, known informally simply as The Pudding, is a theatrical student society at Harvard University, known for its burlesque musicals. ... Suborder Apocrita See text for explanation. ... Trinity Church in Boston. ... Library, North Easton, MA Henry Hobson Richardson (1838 - 1886) was the outstanding American architect of his day, one of a half-dozen most influential American architects. ...

the thirty-four-year-old possessed one great advantage over the other candidates: as a popular Harvard undergraduate he had been a member of several clubs, including the prestigious Porcellian; thus he needed no introduction to the rector, Phillips Brooks, or five of the eleven-man building committee—they were all fellow Porcellian members."[15]

Phillips Brooks (December 13, 1835 - January 23, 1893), was a noted United States clergyman and author, who briefly served as Bishop of Massachusetts in the Episcopal Church during the early 1890s. ...

Membership Criteria

A biography of Norman Mailer says that when he was at Harvard "it would have been unthinkable... for a Jew to be invited to join one of the so-called final clubs like Porcellian, A. D., Fly, or Spee."[16] A history of Harvard notes the decline in Boston Brahmin influence at Harvard during the last quarter of the 1900s, and says "a third of [the presidents of the Final Clubs] were Jewish by 1986 and one was black. The Porcellian... took an occasional Jew, and in 1983 (to the horror of some elders) admitted a black—who had gone to St. Paul's."[7] Norman Mailer, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1948 Norman Kingsley Mailer (born January 31, 1923) is an American novelist, journalist, playwright, screenwriter and film director. ... St. ...

More recent information on the membership of the Porcellian Club may be found in a 1994 Harvard Crimson article by Joseph Mathews. He writes, "Prep school background, region and legacy status do not appear to be the sole determinants of membership they may once have been, but ... they remain factors."[17]


Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, Jr. ... Paul Nitze Paul Henry Nitze (January 16, 1907 – October 19, 2004) was a high-ranking United States government official who helped shape Cold War defense policy over the course of numerous presidential administrations. ... Edward Everett (April 11, 1794 – January 15, 1865) was a Whig Party politician from Massachusetts. ... Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. ... Wendell Phillips Wendell Phillips (29 November 1811 – 2 February 1884) was an American abolitionist, advocate for Native Americans, and orator. ... Library, North Easton, MA Henry Hobson Richardson (1838 - 1886) was the outstanding American architect of his day, one of a half-dozen most influential American architects. ... Robert Gould Shaw Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was the white colonel in command of the all-black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which entered the American Civil War in 1863. ... American jurist Joseph Story Joseph Story (September 18, 1779 - September 10, 1845), American jurist, was born at Marblehead, Massachusetts. ... Richard Whitney (August 1, 1888 - December 5, 1974), was an American financier, president of the New York Stock Exchange 1930-1935, and a convicted embezzler. ... The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), nicknamed the Big Board, is a New York City-based stock exchange publicly held and listed under the symbol NYX on its own exchange. ... Robert Lowell (March 1, 1917–September 12, 1977), born Robert Traill Spence Lowell, IV, was a highly regarded mid-twentieth-century American poet. ... McLean Hospital (pronounced Mc-Lane) is a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, USA. It is noted for its clinical staff expertise and ground-breaking neuroscience research. ...


  1. ^ a b c d e Sheldon, Henry Davidson (1901). Student Life and Customs. D. Appleton. , p. 171: source for 1791 origins as the "Argonauts;" later named "The Pig Club," "The Gentlemen's Club," finally "The Porcellian." "Small as the membership has been, the roll of graduates shows many of the most famous of the Sons of Harvard, including Wendell Phillips, Channing, [Joseph] Story, [Edward] Everett, Prescott, Adams, Palfrey, Charles Sumner, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and John Lothrop Motley." Online at Google Books
  2. ^ Shand-Tucci, Douglas (2001). Harvard University. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1-56898-280-1.  p. 89: "...Harvard's still-extant Porcellian Club, which arose out of a legendary dinner of roast pig (hence the club's name) in 1794 at Moore's Tavern. Unlike [Phi Beta Kappa], the Porcellian's motto, Dum Vivimus Vivamus, indicates that they were not beguiled by concerns academical or even literary, but, rather by pure conviviality.
  3. ^ Sedgwick, John, "Brotherhood of the Pig," GQ: Gentlemen's Quarterly 58 (November 1988), p. 30, as quoted by Horwitz, Richard P. (1998). Hog Ties : Pigs, Manure, and Mortality in American Culture. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 0-312-21443-X.  pp. 27-28: ""My father was generally oblivious to the animal world, but he did have an unusual affection for pigs. Around our house... he had porcelain pigs, ceramic pigs, carved pigs, embroidered pigs, painted pigs.... They overran our living-room mantelpiece, swept over the tabletops, covered his bureau, popped up on his cuff links, watch chain and ties and even appeared on our drinking glasses and saltcellar.... Why all these pigs? Because my father was a Brother Porcellian... and the pig is the club's emblem."
  4. ^ a b Schlesinger, Arthur Meier [1958]. The Coming of the New Deal. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-34086-6.  p. 461. [NYSE president] Richard Whitney "had attended Groton and Harvard.... his clubs were the Links, the Turf, the Field, the Racquet, and the Knickerbocker; from his watch chain there dangled the gold pig of Harvard's Porcellian."
  5. ^ Myrer, Anton (2002). The Last Convertible. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-093405-0.  p. 130, "I ... pulled up in front of the Porcellian or Sphinx or Onyx or whichever hotsy-totsy final club it was"
  6. ^ Baltzell, E. Digby (1991). The Protestant Establishment Revisited. Transaction Publishers. 0887384196.  p. 23: "At Harvard, Porcellian and A. D., the most exclusive, are followed by Fly, Spee, Delphic, and Owl. The narrow top drawer at Yale includes Fence, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Zeta Psi, and St. Anthony, while at Princeton, the more socially circumspect clubs on Prospect Street include Ivy, Cap and Gown, and Colonial."
  7. ^ a b Keller, Morton; Phyllis Keller (2001). Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University. Oxford University Press U.S.. ISBN 0-19-514457-0.  p. 472
  8. ^ Mann, Elizabeth (1993), "The First Abridged Dictionary of Harvard Myths," The Harvard Independent December 9, 1993, pp.10-11 as quoted by the alt.folklore.urban website in Harvard Legends
  9. ^ Matthews, Joe (1994). The Harvard Crimson, March 5, 2004 [1]
  10. ^ a b c Gewertz, Ken (2005) "Enter to grow in wisdom: A tour of Harvard's gates". The Harvard Gazette (a publication of the Harvard News Office), December 15, 2005 [2]
  11. ^ Hart, Jeffrey (1996) "What is American?". National Review, 48, (April 22, 1996); Online at [3], p4
  12. ^ "In Da Club". The Harvard Crimson: FM Magazine, (February 6, 2003). Archived online October 26, 2004 at [4]
  13. ^ Frances Richardson Keller, Fictions of U. S. History : A Theory & Four Illustrations, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002, p. 116.
  14. ^ Rae, W. Fraser (1870). Westward by Rail: The New Route to the East. Longmans, Green, And Co..  p. 354-5. Google Books text
  15. ^ a b O'Gorman, James F. (2004). The Makers of Trinity Church in the City of Boston. University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 1-55849-436-7.  p. 14
  16. ^ Dearborn, Mary (2001). Mailer: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-15460-4.  p. 23
  17. ^ op cit.
  18. ^ Frances Richardson Keller, Fictions of U. S. History : A Theory & Four Illustrations, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002, p. 116.
  19. ^ Beam, Alex (2002). Gracefully Insane: The Rise and Fall of America's Premier Mental Hospital. Public Affairs. ISBN 1-891620-75-4.  p. 174: "After a stint on Bowditch Hall, where Robert Lowell immortalized [Louis Agassiz Shaw II] as 'Bobbie...'" Beam quotes two pages of "Walking in the Blue," apparently as an introduction to the book, just before Chapter I.
  20. ^ "How the mentally ill have been treated — and mistreated — in America", Chicago Tribune, May 15, 2002.
  21. ^ LaFerla, Ruth (2002), "Where the Upper Crust Crumbled Politely"; The New York Times, (Review of Alex Beam's book, Gracefully Insane). July 28, 2002[5]



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