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Poland Philopedian Debating Society Records

 Collection
Identifier: XUA-106

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of the records of the Poland Philopedian Debating Society, a student organization at Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio). Records contain constitutions, by-laws, membership lists, minutes, treasurer's accounts, speeches, invitations, programs and photographs from 1841-1864. Minutes record the proceedings and decisions of the society, along with the names of debate participants. The records include invitations and programs to events sponsored or participated in by the society including the Verkamp Debate, the University commencement, and the annual oratorical and elocution contests. Members of the society engaged in debates and wrote essays on historical and contemporary topics such as immigration, voting rights, justification of war, religion, economics, and the value of liberal arts. Students argued pros and cons of questions such as "Which is more stimulating for the mind, painting or music?", "Is the present system of free schools beneficial to the country?", "Was the Indian Policy of the government wise, just, and beneficial," and "Should the government include an income tax in its system of taxation?".

Dates

  • 1841-1965

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use. Materials must be viewed by appointment in the Archives Research Room.

Conditions Governing Use

A portion of these records are in the public domain. Copyright law of the United States governs the reproduction of copyrighted material. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

History of the Poland Philopedian Debating Society

The Poland Philopedian Debating Society (occasionally spelled as Philopedean or Philopaedian) began as the Philopedian Society on January 19, 1841, making it one of Xavier University's oldest student organizations. It was renamed the Poland Philopedian Society in the twentieth century after Xavier alumnus and supporter William F. Poland, SJ, who established an endowment to financially support members of the society. According to the 1843 course catalog, the society was chiefly composed of students belonging to the "senior classes" and "its principal object is to improve the members in public speaking." A faculty member supervised the society with student officers leading it. Those officers were elected at the last official meeting of the academic year. Their motto was "Linguis Animisque Favet (be favorable in both word and thought)." Around 1977, the Poland Philopedian Debating Society ceased operating.

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Xavier's campus was located downtown, the society had a library and a debating room where they met weekly for discussion and debates. According to the 1931 student yearbook, "At each debate, one man is chosen by the Chairman to act as critic judge, who criticizes the participants, awards the decision and names the best speaker of the day. After each debate, the subject is open to the house for discussion." Members sponsored theatrical performances, and participated in an annual public debates and contests like the Washington Oratorical Contest and the Alumni Oratorical Contest. They also performed music and gave speeches during the annual commencement exercises. As the society evolved, it accepted members from other classes and shifted its goal to fostering "a taste for eloquence, history and general literature" with members assembling for debates or "for the discussion of carefully prepared essays on disputed points of history" (Course Catalog, 1911). Membership in the society was a prerequisite to being in the honorary fraternity Pi Alpha Mu. In 1902 Joseph B. Verkamp (class of 1877) established a gold medal prize as an "award to the member of the Poland Philopedian Society who has delivered the best speech in the annual public debate of the society" (Course Catalog, 1958). From 1956-1964 and again from 1975-1982, the society and Xavier University sponsored the annual Robert A. Marx Debate Tournament, which brought teams from twenty-three colleges and universities to a competition at Xavier (Course Catalog, 1958 and XUA-50 President's Office Records). Throughout the course of its history, society members engaged in debate on contemporary and historical issues. Topics included the influence of literature, values and mores, immigration, war, slavery, the benefits of various political systems, education, and much more. For example, the 1913 Verkamp debate topic was "that, unless they have fled to this country for conscience' sake, the United States should refuse to admit to permanent residence all aliens over sixteen years of age whom cannot read and write.

Extent

5 Cubic Feet (6 boxes containing 18 bound volumes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Collection consists of the records of the Poland Philopedian Debating Society, a student organization at Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio). Records contain constitutions, by-laws, membership lists, minutes, treasurer's accounts, speeches, invitations, programs and photographs. Members of the society engaged in debates and wrote essays on historical and contemporary topics such as the justification of war, immigration, slavery, voting rights, the value of liberal arts, capital punishment, and economic systems.

Arrangement

Records are arranged into four series: Series 1: Administrative records, Series 2: Minutes, Series 3: Speeches, and Series 4: Ephemera and Photographs

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Found in University Archives holdings. No acquisition information exists. Materials likely acquired by Xavier University Library from the society in the mid 20th century.

Related Materials

Announcements and articles about the Poland Philopedian Debating Society appear in the student newspaper, the yearbook, and the university catalog.

Processing Information

Materials originally housed and organized in University Archives under the label "oversized acquisitions." Each ledger was assigned an individual identifier (A-1, A-2 etc) and listed in an internal inventory. Some ephemera and photographs were found by UASC staff in an assembled collection called "Student Clubs" in 2019. The assembled collection had been created in 2013 by UASC staff during a reprocessing project that dissolved records groups and reorganized content by subject. Since 2017, this practice of arrangement has ceased. During 2020 processing, UASC staff reunited the ledgers and the ephemera and moved them from the format-based collection "oversized acquisitions" to their own collection. At this time, the ledgers were housed in archival boxes.
Title
Guide to the Poland Philopedian Debating Society Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by UASC Staff
Date
2020-03
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Special Collections, Xavier University Library Repository

Contact:
3800 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati Ohio 45207 US
513-745-4821