Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

MS 358
The Serendipity Club
Records, 1936-1994, undated

Descriptive summary

creator: The Serendipity Club
title: Records
dates: 1936-1994, undated
extent: 0.42 linear feet
collection number:

MS 358

repository: Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information

access: Open for research
publication rights: Consult Head, Special Collections Department
preferred citation: The Serendipity Club Records, MS 358, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.


Historical note

The Serendipity Club was organized on March 31, 1936, when Mrs. W. H. Stevenson, Mrs. C. H. Brown, Mrs. B. W. Hammer, and Mrs. J. A. Wilkinson invited a group of women to meet at the Wilkinson home in Ames, Iowa, to form a new club. The purpose of the club is to promote friendship and reading among its members. At the first meeting it was agreed that each member would purchase a book, through a committee of the club, and the book would be passed by rotation to all members. Each member would choose her own book, thereby making the reading more varied. The club meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 2:30 p.m. at members’ homes. The meetings begin in September and continue through the fourth Wednesday in May each year. Membership is limited to 16 people. Prospective members are voted on by written ballot. A unanimous ballot is necessary for election to membership. Mrs. Godfrey, chair of the committee to find a suitable name for the club, proposed it be named the Serendipity Club at the second meeting on April 30, 1936. The word, serendipity was coined by Horace Walpole, English wit and man of letters (1717-1797) in allusion to a tale, "The Three Princes of Serendip". These princes in their wanderings were always discovering, either by chance or sagacity, desirable things which they did not seek. Hence the word has come to mean -- the art of acquiring something that is both pleasurable and profitable without any seeming conscious effort. The proposal pleased the membership and the name was adopted by unanimous vote.

The charter members of the Serendipity Club are Mrs. A. L. Bakke, Mrs. R. E. Buchanan, Mrs. M. S. Coover, Mrs. A. T. Erwin, Mrs. C. E. Friley, Mrs. H. J. Gilkey, Mrs. George Godfrey, Mrs. B. W. Hammer, Mrs. J. T. Lonsdale, Mrs. W. H. Stevenson, Mrs. O. R. Sweeney, Mrs. J. A. Wilkinson, Mrs. C. H. Brown, Mrs. Guy S. Greene, and Mrs. Ralph Dunbar.


Collection description

This collection contains the journals of activities of the club {which contains the minutes (1936-94) of each club meeting), correspondence (1974-82), financial records (1968-94), a scrapbook of clippings (1963-80), and a bound volume of the book, Serendipity and the Three Princes (1965).


Container list







Journal of Activities (Minutes)




Journal of Activities (Minutes)





1974-1982, undated



Financial Records




Book: "Serendipity and the Three Princes"




Scrapbook of Clippings

1963-1980, undated