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Guide to the Records of WEDA (Wyckoff Economical Dining Association)
1871-1955 (Bulk 1886-1953)
  MS 683

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Maurita Baldock

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: WEDA (Wyckoff Economical Dining Association) Records
Dates: 1871-1955 (Bulk 1886-1953)
Abstract: The WEDA (Wyckoff Economical Dining Association) Records contain documentation of a New York City men's club that met for dinner once a month for 118 years. The bulk of the material is scrapbooks which include menus and lists of members in attendance. Other materials include photographs, correspondence, and reports of the secretary.
Quantity: 2.0 Linear feet (3 boxes and 3 volumes)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Call Phrase: MS 683

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Historical Note

1838 After a complaint about the high price of dinners at the Union Club, a recently founded New York City men's social club, Alexander R. Wyckoff states that he could cater a dinner that was filling, yet inexpensive. Seventeen other Union Club members attend his dinner. The same group decides to throw a similar dinner catered by a different member. The men begin to meet on a regular basis and take the name "the Benedictines." The name is soon changed to "WEDA" to represent the "Wyckoff Economical Dining Association."
May 1871 WEDA Secretary William D. Robinson writes a report that includes a history of the club. He states that the members of WEDA have continually met once a month from October through May for 33 years at various clubhouses for dinner. Men who attend the dinners pay a fee for the meal, and men who cannot attend the dinners are charged a small fine. It is unclear if the men in WEDA must also be Union Club members.
April 1886 Vacancies in membership are solved by nomination and election. The club also creates a new category of Honorary Membership- a membership for a member above the age of 70 years who has the same rights as others, but does not have to pay a fine if absent from a dinner.
May 1955 Unclear if association continued after this time.

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Scope and Content Note

The WEDA (Wyckoff Economical Dining Association) Collection contains documentation of a New York City men's club whose purpose was to meet for dinner once a month. It is arranged according to type of material and includes menus, photographs, correspondence, reports of the secretary, bills, and receipts.

The bulk of the material is scrapbooks that contain menus for each dinner meeting documented and lists of members in attendance. Although the organization was formed in 1838, the scrapbooks and minutes of the meetings do not begin until 1886. It is unclear how often the club met between 1838-1886. But, the scrapbooks contain a comprehensive collection of menus for almost every WEDA meeting from 1886-1955 and provide a look into food consumed by upper class men during that time. For example, the menus from the nineteenth century report a large amount of seafood for dinner including green turtle soup and a wide variety of oysters. The menus in the twentieth century have other dishes, such as caviar, and dinners that include more meat and less seafood. The menus also list other items named after the club such as "Weda Club Chowder" and "Weda Punch." A 1901 Report of the Secretary also includes a complete listing of minutes and menus from April 1886 until May 1901.

The material supports research on the history of men's clubs. Prominent New York men were members, and they met at existing clubs such as the Knickerbocker Club, the Union League Club, and the Metropolitan Club. The records list members' names and does not include much personal information about them. There are also few indications of current events or any political or economic discussions that might have taken place at the meetings. Events such as the Great Depression and the First and Second World Wars are almost completely absent from reports of the meetings. The only reflection of current affairs in the scrapbooks is a mention that the 1943 April meeting was the first one to be held with war rationing.

Arrangement

The records are arranged by type of material. The material is then arranged chronologically or alphabetically.

The WEDA Records have been organized into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Administrative Material, 1871-1953
  2. Series 2: Dinner Scrapbooks, 1886-1955
  3. Series 3: Photographs, [ca. 1900-1940]

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Hoyt, Henry S. (Henry Sheaff), 1852-1900
  • Robinson, William D.,1811-1876
  • Wyckoff, Alexander R.

Document Type

  • Correspondence
  • Membership lists
  • Menus
  • Photographs
  • Portraits
  • Scrapbooks

Subject Organizations

  • Knickerbocker Club
  • Metropolitan Club (New York, N.Y.)
  • New York Yacht Club
  • Union Club (New York, N.Y.)
  • Union League Club (New York, N.Y.)
  • Weda Club (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Clubs--New York (State)--New York
  • Dinners and dining--New York (State)--New York

Subject Places

  • New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Donation, 2000.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading Room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as WEDA Records, MS 683, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Series 1: Administrative Material (1871-1953)

Scope and Contents note

This series contains material relating to membership, expenses, and the general running of the club. The three scrapbooks in this series consist of correspondence, bills, and a few notes discussing protocol of dinners. The one folder of administrative material consists of lists of members, a 1871 Report of the Secretary (which recounts the story of the club's formation), and the preparations for the 1902 Report of the Secretary. The series also contains a published volume of the 1902 Report of the Secretary that includes minutes and menus from dinners from April 1886 until May 1901, lists of names and portraits of members, and a copy of the 1871 Report of the Secretary.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Volume: 1 Administrative Scrapbook
1877-1926
Volume: 2 Administrative Scrapbook
1917-1953
Volume: 3 Report of the Secretary
1902
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Administrative Material
1871-1907

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Series 2: Dinner Scrapbooks (1886-1955)

Scope and Contents note

The scrapbooks in this series describe the monthly dinners held by the WEDA club including the date, menu for the meeting, the members in attendance, the members catering, the location, and the cost of each dinner. The scrapbooks also contain minutes discussing new resolutions or the death of a member.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 1 WEDA Club Scrapbook
1886 Apr.-1892 Nov.
Box: 1 WEDA Club Scrapbook
1892 Dec.-1908 Dec.
Box: 2 WEDA Club Scrapbook
1909 Jan.-1928 Mar.
Box: 2 WEDA Club Scrapbook
1928 Apr.-1946 Dec.
Box: 2 WEDA Club Scrapbook
1947 Jan.-1955 May

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Series 3: Photographs [ca. 1900-1940]

Scope and Contents note

The photographs in this collection are all formal individual portraits of WEDA members; none of the photographs depict WEDA dinners. Most of the subjects are identified and some include indications that they were to be used for a 1929 members book. All of the depictions in this series are black and white photographs except for a photographic image of Frank Gray Griswold that was produced on a half tone printing block.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Photographs, Members A-G
1917, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Photographs, Members H-R
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Photographs, Members S-Z
undated
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Photographs, Members Unidentified
undated

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