The Mary Arden Club was founded in the fall of 1902 on the campus of North Texas State (now the University of North Texas) by a professor of English, Miss Edith Lanier Clark. Miss Clark decided, along with Miss Annie Webb Blanton, her colleague in the English department, that the girls enrolled at the Teacher's college needed a literary club to enrich their time at school.
Originally founded as a literary club for girls and devoted to the works of Shakespeare, the club also provided training to its members in club work and social activities. The name of the club was chosen in 1902 by members to honor Mary Arden, the mother of Shakespeare. The club flower, a white rose, and the club colors, orange and white, were also chosen at this time. In 1922, a lot on Avenue A was bought, primarily from funds collected from five dollar pledges made by members, and the Mary Arden Lodge was built to provide a space for club meetings and activities. The club was an outlet for social activities and camaraderie, but it also taught its members the benefits of club work - serving on committees, creating event programs, planning teas and other formal events, and holding officer elections.
Membership soon swelled so that Junior and Senior Mary Arden Clubs were established in 1935. Both sections of the Mary Arden membership totaled to thirty, with the seniors comprised of twenty members. The remaining ten membership spots were open for juniors who would make up the backbone of the Senior Marys’ the following year.
The first meeting held in October 11, 1902 of this club was productive as officers were elected and a membership roster was recorded. Subsequent meetings determined the name of the club - Mary Arden - which was named in honor of Shakespeare's mother. The club's flower, the white rose and the club's colors, orange and white were also decided upon during this meeting.
The club met with success as it members were enthusiastic to participate in social activities and meetings held every other week during the semester. Before the onset of WWI, the Mary Arden Club set forth to solidify their presence on campus by purchasing and planning for their own lodge located on Avenue B close to the library building. The Mary Arden Lodge was built with the funds of its members and it was architecturally designed with grace and elegance in mind. With their new lodge becoming the social spot on campus, the Mary Arden’s' influence on campus began to take shape as their formation prompted the organization of two all-male clubs, the Lee's and the Reagans.
The history of the club spans the history of the early and mid-twentieth century, providing a perspective into the women of those time periods. During the two World Wars, the Mary Arden Club mirrored the sentiments of the country. Their events were often aimed at promoting all campus war activities which proudly showed support for better times beyond the gray skies of conflict. The creation of the Mary Arden Club, both senior and junior clubs, was intended to open up social opportunities for women and to serve campus and community.
The Mary Arden Club Collection is comprised of materials related to all club and member activities from 1902 to 1935. The documents in this collection display the events, meeting details, club history, meeting minutes of the Junior Mary Arden Club. Each item is a unique glimpse into the history of this club, of women during these time periods, and of the North Texas campus. After 1935, with a few exceptions, documents concern the Senior Mary Arden Club branch. Materials include club books, correspondence, financial documents, invitations, programs, clippings, pamphlets and booklets concerning the history of the Club, roll lists, memorabilia, and guest books.
Clark, Edith Lanier. (1944). Vignettes of Junior and Senior Mary Arden Clubs. North Texas State Teachers College.