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Springfield College Records: Cosmopolitan Club (RG 175)

At a party of the Cosmopolitan Club, ca. 1955

Cosmopolitan Club

The Springfield College Cosmopolitan Club was established in 1921. On April 29, 1921 the Springfield Student published that, “…Cosmopolitan Club, a newest organized society, embraced twenty-three members, who came from twelve countries.” The twelve countries of these original 23 members included: Armenia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Switzerland, Uruguay, and America. The club consisted of Active, Associate, and Honorary members. It was founded to give life to foreign students’ aspirations, to bond all the students at the college together in a feeling of brotherhood and international goodwill, and to run activities with other clubs throughout the country. Others aims were defined as follows:

To unite all the students for their mutual benefit, socially, intellectually, morally, and spiritually.

To promote friendly relationships between international and American students. “Friendship is the Motto.”

To bring and help foreign students to adjust to American life and study.

To disseminate accurate information regarding affairs and conditions of all countries represented in the organization.

All foreign students automatically became a member of the club. American students, who were interested in learning about international culture, were welcome to be an Active member, but make up no more than half of the total active membership. The American members did reach an equal number with foreign students in the early 1950s. Interestingly, Dr. Peter W. Karpovich, famous Springfield College Professor and influential exercise physiologist and John Ma, considered the father of Physical Education in China, were both members of the club in 1926. Some of the early Springfield College staff and faculty involved with the Cosmopolitan Club included Professor Frank M. Mohler, Dr. Theodore A. Wiel, Ms. Margaret Wood, and Dr. T. Kidess.

The Cosmopolitan Club was not directly controlled under normal student club governance, but was self-governed. Social and religious activities were held in local churches. The regular business meeting was monthly, and social evenings were enjoyed fortnightly and involved such as activities as dance festivals and international dinners. Speakers were regularly invited to the social activities. Examples include Dr. Laurence Locke Doggett, President of the college, Mr. Crew, YMCA secretary for South America, and Mr. Grossi, secretary of the Italian Student Federation. Athletics events included soccer, basketball, handball, tennis, among many others.

Club members often represented their own countries on campus through social activities, such as a play by H. C. N. de Lanerolle about the marriage custom of Ceylon, in an effort to help all students on campus understand each other. The club also brought foreign students into American home life to be with families and friends, striving to make an international brotherhood.

The club had outreach activities and programs that included sponsored tours of the United States, cultural exchange program, and the annual Cosmo-Picnic. Members representing both Springfield College and Cosmopolitan Club from time to time gave talks on and off campus. The club also closely cooperated with groups at Mount Holyoke College and Smith College. Two of the most notable events that the club sponsored and participated in were the Model League of Nationals and the State Older Boy’s conference.

The club even adopted a song, “the Glow of Springfield’s Light.” The words were written by Mrs. Edgar M. Robinson, wife of Edgar M. Robinson, and the music was composed by H. C. N. de Lanerolle of Ceylon.

With the growing number of International students on campus, the International Center was officially established at Springfield College in June 1965. From that point on, the Cosmopolitan Club was closely connected with the International Center, with the director of the International Center mentoring and being involved with club activities. In 1985, the commemoration of Springfield College Centennial, the club and the International Center awarded certificates to the International Alumni as a recognition and communication.

The Cosmopolitan Club finally disbanded in the mid-1990s. Some of its roles were taken over by the International Student Organization (ISO) in 1996. In addition to the Cosmopolitan Club, there have been other international clubs at Springfield College. These included the Foreign Mission Club, the International Literary Society, the Student Society for Cultural Diversity, the International Student Club, and the International Relations Club.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Cosmopolitan Club Records collection contains brochures, newspaper articles, photographs, and miscellaneous printed materials dating from its founding in 1921 to the early 1990s. The vast majority of the materials in the collection are photographs taken between 1922 and 1980. These include many group photographs of club members and some photographs from events held by the club. Also included is a pamphlet of a Farewell banquet to senior members of the club held on May 19, 1922 that includes signatures of the members, “The First Cosmopolitan Song Book” published in 1940 that contains sheet music and lyrics of songs from other countries, and a talk titled “What Makes Springfield College Special?” by Dr. James A. Ajala (May 4, 1990) that was co-sponsored by the Cosmopolitan Club and the Minority Student Alliance and was part of the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the International Center at Springfield College. There is also an animal skin that was signed by many of the Cosmopolitan members between the years 1924 to 1949 that was presented to B. M. Clough.