The Conversation Club records are comprised of 2.3 linear feet of materials. The bulk of the collection is paper, although
there are also 23 photographs from a photo album of the club. The materials cover a date range from the start of the club
in 1934 to 1995. Materials include original and revised versions of the club’s Constitution and By-laws; retrospective papers
written looking back on the club history; announcements for meetings and meeting minutes; membership lists; schedules of readers
and hosts; correspondence and invitations to membership; and essays written by members to be presented at meetings. The photograph
album is comprised of photographs from a club social in 1988. The largest part of the collection is comprised of the essays
written for discussion at the club meetings.
The Yosemite Conversation Club was organized on April 26, 1934 as a group of men (usually those in well-known positions within
the Yosemite National Park and park concessions hierarchy) who gathered once a month for dinner and a lively discussion. Each
meeting had a host who, originally was responsible for paying for each member’s dinner, although later that responsibility
changed to providing wine for the meeting instead. There was also a reader for the evening, who wrote and presented an essay
meant to spark discussion. These essays ranged in subject from worldly issues, war, and government to economics, education,
and hobbies. Generally, topics of religion and partisan politics were avoided.
Conversation Club meetings were scheduled for the last Monday of each month, beginning with dinner, followed by a reading
of the month’s essay, and ending with a discussion . For many years, dinner was held at the Ahwahnee, but moved for brief
periods to the Yosemite Lodge, the Four Seasons Restaurant, and occasionally, Curry Village. On rare occasions, meetings were
held at the houses of members. The typical number of members was 20 men, but this was amended several times, changing increasing
to 25 or 30 members before changing back to a smaller enrollment number.
Notable members of the Conversation Club include several superintendents, as well as John Curry, Rusty Rust, Charley Proctor,
Ed Hardy, Dr. Avery Strum, and many more.
The problem of dwindling membership began in the 1970’s and continued for the remainder of the life of the club. Meeting nights
were moved from Monday nights to avoid televised broadcasts of Monday Night Football. The club was finally discontinued in