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Finding Aid to the Bohemian Club Collection 1872-2009 BASC 15
BASC 15  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Languages Represented
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Related materials
  • Conservation Note
  • Materials Transferred
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: Book Arts & Special Collections, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco 94102
    (415) 557-4560
    Title: Bohemian Club Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: BASC 15
    Physical Description: 9 manuscript boxes, 1 oversized flat box, and 2 boxes (4 Cubic Feet)
    Date (inclusive): 1872-2009
    Date (bulk): 1890-1970
    Abstract: The Bohemian Club Collection (BASC 15) consists of material covering the activities of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco from 1872 to 2009, with the bulk of material from 1890 to 1970. Assembled from donations to the San Francisco Public Library, the collection contains printed materials from various Bohemian Club activities held at the city club and at Bohemian Grove in Sonoma County. Included are play and concert programs, event posters and fliers, dinner invitations and menus, plays and scripts, a small amount of correspondence, membership records, and notices to members.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored on site.
    Physical Location: This collection is stored in M43.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.

    Languages Represented

    Collection materials are in English.


    Collection is open for research and is available for use during Book Arts & Special Collections hours.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the San Francisco Public Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to Book Arts & Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Bohemian Club Collection (BASC 15), Book Arts & Special Collections, San Francisco Public Library.


    Much of this collection is from unknown sources. It was part of a larger collection, California Authors, established with a bequest from James D. Phelan in 1934, and gifts from Albert M. Bender and other donors such as Dr. and Mrs. Ernest Denicke .

    Related materials

    Researchers are encouraged to see also the Bohemian Grove Photographs 1890-1950 (SFP 104) and George Sterling's Friends and Family Photograph Album, 1898-1905 (SFP 34) at the San Francisco Public Library's San Francisco History Center.
    For detailed information about the Bohemian Club see: The Annals of the Bohemian Club  .
    The San Francisco Public Library also holds several music scores for Grove Plays in the Art, Music & Recreation Center  .

    Conservation Note

    During processing, the entire collection was re-foldered and re-housed in acid-free folders. Some metal staples remain. Most oversized items were flattened and housed in oversized folders.

    Materials Transferred

    The Grove Plays and other published works have been cataloged and can be found in catalog holdings of the San Francisco Public Library. This collection has 105 Grove Plays, several signed by the author or other Bohemian Club members. A list of titles held by the library can be found here: List of Grove Plays held by the San Francisco Public Library (PDF)  , or search our catalog: Grove Plays 

    Administrative History

    Still active today, the Bohemian Club of San Francisco was founded in 1872 as an all-male, private club for men. According to the Annals of the Bohemian Club , the Club started as an informal association of journalists, artists and writers meeting at the home of James Bowman , a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle . The origin of the term bohemian came from the French artistic movement of the 1830's and represented supportive companionship of artists and intellectuals.
    Article I - This organization shall be known as the Bohemian Club. It is instituted for the association of gentlemen connected professionally with literature, art, music, the drama, and also those who, by reason of their love or appreciation of these objects, may be deemed eligible. (Bohemian Club Constitution and By-Laws 1887)
    Of the twenty-four charter members, seventeen were affiliated with newspapers or printing. Journalists were to be regular members; artists and musicians were to be honorary members. Eventually these rules were relaxed to permit people to join who had greater financial resources. This in turn helped to fund a large range of activities for its members. Membership is by invitation only and women have never been allowed full membership at the club. Early Bohemian tradition allowed for restricted visits from women, but women were completely banned from the clubhouse from 1910 to 1933.
    For two weeks every summer, the club meets in Bohemian Grove, a 2,700-acre campground in in the redwoods in Sonoma County on the Russian River, to celebrate what is known as the Midsummer Jinks or Midsummer Encampment. Dramatic play performances, outdoor dinners, orchestral performances, and other rituals are all part of the activities. Guests may be invited to the Grove for either the "Spring Jinks" in June or the main July encampment. Major events include the "Cremation of Care" ceremony and the " Grove Plays. "

    Scope and Contents

    The Bohemian Club Collection (BASC 15) consists of material covering the activities of the Bohemian Club of San Francisco from 1872 to 2009 , with the majority of material from 1890 to 1970 . The bulk of the collection consists of printed ephemera from plays, concerts, art exhibitions, dinners held both at the city club and at Bohemian Grove in Sonoma County which can be found in the Events series and Publications series.
    The collection is particularly strong in graphic materials printed by San Francisco Bay Area printers and presses, including work from Edward Bosqui, Taylor & Taylor, Arion Press, Grabhorn Press, John Henry Nash, Tomoye Press, and Lawton Kennedy. Of note is a complete set of The Nightly Hoot: a journal of revenge, a one-time publication printed by letterpress during the 1910 Summer Encampment, and three scrapbooks of printed ephemera from 1873-1912.


    The collection is arranged in the following series: Series 1: Administrative, Series 2: Correspondence, Series 3: Bohemian Grove Camps, Series 4: Events, Series 5: Scripts, Series 6: Publications
    Series 4 and Series 6 have been further divided into subseries. Series 4: Events has 2 subseries: 4.1: Posters, fliers, invitations, programs and 4.2: Scrapbooks. Series 6: Publications has 5 subseries: 6.1: Newspaper clippings, 6.2: The Nightly Hoot, 6.3 Bohemian Club Library Notes, 6.4: Publications by Bohemian Club members, 6.5: Typescripts.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Clubs -- California -- San Francisco.
    Private clubs
    Men--Societies and clubs
    Theatrical productions -- California -- Bohemian Grove
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
    Bohemianism--United States.
    Bohemian Club (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Phelan, James D. (James Duval)