Harvard Travellers Club Brings the World to Boston

From trekking in the Kalahari to exploring the ghostly ruins of Sable Island, every month the members of the Harvard Travellers Club are transported to another part of the world—from the comfort of the Harvard Club on Commonwealth Avenue. In March, they invite other interested travelers to join them for dinner, conversation, and a talk by Daryl Hawk. A travel writer and professional photographer, Hawk will regale the club with stories and pictures of the some of the most remote places on earth.

The Harvard Travellers’ Club traces its roots to Harvard’s eminent geographer, Professor William Morris Davis, who, in association with Copley Amory, Archibald Cary Coolidge, Roland B. Dixon, and James H. Kidder, invited local men to meet in an effort to promote and discuss ‘intelligent travel and exploration.’  In the fall of 1902, thirty men responded to the call.

Since the initial days of the club, the membership has grown in number and diversity (for example, women are now included in the ranks!). Today, members continue to commit themselves to intelligent travel and continue to be curious about other locales and other ways of life. Certainly unchanged is members’ enjoyment in learning of one another’s travels.

In 1913, the club began to meet at the Harvard Club on Commonwealth Avenue—a tradition which continues to this day.  The club currently meets eight times a year for cocktails, dinner, and a lecture.  This season kicked off with a lecture by accomplished Everest climbers Brad and Tonya Clement.  Past lecturers have included polar explorers Peary and Shackleton, mountaineers Mallory, Smythe, and Washburn, the great Central Asian explorer Sir Francis Younghusband and President Theodore Roosevelt.

Recent highlights include fascinating presentations by journalist Sebastian Junger, who reported on his time in Afghanistan; Dr. Wouter van Hoven of Operation Noah’s Ark, who spoke about repopulating the wildlife in Angola; and Harvard Review editor Christina Thompson who highlighted the time she spent with the Maori people of New Zealand.  Last January, the club celebrated its 850th meeting, recreating the dinner menu served when President Roosevelt addressed the club.

“Our members join together to share stories of distant places, rugged climbs, boating expeditions, and foreign cultures and traditions. This companionship drives the club forward,” says club president and Boston resident Peter Creighton.  “I love learning about members’ adventures.”  To that end the club is welcoming potential new members and interested parties to attend their April 11 dinner.  Membership in the Harvard Travellers Club is open to anyone with a background or interest in independent, adventurous travel. Nominees elected to membership are expected to contribute to the club’s aims and activities.

Interested parties should visit http://www.harvardtravellersclub.org for more information, and contact [email protected] to attend a dinner and lecture.

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