Fifteen Minutes: The Old Boys' Clubs

Years ago, a young Bostonian’s quest for status began the moment he enrolled at Harvard. He needed to enter the right final club, the right country club, the right Boston club, the boards of the right charities and finally, if he reached the ziggurat of Boston society, Harvard’s almighty Board of Overseers. His children would, in their turn, need to go to the right boarding schools, join the right societies and know whether or not the right wines were being served at the right time.

Final clubs were anything but final. After graduation, Harvard society moved on to the plethora of elite clubs that still draw an exclusive membership in twenty-first century Boston.

The Somerset, Union, Tavern, Algonquin, St. Botolph and—for women—Chilton Clubs represented the hub of The Hub. The stature of these clubs was so elevated that no one could aspire to the city’s first circle of power without joining one, or better still, several.

Today, in Beantown, the rules have changed.