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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
-The designation "final" club springs from the fact that students would join a series of clubs while at Harvard. In the 19th century, students would join the Institute of 1770, the first social club at Harvard, or the Hasty Pudding Club, and then a waiting club, like the Fox or the Owl. In their junior year, they would join their final club at Harvard. Some waiting clubs later became final clubs as well.
-The first final club, the Porcellian, began in 1791 when Southern students would gather together to have roast pork dinners to feel at home.
-Many of the clubs began as fraternities, but then separated from the national organization. One of the fraternities was the Alpha Delta Phi, which split into the Alpha Delta (now the A.D.) final club and the Phi (now the Fly) waiting club.
-J.P. Morgan Jr., Class of 1889, did not get into the final club of his choice, so he financed the purchase of the Delphic club. There were only a handful of members, so they would keep gas lights burning at all times to indicate their presence.
-Many past Harvard presidents were members of the clubs. Charles W. Eliot, class of 1853, was in the Porcellian, Abbott L. Lowell, Class of 1877, was in the Fly and James B. Conant '14, was in the D.U. (which was absorbed by the Fly in 1995).
-Although Theodore Roosevelt, class of 1880, had been a member, his cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, class of 1904, did not get into the Porcellian-one of the greatest disappointments of his life. He settled for serving as Fly librarian.
-John F. Kennedy '40 and Robert F. Kennedy '48 were members of the Spee club. Younger brother Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 joined the Owl instead.
-In the depths of the Great Depression in 1932, the original Spee (whose name came from the fraternity Zeta Psi) building burned down, but members were able to raise enough money in six weeks to build the current club building.
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