Newly Opened Collection: Ace of Clubs Records

by Lauren Wallace, Graduate Student Intern (Simmons College GSLIS)

We are pleased to announce that the Ace of Clubs Records is now open and available for research. This collection features the administrative, social, and photographic records of the Ace of Clubs Charitable Organization. From charity events to by-law revisions, President’s books to Secretary journals, the collection documents the charitable activities of the organization, founded in 1911 by Rose Fitzgerald (later known as Mrs. Rose Kennedy) and Miriam Finnegan. The object of the Club was to foster its membership’s interest in social, educational, cultural, and charitable activities.

Initially founded as a limited membership club for unmarried Catholic women who had traveled or been educated abroad in the early 1900s, it later grew into a club of social elites, with up to 400 members. The Ace of Clubs gave women a chance to expand their intellectual, social, and cultural enrichment by hosting guest speakers, balls, fundraisers, art auctions, fashion shows, and many other activities.

To facilitate educational enrichment, the Ace of Clubs hosted a series of lectures for its members. Among some of the more notable speakers were: John F. Kennedy during his time as Senator of Massachusetts; John F. Fitzgerald, former Mayor of Boston and father of Rose Kennedy; and Letitia Baldrige, former White House Social Secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy. Included here are various documents that highlight the important records within the collection.

Below are Club meeting minutes that document a speech given by John F. Fitzgerald. He appeared as a guest speaker for the Ace of Clubs and spoke on the “Future of Boston” on November 28, 1932.[1]

The Second meeting of the Ace of Clubs was held at the Hotel Somerset on Monday, November twenty-eight at one o’clock. A complimentary luncheon for the members was greatly enjoyed. The president, Mrs. William B. Burkes introduced the guest speaker. The Honorable John F. Fitzgerald who made an appeal to the Catholic Women to assist in the future of Boston. It was voted to hold a dance, the date left to the discretion of the board. An interesting exhibit of handicraft followed. Prizes being voted to Miss Hannah Reardon, first prize, Miss Katherine Manning, second prize, and two honorable mentions, one to Miss Marie Quinlan and to Miss Gladys Carew. The new members introduced to the club were Miss Hannah Reardon, Mrs. Nom Blakes, Virginia Manning, Isabel MacDonald, Marion Maloney, Margaret Quinn. Mme. Joly spoke to the members about forming a French class. A group was formed. Respectfully submitted, Gladys Carew. Secretary.

During his term as U.S. Senator, John F. Kennedy spoke to the Ace of Clubs on “Current Events” at the Harvard Club of Boston on May 13, 1957. Below is the meeting minutes entry by Club Secretary, Esther F. Ronan:[2]

“The Seventh meeting of the 1956-1957 year was held at the Harvard Club of Boston. The Club was most fortunate to hear Senator John F. Kennedy Speak on ‘Current Events.’ This evening meeting was well attended by members and their guests. Respectfully submitted, Esther F. Ronan.” View the entire folder here.

The Ace of Clubs hosted an annual fundraising event to sponsor a selected charity. Events included balls, art auctions, and fashion shows. Several charities of note sponsored by the Ace of Clubs were the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The 1963-1964 Ace of Clubs scrapbook documents the Club’s activities. Featured below are materials from monthly meetings in February and March 1964. Included are programs and clippings from the newspaper column, “Social News,” covering luncheons and charity events. The collection holds several scrapbooks documenting the organization through the late 1990s.

View the entire folder here.

Featured below is the Club’s charity fundraising event, “Gentleman’s Night.” The event was postponed for two months in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s death. The Club President at the time was President Kennedy’s cousin, Pauline Fitzgerald.

View the entire folder here.

Overall, the Ace of Clubs supported many charities and institutions over its ten decades of service.[3] As seen above, the Club continually supported the Kennedy family, whether by staying in contact with Rose Kennedy long after she stepped down as an officer, or sponsoring activities in support of the family during times of mourning. In May 1964 the Club received thanks from Jacqueline Kennedy for its donation to the John F. Kennedy Library in memory of President Kennedy. Additionally, the Club received several thank-you letters from Rose Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy for its continued support, examples of which are featured below.[4, 5]

Letter from Rose Kennedy to Mrs. John Reilly thanking Mrs. Reilly for her recent note and update on the program activities of the Ace of Clubs, December 6, 1968.  View the entire folder here.

Letter from Edward M. Kennedy to Mrs. John M. Slattery thanking her for the Club’s recent contribution toward the establishment of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, January 15, 1970.  View the entire folder here.

Over the years, the Ace of Clubs strove to maintain and to stay true to the founding goals established by Rose Kennedy and Miriam Finnegan in 1911. Due to declining membership, the Club was disbanded in 2011 after celebrating 100 years of service. During those 100 years, the Ace of Clubs succeeded in providing financial support to local charities as well as educational and cultural enrichment to its membership.

1. Box 12, Folder: “Scrapbook: 1963-1964 (1 of 2 folders),” pages 11-12 [AOCR-012-004-p0015 and -p0016].
2. Box 4,  Folder: “Correspondence: Signed letter from Rose Kennedy, 6 December 1968” [AOCR-004-014-p0001].
3. Box 4, Folder:  “Correspondence: 1954-1981” [AOCR-004-013-p0037].
4. Box 15, Folder: “Secretary’s Journal: 1925-1939” [AOCR-V0015-001-p0018].
5. Box 16, Folder: “Secretary’s Journal: 1953-1969” [AOCR-016-001-p0047].

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