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 November, they are inviting other interested travelers to join them for dinner, conversation, and a talk by Adam Cole, of the Royal Australian Air Force. During his three-year posting in Washington, D.C., Cole set out to see as much of the United States as possible, and will share photographs and stories from his journeys through American subcultures.
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, 30 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 Wouter van Hoven, who has spent more than 40 years working in wildlife conservation in Africa.
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 Christopher Golden, who spoke about surprising connections between humans and the environment; Patricia Glyn, who described trekking with the Khomani San people in the Kalahari; and Harvard Review editor Christina Thompson, who highlighted the time she spent with the Maori people of New Zealand.
“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 Nov. 14 dinner. Membership in the Harvard Travellers Club is open to anyone with a background in independent, adventurous travel. Nominees elected to membership are expected to contribute to the club’s aims and activities through their past, present and future travels and by regularly attending the monthly events.