Club History

May (Mary Elizabeth) Wright Sewall (May 27, 1844—July 22, 1920)

The Contemporary Club was started by well-known and civically active Indianapolis resident May Wright Sewall. In 1890, there were no organizations that encouraged the intellectual gathering of both men and women. Ms. Sewell envisioned a club where members of both sexes stood on equal ground, discussing topics of the day and enjoying programs highlighting speakers from all walks of life. Poets and politicians, athletes and artists, explorers and executives – all have been welcomed to bring their unique stories and perspectives to generations of club members.

Both men and women have held leadership roles in the Contemporary Club since the beginning. Many of central Indiana’s most outstanding community leaders have played an important role in guiding the club through three centuries. Click HERE for a complete list of Contemporary Club leadership through the years.

A comprehensive history of the Contemporary Club has been assembled for those wishing to delve more deeply into the club’s fascinating past. It includes “The First Fifty Years 1890-1940,” a piece written in 1940 by long-time members Charlotte Jones Dunn and May Louise Shipp. The second part is by Jane Moore Howe Brown and is titled “The Third Quarter Century 1940-1965.” Ruth Farq Banta contributed “The Century Mark 1965-1989” and an excerpt from Nelson Price’s highly entertaining program at the 120th Birthday Celebration in 2010 rounds out out the rest of the 20th Century. Click HERE to download and enjoy this unique glimpse into the history of Indianapolis and one of its oldest social organizations.

Here are just a few speakers who have entertained and enlightened audiences since 1890: