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Tackling Life’s Big Questions: The Monumental Minutes of the Clionian Debating Society

October 26, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Highlighting an incredible discovery from our archives—a handwritten journal documenting meeting minutes from the Clionian Debating Society, a philosophical group formed in 1847 by and for free people of color in pursuit of intellectual discourse—this CLS original event illuminates a chapter of broad historic influence and interest that has remained largely unknown. Until now.  

Join Dr. Bernie Powers and Professor Angela Ray, of Northwestern University, on Thursday, October 26, from 6:00PM to 7:00PM,  for an historical perspective on this profoundly important discovery.

TicketsMembers – $10 // General Admission – $15

To purchase tickets, click here or call 843-723-9912 from 10AM–4PM, Monday thru Friday.

About the Clionian Debating Society

The Clionian Debating Society was formed in 1847 by a group of free people of color in Antebellum-era Charleston. During the society’s 10-year history, they debated 93 questions among 55 members, honorary members, and supporters listed by name. Members were exclusively male but women are recorded as having donated books to their library and making financial contributions. Members were keenly interested in questions of historical importance, such as whether Charlemagne and Caesar were great men or whether ancient or modern history was more interesting, but did not debate the topic of slavery.

Proceedings of the Clionian Debating Society, 1847-1851, chronicles the voice of this largely unheard population in Antebellum-era Charleston. Acquired in 1919 through the A.W. Dellquest Book Company in Augusta, GA, this 148-page hardback, handwritten journal contains the minutes and notes from the second-half of the debating society’s lifetime. 

Learn more about the society, and our ongoing work to share its story, here.


Charleston Library Society
164 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401 United States
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