The Yale Club has designated 2016 as our year of wellness. To participate, the Library Committee has mounted a small exhibition highlighting achievements in fitness and wellness at Yale, the University of Virginia, and Dartmouth.
Wellness, in all its forms, is very much part of the history of the Yale Club of New York City. Certainly, the gymnasium, pool, and squash courts were an important part of the design of the clubhouse at 50 Vanderbilt, in which the Club took up residence in 1915. But a certain kind of wellness was also part of the original intent of the Club. The mandate laid out in the Club’s charter was to “to promote the frequent meeting together of Yale men to secure mutual understanding and confidence between the University and its graduates, and in general, to uphold the influence and further the interest of Yale University.” The members of the Yale Club sought to promote a social wellness, to become a haven of “mutual understanding and confidence,” and to maintain the health of the reputation and influence of Yale University.
The universities whose alumni are in residence at the Club, Yale as well as Dartmouth and the University of Virginia, boast remarkable legacies of wellness. This exhibition explores some key examples of these legacies of wellness. At Yale, Walter Chauncey Camp built on ideas of Muscular Christianity and the “real” American male to refine and define American Football, and he promoted those values through his popular writing as well as on the field. At Dartmouth, healthy engagement with the American outdoors, even and especially in the coldest months, became a signature of the college in Hanover, New Hampshire, whose denizens helped build the professional skiing industry as we know it. And, at the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s dream of educating Americans who were “fit” for their lives as citizens became a reality. All of the universities represented at the Yale Club boast a record of educating the whole person – of promoting a wellness of mind and body that their students take with them throughout their lives.
“Student Bodies” will be on display in the Yale Club Library until June. Materials and generous assistance with this project were provided by Julia Logan, Processing Specialist at the Rauner Special Collections Library of Dartmouth College, Stephen L. Waterhouse, The Dartmouth Club of New York, and The Virginia Club of New York.