During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Century Association’s gallery was a major venue for artists exhibiting in New York City. Manuscript records of these exhibitions (1869–1920 and 1942–present) provide important information regarding the careers of numerous artists and the development of American art.
These often contain a photographic portrait, correspondence regarding club matters, and obituaries. In many cases, none of this material is still in existence, but dates of membership are available for all members; the candidates’ proposers can be determined as well.
Century Association Yearbooks
First published in 1890, the Yearbooks provide a continuous listing of the membership, date of election to membership, and addresses. They also contain the reports of the Board of Management; the club’s Treasurer; and other committees, as well as the club’s constitution and by-laws. They include memorials to past members, with some notable gaps.
Minutes of the Monthly Meetings and Minutes of the Board of Management
Since its inception the Century Association has met monthly to conduct its business, including the election of candidates to membership. The Board of Management Minutes contain information on the clubhouses and their administration, as well as issues regarding individual members.
Minutes of the Bread and Cheese Club (c. 1824–1927) and Minutes of the Sketch Club (1829–1847)
The Bread and Cheese was a lunch club founded by James Fenimore Cooper sometime between 1820 and 1824; it was a major tributary of the Sketch Club, founded in 1829, from which the Century Association evolved in 1847. Some ten members of the Bread and Cheese were among the twenty-five founders of the Sketch Club. In 1857 three of these members went on to be incorporators of the Century: Gulian C. Verplanck, William Cullen Bryant, and Asher B. Durand. Verplanck was the first President of the Century (1857–1864) and Bryant the third (1868–1878).
Minutes of The Column (1824–1901)
The Column, a literary society founded at Columbia College, became a part of the Century Association when its two remaining members decided their club would make all Centurions members of The Column.
These document the erection and furbishing of the Century’s present landmark home at 7 West 43d Street, designed by McKim, Mead & White and completed in 1891.
Some 260 reel-to-reel audiotapes of lectures, literary evenings, etc., recorded between 1957 and 1975.