Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Clubs


OVERVIEW. Put three people together, the German adage holds, and they will form a club. The same can be said about Chicagoans. Starting with the city's earliest residents, Chicagoans have joined clubs and organizations of all kinds and sizes that claimed all kinds of purposes. Ethnic clubs provided safe havens for newcomers and provided services and skills they needed to cope with life in Chicago and the United States. As immigration slowed, the same clubs helped preserve cultural traditions from “home.” Religious denominations created organizations to serve the needs of men, women, and children and to provide services to congregations. Improvement associations brought neighbors together to solve community problems, welcome new residents, and—sometimes—keep others from moving in. From the purely social Jolly Bachelors to the firmly political Alpha Suffrage Club to the clubs that, like Ragen's Colts, defy easy categorization, Chicagoans have created a rich network of institutions that have both reflected and shaped every aspect of life in the metropolitan region.