The Egyptians is an association of members established for the purpose of “discussing, at stated times and in a social way, such topics as pertain to the welfare, culture and happiness of the people.” The club was organized at a meeting of fifteen men held in the home of the late A. S. Caldwell on June 21, 1913. These men had been meeting as an unorganized group since 1911. The fifteen founders were: Charles N. Burch, Albert S. Caldwell, John B. Cannon, Elias Gates, Charles J. Haase, Edward M. Markham, C.P.J. Mooney, J. Craik Morris, Sanford Morrison, Alfred B. Pittman, John W. Rowlett, Alexander Y. Scott, Bolton Smith, Benjamin Franklin Turner and John C. Wilson.
Before the organization was completed, fifteen others were enrolled as charter members, namely: Albert W. Biggs, Edward Coleman Ellett, William H. Fineshriber, John R. Flippin, Thomas F. Gailor, Marcus H. Haase, Herman Katz, James P. Kranz, Walter Malone, R.B. Maury, H. Dent Minor, A.E. Morgan, Israel Peres, Alfred H. Stone and Luke E. Wright, all men learned in medicine, religion, education, government, law, business and science.
The name “The Egyptians” was proposed by Rabbi William H. Fineshriber, to reflect the connection between ancient Memphis on the Nile River and modern Memphis on the Mississippi River. The By-laws stated that the membership should “consist of not more than thirty-three men of recognized standing, ability and influence in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee.” It was further stated that the members were to present their contributions in the form of papers and that all papers were to be issued in printed form. This clause has resulted in the largest and most significant production of a general nature ever made by any group in Memphis.
From the beginning, members were guarded against internal friction by a constitutional provision that no resolution shall ever be passed committing the club as a body to any proposition. The club is unique in asking that its members honor the unwritten tradition that they not cause its name to appear in the press or media in any connection.
Members meet on the third Thursday of each month beginning in September and ending in May of the following year for dinner and the presentation and discussion of a member’s contribution in written form. Each Regular Member is required to present and deliver his or her paper as announced by the Secretary during the designated term. The subject should be in keeping with the club’s originally stated purpose, but may reflect the work, travels and other particular interests of the member.
The presentation should be limited to approximately thirty minutes and may include visual aids. A copy of the paper, in writing and electronically, should be available and given to the Secretary following the presentation. At the close of the term, papers that have been presented are collected, edited, printed and bound for the mutual benefit of the general public and club members.
Copies of bound volumes from 1914 to present are indexed by subject matter and author and may be found and enjoyed in the Memphis and Shelby County Room of the Benjamin L. Hooks Public Library in Memphis and in local college libraries in Memphis and private collections of current members. An index of papers may also be viewed by author and subject at http://www.theegyptians.wordpress.com.
Classification of members includes Regular Members, Emeritus Members, Senior Emeritus Members and Honorary Members. Emeritus and Honorary Members are excused from the requirement of attendance and presentation of a paper. The club’s members are governed by a written Constitution and By-Laws and membership is non-discriminatory. Prospective candidates for membership are nominated by two members, and are required to submit a curriculum vitae to be reviewed by the club’s officers. If approved, the nomination is voted on by Regular Members according to the By-Laws. Senior Emeritus and Honorary Members do not vote on nominees.
Attendance at all meetings is by invitation from a member only.