The CLYTEAN CLUB is a women’s book club that has met continuously since its founding in Cleveland in 1897. Its original name, The Twelve, reflected a membership cap of twelve people, while the name "Clytean” pays homage to the Greek myth of the nymph Clytie, who according to myth was transformed into a flower to always face the sun, which the club interpreted as an ongoing quest for knowledge. Fittingly, the group’s symbol is a sunflower. 

Clytean’s primary function is as a study group and each year members select a topic around which to plan their readings. During its early years the club donated money and knitted gifts to METRO GENERAL HOSPITAL every Christmas. Currently (2020) they donate money to different charities.

Over the years, the club founded by young wives and mothers has experienced a gradual increase in the average age of members, and now most are of retirement age. Clytean members have included PTA National Field Secretary Fanny Kendel, music teacher and KIWANIS Hall of Fame inductee Alice Hartman Chester, philanthropist Eda Gerstacker and first head of the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY branch department, Bessie Seargent Smith.

Clytean has been recognized by multiple organizations and publications over the years. It became a member of the  FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS OF GREATER CLEVELAND in 1909 and the Ohio Federation of Women's Clubs in 1910.  While the club initially met every Monday, it currently meets one Monday a month from September to May, and the meeting location rotates between members’ houses. Current membership is capped at 15 people. They hold yearly elections, and all members are encouraged to take a turn in club leadership.  Its archives are held by the Special Collections department of the CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY Library. 

Aquene Kimmel


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