A glee club is a musical group or choir group, historically of male voices but also of female or mixed voices, which traditionally specializes in the singing of short songs—glees—by trios or quartets. In the late 19th Century it was very popular in most schools and was made a tradition to have in American High Schools from then on. The first named Glee Club was founded in Harrow School, in London, England, in 1787. Glee clubs were very popular in the UK from then until the mid-1850s but by then they were gradually being superseded by choral societies. By the mid-20th century, proper glee clubs were no longer common. However, the term remains in use, primarily for choirs found in North American colleges and universities, despite the fact that most American glee clubs are choruses in the standard sense and no longer perform glees. Glee in this context does not refer to the mood of the music or of its singers, but to a specific form of English part song popular between 1650 and 1900, the glee.
The oldest collegiate glee clubs in the United States are the Harvard Glee Club, founded in 1858; the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club, founded in 1859; the Yale Glee Club, founded in 1861; The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club, founded in 1862; the Amherst College Glee Club, founded in 1865; the Cornell University Glee Club founded in 1868; the Virginia Glee Club, founded in 1871, the Rutgers University Glee Club, founded in 1872. and the Princeton Glee Club, founded in 1874. The Mendelssohn Glee Club, founded in 1866, is the oldest non-collegiate glee club in the United States.
- Bacon, Richard Mackenzie (1820). "The Catch and Glee Clubs". The Quarterly musical magazine and review (London) II (VII): 328ff.
- "History of the Harvard Glee Club". Retrieved 2009-10-15.
- "The University of Pennsylvania Archives".
- "Amherst Glee Club Website".
- "Glee Club History". Retrieved 2009-12-13.
- Bruce, Philip Alexander (1921). History of the University of Virginia, 1818-1919 IV. MacMillan. pp. 127–128, 841.
- "RU Glee Club History". Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- New York Library for the Performing Arts. "Mendelssohn Club Papers" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-02-25.
- J Lloyd Winstead. When College Sang: The Story of Singing in American College Life University of Alabama Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8173-1790-4