The Thirteen Club

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The Thirteen Club (13 Club) is a secret society at the College of William & Mary, founded in 1890, and noted for its philanthropic practices. Little information has been made public regarding their campus activities.[1] In fact, the society maintains such a high level of secrecy that even members' wives and children are unaware of their membership. Such was the case of Louise Kale, Director of William and Mary's Historic Campus, who only became aware of her father's membership after his death.[2] In recent years, they have allowed for outside communication through their campaign "Be Here Now."

Although there are a number of other secret societies with the phrase "Thirteen Club" in their name, there is no known evidence connecting the groups. One such society is the Thirteen Club created in 1880 to debunk the superstition of "13 at a table" being unlucky. By 1887, the Thirteen Club was 400-strong, over time gaining five U.S. Presidents as honorary members: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

In New York at the December 13, 1886 meeting of the Thirteen Club, Robert Green Ingersoll ended his toast, "The Superstitions of Public Men":

We have had enough mediocrity, enough policy, enough superstition, enough prejudice, enough provincialism, and the time has come for the American citizen to say: "Hereafter I will be represented by men who are worthy, not only of the great Republic, but of the Nineteenth Century.


  1. ^ "Shhhhh....It's A Secret | William & Mary". Retrieved 2018-12-06.
  2. ^ "Shhh! The Secret Side to the College's Lesser Known Societies - The DoG Street Journal". 2011-09-28. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2018-12-06.


  • Radford, M. & Radford, E. (1949) Encyclopedia of Superstitions [1]
  • Lachenmeyer, N. 13: The Story of the World's Most Popular Superstition

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