Beltionian Literary Society

The Beltionian Literary Society was founded in 1855 during the days of the Illinois Institute and was originally named the Wheaton Philomathean Society. Its mission was "the improvement of all connected with it in debating, social and moral advancement, and general literature." In 1861 a faculty committee was asked to consider separating the Beltionian ladies into their own society. In 1862 President Blanchard ruled that the women withdraw from the Beltionions believing that men and women shouldn't be in the same society together. They formed a sister society, the Aelioian, which met on Friday afternoons. Frances Townsley wrote later, "Whether it was good that man should be alone in this matter, and that Eve should keep this garden of literature without Adam, judge ye!" Bechtel noted that, "Another waggish student spoke of Aeliolians as "a training school for the coming millennium of 'Women's rights'.""  The same student called the Beltionians the "gas works of the institution" (Bechtel, p. 28). In 1868 the Beltionian society split into the Junior Belts and Senior Belts. The society motto was "Striving for the greater and better" and had crimson as their society color. Early in its history the society founded the Beltionian Review, the school's first quasi- newspaper. In addition to maintaining minutes of debate topics, the club purchased a bound volume with blank pages. This book served an appointed an editor and editoress for each term. These editors recopied the best original poems and essays into the Review.  Then new entries were read out loud in the club once every four weeks. The Beltionian society was the oldest running society in Illinois. It disbanded in 1958 along with several other societies.