Records document the history of the Franklin Literary Society, one of two Lafayette College debating Clubs. Formed in 1830 at the Germantown Manual Labor Academy as the first debating club and originally named the Philomathean Society, it was shortly thereafter renamed the Washington Literary Society. In 1831, twelve members resigned from this society and established the Franklin Literary Society. Debating clubs were the first forms of extra-curricular activity to appear on the Lafayette campus in the nineteenth century, and functioned in some ways as precursors to the future Greek system. In addition to debating, the societies sponsored oratorical and essay contests, enrolled honorary members, and created the college’s first libraries. The records contain minute books, books of exercises, constitution and by-laws, early records, financial records, library records, a roll book, a visitor’s register, gavels, and diplomas. Of particular interest are the minute books, which document the weekly debate topics and results.