The 20th Century Climbers was a group of young people from Bygland, Minnesota, who met for the first time in the schoolhouse of District #4, Bygland Township, on February 8, 1901. The object of the group was "the general improvement of its members in literary work." At its first meeting, it was decided that Chairman Severin Momb would write the constitution and by-laws for the society, which would then be voted on at the following meeting.
On February 23, 1909, the constitution and by-laws was adopted and Severin Momb was elected President. The president's duties called for presiding over meetings and appointing a literary committee, which would set the agenda for the next meeting. The constitution also created the positions of vice president, secretary, treasurer, and marshal, whose job, by order of the president, was to "restrain nuisance or disturbance." It was also decided that membership was open to anyone who signed the constitution and paid the 10¢ initiation fee.
Meetings were held once every two weeks on Fridays at 8:00pm, and primarily consisted of debates between society members. Such topics debated included: "Are lawyers more beneficial to mankind than doctors," "Is it better to live in the city or in the country," and "Does fear of punishment or reward influence human behavior."
On April 4, 1903, the 20th Century Climbers were informed they could no longer use the District #4 schoolhouse and were forced to look for another facility to hold their meetings. Unable to find a meeting place, the 20th Century Climbers met only two times between the years of 1903 and 1905. There is no record of the society meeting, until they were able to find a regular meeting place in April, 1909.
The society was able to meet at Flaat's Store in Bygland and continued to hold debates and organize events. By this time the society had a library, a newspaper called The Climber, and a new constitution. The new constitution created two new positions, an editor and a librarian, as well as a social committee. It also raised membership fees to 25¢ and designated members as either active or honorary. Active members were those who were over 15 years of age and attended meetings regularly and honorary members being those who could not attend regularly. Due to the closing of Flaat's Store around 1915, and a decline in membership, the 20th Century Climbers disbanded permanently.
Sources: Polk County History, Polk County Historical Society, Polk County Minnesota, 1976
The 20th Century Climbers of Bygland, Minnesota Records
Donation; Acc.# 2005-2765