Noteworthy Mastermind Groups Of Earlier Times

Mastermind Groups | Famous People | Contributions |

The Junto Club

Benjamine Franklin’s Junto was a club for mutual improvement established in 1727 in Philadelphia. The Junta also was known as the Leather Apron Club. The club’s purpose was to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs.

The group, initially composed of twelve members. Members came from diverse occupations and backgrounds, but they all had one thing in common—they shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and to help others.

Before a person was admitted to the group he had to affirm four questions. The correct response was the key to getting accepted into the ‘mastermind’ group—to become a member. Franklin himself had crafted the four questions.

Further, Franklin devised a second list of questions to guide the discussions at Junto meetings.

Major Contribution:

The American Philosophical Society

The Library Company of Philadelphia

Union Fire Company sometimes called Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade.

The Vagabonds

While, as you read, the story of  The Illustrious Vagabonds reminds you of an earlier form of a reality show, it goes much deeper.

According to several sources, between 1915 and 1924, four famous Americans—Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs, embarked each summer for a camping trip.(1) They called themselves the Vagabonds or Gypsies.(2)

This unusual group—varying in age, personality, and perspective, made for interesting interactions and discussions. But they had one common goal—to learn from each other.

The idea for annual camping trips was conceived, in 1914, when Henry Ford and John Burroughs took a road trip to visit Thomas Edison at his Ft. Myers, Florida home.(3) These trips were a big production, involving numerous passenger cars and campers to carry not only the vagabonds, but the equipment, household comforts, and servants.(4)

On the surface, it may look like all fun and play, but the camping trips were far from it.

Masterminds were at work!

You can read about the inventions that came about in the article The Illustrious Vagabonds, by Dr. David L. Lewis.

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Nine Old Men

Nine Old Man was the group created by Walt Disney that included its core animator some of whom later became directors, who created some of Disney’s most famous animated cartoons, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs onward to The Rescuers.

They were referred to as such by Walt Disney himself. This group co-created many Disney classics such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan.

In addition, the Nine Old Men:

  • refined the 12 basic principles of animation.
  • left a legacy because many animators in the contemporary animation industry can directly or indirectly trace their training to someone who was either their apprentice at Disney Animation or their student at CalArts.

The Inklings

The Inklings was an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England, for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949.

But, according to Warren Lewis, “the Inklings was neither a club nor a literary society, though it partook of the nature of both.”

This group evolved out of the meetings between Lewis and Tolkien, who met week after week, to talk and joke and criticise one another’s poetry.These literary critiques proved to be so interesting and so useful that they invited other writers to join them. The group kept growing to a total of 19 men became members of the Inklings.

…”But as they met throughout the 1930’s and 40’s, extraordinary things began to happen. They generated enormous creative energy. They forged strong personal connections. And together, they helped bring to light some of the greatest literary works of this past century.”(1)

Major Works by C.S.Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and The Space Trilogy

Major Works by J.R.R.Tolkien: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

“There goes C. S. Lewis”, said Fen suddenly. “It must be Tuesday.”

~ Edmund Crispin, Swan Song (1947)

Featured Image: By Not given [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons