The club was founded on 27 October 1860 by students of Trinity Hall although it quickly elected members from other colleges. The note by the secretary at the front of later minute books that it had existed in an earlier form known as the ''Round Table'', 1838-46, is an error based on a misreading of meeting numbers for dates. In fact, it was in the brief period October 1862-February 1863 that it went by that name. Its declared purpose was ''the promotion of rational conversation''. It aimed to achieve this by the intellectual discussion of an original paper read by the member in whose rooms they had met. It drew its members from both undergraduates and senior members and like the similar Cambridge Conversazione Society (also known as the Apostles) the club was self-selecting, secretive and limited in number. Some members of the club (e.g. F.W. Maitland, E.M. Forster) are also known to be members of the Apostles and the depositor, Montague Rhodes James, mentions the society's response to this dual membership in his introductory letter concerning the society. This letter is tipped into the first volume. The club continued to meet until 1897. A description of the club is to be found in W. H. Wilkins (W.H. de Winton) and H. Vivian's novel ''The Green Bay Tree. A tale of to-day'' (Hutchinson, London, 1894) which reports ''the proceedings of the Society...slanderously'' according to the minutes of the club meeting of 13 October 1894.
For each meeting of the club the secretary noted the time and location, the names of members present, the names of guests present, the title of the paper given and by whom. Occasionally there are brief notes of other business such as the proposals of new members for election.
Examples of paper titles are: ''The Review of the Nineteenth Century'', 10 May 1862; ''Milton's Political Opinions'', 2 February 1872; ''Morality without Dogma'', 8 June 1878; ''Definitions of Beauty'', 8 Dec 1884; ''Sheridan Le Fanu'', 4 February 1893.
The records were transferred to the University Archives from the Manuscripts Department on 18 October 2007. They had been given by Montague Rhodes James, Provost of Eton, to the Manuscripts Department on 23 September 1918 and had been given the classmarks Ms.Add.6151-5