A glee club in the United States is a musical group or choir group, historically of male voices but also of female or mixed voices, which traditionally specializes in the singing of short songs—glees—by trios or quartets. In the late 19th century it was very popular in most schools and was made a tradition to have in American high schools from then on.
Glee in Great Britain (from 1603) or the United Kingdom (from 1707) does not refer to the mood of the music or of its singers, but to a specific form of English part song popular between 1650 and 1900, the glee. The first named Glee Club held its initial meeting in the Newcastle Coffee House in London in 1787. Glee clubs were very popular in Britain from then until the mid-1850s but by then they were gradually being superseded by larger choral societies. But by the mid-20th century, proper glee clubs were no longer common.
The term remains in contemporary use, however, for choirs established in North American colleges, universities, and high schools, although most American glee clubs are choruses in the standard sense, and rarely perform glees.
The oldest collegiate glee clubs in the United States are, by year of foundation: