Greek-Letter Fraternity Pins
Tau Beta Phi. Engineering
honor society found in 1885 at Lehigh.
Phi Beta Kappa. First Greek
letter organization, now an honor society. Founded in 1776 at William and
Mary. This one is from Vassar and is dated both í92 and 1899. Later pins
only have three stars.
Alpha Xi Delta. National
sorority founded in 1893 at Lombard College.
Phi Sigma Sigma. National
sorority founded in 1913 at Hunter College.
fraternity founded in 1905.
Mu Phi Epsilon. Music
fraternity founded in 1903 at Metropolitan College of Music.
Alpha Phi. National sorority
founded in 1872 at the University of Syracuse.
Zeta Psi. National
fraternity founded in 1847 at NYU.
Sigma Pi Sigma. Physics
honor society founded in 1921 at Davidson College.
Pi Kappa Delta. Forensics
honor society founded in 1913 at Ottawa University.
Gamma Phi Beta. National
sorority founded in 1874 at Syracuse University.
Phi Gamma Delta. National
fraternity founded in 1848 at Washington and Jefferson.
Delta Omicron. Music
sorority founded in 1909 at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Alpha Tau Omega. National
fraternity founded in 1865 at Virginia Military Institute.
Alpha Delta Phi. National
fraternity founded in 1832 at Hamilton College.
Kappa Sigma. National
fraternity founded in 1869 at University of Virginia.
Zeta Beta Tau. National
fraternity founded in 1898 in New York.
Alpha Omicron Pi. National
sorority founded in 1897 at Barnard College.
Kappa Psi. Pharmacy
fraternity founded in 1879 at the Russell Military Academy in New Haven,
Connecticut by F. Harvey Smith.
Delta Kappa Epsilon.
National fraternity founded 1844 at Yale.
Alpha Delta Kappa. Honor
Psi Upsilon. National
fraternity founded in 1833 at Union College.
Sigma Nu. National
Fraternity founded in 1868 at Virginia Military Institute.
Chi Omega. Pledge pin.
National sorority founded in 1895 at University of Arkansas.
Delta Upsilon. Non-secret
national fraternity founded in 1834 at Williams College. This is an old one
from Washington and Jefferson.
Delta Upsilon. Contemporary
Kappa Delta Pi. Educatorís
honor society founded in 1911 at the University of Illinois.
Delta Tau Delta. National
fraternity founded in 1858 at Bethany College.
Phi Delta Kappa. Educatorís
fraternity founded in 1906 at Indiana University.
Phi Beta. Music and Drama
sorority founded in 1912 at Northwestern University.
Alpha Psi Omega. Drama honor
society founded in 1925 at Fairmont State College.
Beta Alpha Psi. Accounting
honor society founded in 1925 at University of Illinois.
Alpha Chi Omega.
National sorority founded in 1885 at DePauw University.
Sigma Chi. National
fraternity founded in 1855 at Miami University (Ohio).
Phi Delta Theta. National
fraternity founded in 1848 at Miami University (Ohio).
Delta Chi. National
fraternity founded in 1890 at Cornell University.
Phi Delta Kappa. Educatorís
fraternity founded in 1906 at Indiana University.
Pi Kappa Phi. National
fraternity founded in 1904 at Charleston College.
Delta Kappa Gamma. Honor
society for women teachers founded in 1929 at the University of Texas.
PEO Sisterhood. Founded
in 1869 at Iowa Wesleyan University.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
National fraternity founded in 1856 at the University of Alabama.
Nu Sigma Nu. Medical
fraternity founded in 1882 at the University of Michigan.
History of the Greek Letter Fraternities
"I, A. B., do swear on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, or otherwise
as calling the Supreme Being to attest this my oath, declaring that I will,
with all my possible efforts, endeavor to prove true, just, and deeply
attached to this our growing fraternity; in keeping, holding, and preserving
all secrets that pertain to my duty, and for the promotion and advancement of
its internal welfare." Thus the oath of fidelity was administered
to the respective initiates and candidate of the oldest North American College
Fraternity known as Phi Beta Kappa Society.
American College Fraternities, which are more commonly recognized today as the
Greek-letter Fraternities, have a sinuous correlation with Freemasonry.
Not all college fraternities bear Greek-letter nomenclature. However,
the vast majority of college fraternities have followed the example set forth
by the earliest know college secret society, Phi Beta Kappa, in creating a
name composed of two or three letters from the Greek alphabet.
of the Phi Beta Kappa Society came significantly at the heels of the American
Revolution and not surprisingly within the very township that helped to foster
the Declaration of Independence. Phi Beta Kappa began its maiden voyage
on December 5, 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg,
mission of this new organization, known as Phi Beta Kappa, was to provide a
private literary forum, which later became known as a "debating
club", whereby students could hone their dialectic skills. It was
not enough for students to amass a great deal of book knowledge; they also
needed to be able to apply that knowledge and to develop an agility of the
mind capable of thinking on one's feet. More importantly, students need
to acquire the competency to express their ideas and make others feel the
impetus of the thoughts being conveyed. Dr. Oscar M. Voorhees in his
expose' "The History of Phi Beta Kappa", quotes from the 1832
Catalogue of the Linonian Society of Yale that "...the object of our
Fraternity is to provide the intellectual improvement of its members by the
study and practice of forensic debate, by exercises in composition and
elocution, and by the delivery at stated times of writing orations and poems,
and also to cultivate friendly and social feelings among members of all
classes in college."
emblem of the Phi Beta Kappa Society was a silver square distinctive medal
bearing the engraved initials S.P. and the date December 5, 1776 on one side
and the Greek-letters F B K on the other side. According to Albert C.
Stevens in "The Cyclopedia if Fraternities", the emblem was
redesigned into "an oblong watch-key made of gold, on one side of which
are engraved the Greek-letters F B K, with a hand below pointing to seven
stars above, while on the reverse is the name of the owner and the letters S.P.
and date of December 5, 1776." Stevens further states that
"...the apparent mystery in this badge, which tradition informs us was
originally worn on a ribbon about the neck of the owner... the seven stars
refer to the parent chapter and its six branch chapters, from which the
college secret societies of today may be said to have descended.
Forgetfulness of the original chapters of Phi Beta Kappa is prevented by
the hand, which perpetually points through the motto to the seven stars.
sign given by a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society "was made by placing
two fingers of the right hand over the left corner of the mouth and drawing
them across the chin. His grip was made by locking the hands without
clasping thumbs at the same time pressing the wrists; and his 'word' was the
motto for which the Greek-letters F B K stood."
fraternal college orders were singular in nature amongst secret societies as
their membership was open exclusively to an aristocracy of social advantage
and educational opportunity. The prospective candidate is introduced to
the fraternity through his sponsor where he/she undergoes an intensive
scrutiny of conduct and conversation. The process of conduct and
scrutiny is known in the vernacular of the fraternity as "rushing"
the candidate. If the prospective candidate make a favorable first
impression, he is invited to attend several social functions of the
fraternity, where the intensive watch continues. If the members of the
fraternity are satisfied with his social skills and interaction, and are
convinced that he/she will be a desirable acquisition, they will be presented
with a formal invitation to join the fraternity. The invitation is
commonly referred to as the "bid" amongst fraternal brothers.
Should he/she accept the invitation, they are said to have been
"pledged". Finally, upon being duly initiated into the
fraternity and earning the privilege of wearing the badge or colors of the
order, they are said to have been "swung out".
"swung out" the novice member is still kept under strict
observation. The author, Albert Stevens, writes that the newly made
members is "guarded against falling behind in class work and is taught
during his first year that neither he nor his opinions are of any
importance. By the time he is a sophmore he has learned to make
allowance for everyone's point of view." The indirect reference to
the teachings of Freemasonry is self-evident. Tolerance is one of the
watchwords of the Craft, and one cannot but reflect upon the previous
statement about making allowances for the viewpoints of others. Harmony
being the support of all institutions!
footsteps of the Greek-letter Societies, a lesser-known group of university
undergraduates formed an organization of Hebrew-letter Societies. On
June 5, 1895, a Masonic Club was founded and incorporated at the University of
Michigan. The Masonic Club piqued a great deal of interest in
Freemasonry amongst young students enrolled at the University of
Michigan. After a short-lived success, several ardent members of the
Masonic Club decided to launch a national organization in 1904, which they
named the Acacia Society based upon the structure and ideals of the Masonic
Club. The first meetings of the Acacia Society were held in a boarding
house located at 236 South Thayer Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan. During
these meetings, the membership agreed to establish different chapters of the
Acacia Society at various colleges and universities using Hebrew-letters to
differentiate the Acacia Chapters from the more common Greek-letter Chapters.
Acacia Chapter was incorporated on May 12, 1904 at the University of Michigan
and was named Aleph Chapter. Other Chapters soon followed with Beth
Chapter being formed at Stanford University, Gimel Chapter at the University
of Kansas, Zayin Chapter at Dartmouth College, Teth Chapter at Harvard
University, Samehk Chapter at Purdue University, Tsadhe Chapter at Colombia
University, Aleph-Daleth Chapter at Syracuse University and Aleph-Beth Chapter
at Northwestern University, to name a few. The official badge or emblem
of the Acacia Society is a right-angled triangle of gold with jeweled borders,
within which are three smaller triangles marked respectively by the three
Hebrew-letters Shin, Teth and He.