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Fraternities Founded from 1860-1899

Several factors changed in higher education during this period. The Morrill Act of 1862 stimulated the creation of land-grant colleges which resulted in more diversified curricula adding agriculture, engineering, and the sciences to the traditional classics, theology, and liberal arts. Faculties began to welcome student self-government. Enrollment was growing rapidly and institutions could not house and feed everyone. The civil War closed many Southern chapters and their national organizations were reluctant to return to the South. A few fraternities were spawned specifically to expand in the South and capitalize on the absence of organizations that once had powerful chapters. An increasing US population, that in itself was becoming more diverse, eventually was reflected in the college population.

Theta Xi




The only fraternity founded during the Civil War. Founded primarily for engineering majors and initially planned to expand only to schools with engineering programs. It changed to a general social fraternity in 1926.

Alpha Tau Omega








Founded by 3 young Confederate soldiers who had been cadets at VMI during the war. Their prime object was to restore the Union by uniting fraternally young men of the South with those of the North. It was the first fraternity established after the Civil War. The first 22 chapters founded were in the South. The first Northern chapter was chartered in 1881.

Kappa Alpha Order








Founded at Washington and Lee. While its alumni rolls includes men from every part of the nation and alumni chapters are found throughout the continental US, the territorial expansion of active chapters, however, has been limited by policy. However, there is nothing of a sectional or regional nature in either the Ritual or the Constitution which would prohibit further expansion into any section of the country.

Kappa Sigma Kappa










Founded at VMI by 4 cadets to assist the school administration in subduing pranksters from two rival groups on campus. Small enrollment and faculty opposition to fraternities in the 1880s affected growth. Chapters became inactive, the last three affiliated with another fraternity in 1886. In 1935 a group of students at the University of Virginia reactivated the old Delta Chapter which expanded; however in 1962, twenty-one chapters merged with Theta Xi.

Pi Kappa Alpha






Founded at the University of Virginia. Although not founded to be regional, the 1889 convention restricted expansion to the South. The 1904 convention authorized chapters in the Southwest. The 1909 convention in New Orleans lifted regional restrictions within the US and in 1933 permission to expand to Canada was granted.

Sigma Nu




Founded at VMI by 3 cadets. Organization proceeded from  the VMI Legion of Honor, a secret society dedicated to the eradication of hazing and other immature practices. At the time of their founding, one of the founders as a Mason.

Kappa Sigma






Founded at the University of Virginia. It was established as an extension of, and was named for, a secret university organization at the University of Bologna in Italy. Three of the founding group had studied there. One of the founding members was also a Master Mason.

Phi Sigma Kappa






Founded at Massachusetts Agricultural College (now U of MA) by 6 sophomores. Founded upon the teachings of the Golden Rule. The first chapter was multi-professional. The second chapter became restricted to medical students and the third to law students.

Phi Kappa Theta








Founded at Brown and Lehigh Universities since it is a consolidation of an equal basis of two predecessor national fraternities - Phi Kappa (1889) and Theta Kappa Phi (1902). Both were founded by Catholic students. The initiation ritual is based on a ceremony written by an SAE, who was a Catholic Priest who had been a minister of the Episcopal Church. PKT was one of the earliest fraternities to adopt a specific colonization procedure.

Delta Chi




Founded at Cornell Law School. Initially restricted to law students. There have been minimal changes to its ritual since its writing. In 1921 it opened its ranks to all students.

Pi Lambda Phi










Founded at Yale. Founded by 3 students of different religious backgrounds.  Their aim was to form a college fraternity on lines broader and more liberal than those employed at the present time - one in which all men are brothers. Formed primarily as a protest against fraternities that excluded Jewish men as well as against the establishment of exclusively Jewish fraternities. Merged with Phi Beta Delta in 1941, Beta Sigma Tau in 1960, and Beta Sigma Rho in 1972.

Alpha Chi Rho






Founded at Trinity College by an Episcopal clergyman and 4 students, one of who was his son. The Father was a member of a local fraternity at Trinity which later became a chapter of Psi Upsilon. Founded upon the concept of the "brotherhood of all men."

Sigma Pi








Founded as Tau Phi Delta Society at Vincennes University. Several alumni attempted to found a second chapter but were discouraged by the Vincennes local.  In 1907 the name was changed to Sigma Pi Fraternity of the United States for the purpose of becoming a national fraternity. It merged with Delta Kappa, a small national, in 1964. With the establishment of a Canadian chapter in 1985, the fraternity became international.

Zeta Beta Tau












Founded by a group of young men attending several universities in New York City who gathered at the Jewish Theological Seminary. After about 2 years the older members scattered and its original Zionist objective eliminated, and in its place a social college fraternity came into being. In 1969 ZBT merged with Phi Sigma Delta (which had previously merged with Phi Alpha). In 1970 it merged with Phi Epsilon Pi (which had previously merged with Kappa Nu). ZBT became non-sectarian in 1954. In 1988, ZBT eliminated the institution of pledging, being the first fraternity to do so.

Tau Kappa Epsilon




Founded as the Knights of Classic Lore at Illinois Wesleyan University. Changed to Tau Kappa Epsilon in 1902. Nationalization was proclaimed in 1901.

Delta Sigma Phi






Founded at the College of New York City. Quickly followed by two other chapters at schools in the New York area. Founded as a non-sectarian organization with no racial restrictions. In 1914, they amended the Constitution to require members to be Christian.

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Last Updated: 2008-03-14 18:23
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