The student literary societies evolved naturally out of the sharing of books among friends and intellectual curiosity beyond the prescribed curriculum. The student literary societies turned what would have been a very narrowly focused classic course of study into a broad, intellectually solid education.
Around 1750, students at the College of William and Mary banded together to form the F.H.C., known to outsiders as the Fat Hat Club. Literary societies such as the F.H.C. grew at many schools over the next 75 years, including the first American group with a Greek letter name: Phi Beta Kappa, also founded at William and Mary in 1776. But in the early nineteenth century, these groups became as stodgy and uninteresting to students as the classic curriculum.
|A Kappa Alpha Key|
|The Delta Phi Seal|
Kappa Alpha Society was a success, as indicated by the establishement of two powerful rivals within two years: Sigma Phi Society in March of 1827 and Delta Phi in November. These members of the "Union Triad" had a Greek name, secret and non-secret mottoes, a grip, and a code of principles or ideals expressed in a ritual or formal initiation ceremony. Their purposes were avowedly social as well as intellectual. Although some of these characteristics had been present in the literary societies, the "Union Triad" comprises a new form of student organization.
|Founding brothers of Sigma Phi Society|
|The Alpha Delta Phi crest|
Beta Theta Pi arose in August of 1839 in opposition to Alpha Delta Phi, which expanded from Union. Phi Delta Theta, established in 1848, was badly hurt by the Civil War, but expanded south shortly after the fighting ceased. Sigma Chi, 1855, was founded by former members of Delta Kappa Epsilon who had refused to elect a brother as poet in the Erodelphian Literary Society merely because he was a brother. They felt he also should have poetic skills.
|Beta Theta Pi's Crest||Flag of Phi Delta Theta||Seven founders of Sigma Chi|
|The Zeta Psi Crest|
In 1879, Zeta Psi established the first chapter in Canada at the University of Toronto. The international flavor of fraternities was well established by 1909 with nine active chapters at the University of Toronto and seven at McGill University in Montreal.