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First Fraternities at Dartmouth

Kappa Kappa Kappa

This is a picture of the first fraternity house on Dartmouth's campus, owned by Kappa Kappa Kappa, in 1894.

Dartmouth was established in 1769, and the first social organizations on campus were two literary societies founded in the 1780s: Social Friends in 1783, and United Fraternity in 1786. The two literary societies offered a social atmosphere centered around reading and debate, and both societies maintained a library in Dartmouth Hall containing titles generally not held by Dartmouth’s institutional library. As the main library expanded, student interest in the literary societies dwindled, which led to the founding of the first two fraternity chapters on campus.

The first two fraternities at Dartmouth were founded after two groups of students defected from the United Fraternity. Psi Upsilon became the first fraternity founded at Dartmouth in 1841, and Kappa Kappa Kappa followed soon after in 1842. Psi Upsilon was initially named Omega Phi, but the society received a charter from the national fraternity of Psi Upsilon on May 10, 1842, and has maintained this national affiliations for their entire history at Dartmouth. Kappa Kappa Kappa was founded as a local, and they have remained a local fraternity for their entire history. They are the third oldest local fraternity founded in the United States, and are the second oldest still in operation as of 2021.

“Any graduate or undergraduate of a college or university may be elected a member of this fraternity.” 

Psi Upsilon original constitution

More fraternities would be established at Dartmouth over the next few decades, but the issue of discriminatory membership clauses in fraternity constitutions would not arise until 1884, with the founding of Dartmouth's ninth fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, whose constitution contained a clause permitting only “Aryan” individuals to become members.

Rauner Special Collections Library holds the original constitutions of Psi Upsilon, Kappa Kappa Kappa, and the third fraternity founded on campus, Alpha Delta Phi, and there is no mention of membership discrimination in any of their original documents. There were 11 fraternity chapters established at Dartmouth by 1900—three of which contained discriminatory membership clauses in their constitutions: Phi Delta Theta, Beta Theta Pi, and Sigma Chi.

From the Archives

Membership Clause of Alpha Delta Phi's Original Constitution

The original constitution of Alpha Delta Phi presented members with annual requirements to remain in good standing, and their only membership clause placed a limit on the number of students the chapter could pledge.

Membership Clauses of Psi Upsilon's Original Constitution

In Psi Upsilon's original constitution, Article VI on membership policy consists of six sections, none of which expressed a discriminatory clause to prevent certain groups of students from joining the fraternity.

Kappa Kappa Kappa

Title page of the 70th anniversary pamphlet of Kappa Kappa Kappa, which features the image of their fraternity house shown above.

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