Alpha Delta Phi ( secret society )

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Alpha Delta Phi
Alpha Delta Phi Crest.png
Founded October 29, 1832; 182 years ago
Hamilton College
Type Secret, social, literary
Scope International
Motto Manus Multæ Cor Unum (Many Hands, One Heart)
Colors Emerald and lily white
Symbol Star, crescent, sword, spear,escutcheon
Flower The Lily of the Valley
Chapters 33
Members 50,000+ lifetime
Headquarters 6126 Lincoln Avenue
Morton Grove, Illinois, United States
Homepage Fraternity, Society

Alpha Delta Phi (ΑΔΦ, also Alpha Delt, A.D. or ADPhi) is a North American Greek-letter secret and social college fraternity. Alpha Delta Phi was originally founded as a literary society by Samuel Eells in 1832 at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Its 50,000+ alumni include former Presidents and Senators of the United States, as well as Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. In 1992, five chapters withdrew from the male-only organization to become co-educational, and formed the Alpha Delta Phi Society, a separate and independent organization.


When Samuel Eells arrived on campus at Hamilton College, he found two existing literary societies, the Phoenix and the Philopeuthian, the latter of which he reluctantly joined. Eells quickly became disenchanted with both societies’ unscrupulous recruiting tactics and considered creating his own society which would disavow what he described as jealous and unsavory competition between the two. Eells proposed to select members from both the Phoenix and the Philopeuthian and found a new society of limited membership based on “the loftiest of intellectual and moral ideals.”[1]

Samuel Eells

Portrait of Samuel Eells

On October 29, 1832, Eells gathered four other members, two from the Phoenix and two from the Philopeuthian, to a meeting in his room. The other men were Lorenzo Latham, John Curtiss Underwood, Oliver Andrew Morse and Henry Lemuel Storrs. At that meeting Eells wrote the constitution and he and Latham designed the fraternity’s emblem and symbols. Later in the year, other members were added and the first chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi was in full operation by the beginning of 1833.[1]

Alpha Delta Phi was the first fraternity to establish a chapter west of the Appalachian Mountainswhen it formed a chapter at Miami University in 1835. This chapter preceded the formation of three national fraternities at Miami University known as the Miami Triad in the years that followed.

Alpha Delta Phi is a charter member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (formerly known as the National Interfraternity Conference) (NIC), and a Brother of Alpha Delta Phi, Hamilton W. Mabie (Williams College, class of 1867), was the first President of the NIC. Alpha Delta Phi is today still a member of the NIC; the Alpha Delta Phi Society is not a member of the NIC.

Alpha Delta Phi is both a social fraternity and a literary society. As part of this focus, the Samuel Eells Literary and Educational Foundation sponsors annual literary competitions, which awards cash prizes.[citation needed]


As of August 2015, the Fraternity has 33 chapters, its oldest chapter existing at Hamilton College. In addition, the Fraternity has a regional alumni organization, the Midwest Association of Alpha Delta Phi, which is more than 125 years old. Alpha Delta Phi also has the third oldest continuously-operating chapter in the North America Fraternity System, which is also the second oldest Alpha chapter, placed at Hamilton College. At Yale University, it was mostly brothers of Alpha Delta Phi that were invited to join the university’s top-ranked senior society Skull and Bones. Issues with the number of Alpha Delta Phi’s tapped for Skull and Bones also led to the creation of Yale’s second society, Scroll and Key.[citation needed] Students at Harvard formed a chapter of Alpha Delta Phi but disaffiliated to form the independent final club the A.D.

Cornell chapter[edit]

In 1877, the Cornell chapter’s alumni group built its first house for the undergraduates, which has been described as the ‘first house in America built solely for fraternity use.’[2] The chapter has since moved to a different location.[3]

Dartmouth chapter[edit]

Alpha Delta Phi’s Dartmouth College chapter was the inspiration for National Lampoon’s Animal House.[4] The movie was co-written by Chris Miller and Doug Kenney. Miller based his writings on his own fraternity experiences at the chapter.[citation needed] The chapter was affiliated with Alpha Delta Phi from 1846 until 1969, when it broke away from the national organization and formed an independent one, Alpha Delta.[5]

Notable alumni[edit]

The Society[edit]

The Fraternity is a retronym used now to distinguish the all-male Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity from the co-ed Alpha Delta Phi Society (discussed below). In general parlance, the Fraternity refers to itself simply as the “Alpha Delta Phi”; the Society uses either the “Alpha Delta Phi Society” or “The Society”.

Co-Ed Agreement of 1992[edit]

The Brunonian (Brown University) chapter first initiated women into its local membership in November, 1973 and this was followed by a proposal at the 1974 national convention to either allow individual chapters to admit women or to do so fraternity-wide. This debate was often contentious with most chapters opposed, some members lobbying for full admission of women but a larger number wanting to ban women altogether or grant them some form of associate membership. In 1992 an Agreement was made that allowed five chapters to withdraw from the fraternity (the Brunonian, Columbia, Middletown (Wesleyan University),[6] Stanford and Bowdoin Chapters) and to allow those chapters wishing to be coeducational to create the Alpha Delta Phi Society separate from the existing Fraternity.

Under the terms of this agreement, the Fraternity and the Society are completely separate and independent legal entities with separate governing bodies. The two organizations are not part of the same entity and do not share membership, except for male members of the society who joined before 1992. Both groups are licensees who share the Greek letters and intellectual property such as history and songs. The Society espouses “home rule,” letting each chapter decide whether or not to co-educate. To date, all of its chapters are coeducational. There are limitations on both organizations as to where they can have chapters, and there are limitations on the use of the name Alpha Delta Phi by the Society.