Dartmouth’s Phi Beta Kappa Chapter Turns 225


UDPATE 10/29, 4:45 p.m.: All Phi Beta Kappa anniversary events have been relocated to the Hanover Inn. The location change follows this afternoon’s announcement of the closure of all non-essential operations on campus today due to Hurricane Sandy.

The Dartmouth chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the fourth-oldest chapter in the nation, celebrates its 225th anniversary on Monday, October 29, 2012. Dartmouth’s organization, the Alpha of New Hampshire Chapter, will observe the birthday in a number of ways, according to Chapter Secretary Kate Soule, who in August was named president of the national organization of Phi Beta Kappa.

Kate Soule is secretary of the Alpha of New Hampshire Chapter and president of the national Phi Beta Kappa Society. (photo by Eli Burakian ’00)


Soule, Dartmouth’s director of Arts and Sciences Finances and Research Administration, says the celebration on October 29 will include an induction ceremony for 20 new members from the Class of 2013, and a public lecture at 5:15 p.m. in Filene Auditorium in Moore Hall. Teofilo Ruiz, Distinguished Professor of History at UCLA, will deliver the lecture, entitled “The Witch Craze in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe.”

The induction is followed by a dinner for inductees and their guests at the Hanover Inn, says Soule, an event that will feature remarks from Soule about the history of the Alpha of New Hampshire Chapter; and congratulatory remarks by President Carol L. Folt and by John Churchill, secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

“In addition to our celebration, we have installed a display case in the Rauner Special Collections Library, with early documents of the chapter, including the original charter as well as the Phi Beta Kappa seal and several antique Phi Beta Kappa keys. We also arranged for a banner to be hung in the Baker-Berry corridor, featuring images of Phi Beta Kappa at Dartmouth and nationally,” says Soule.

The Alpha of New Hampshire Chapter at Dartmouth College was founded on August 20, 1787, by Hanover native and valedictorian Aarron Kinsman, Class of 1787, who had joined the Alpha of Massachusetts Chapter in 1787 and consequently won permission from  both the Alpha Chapter of Massachusetts at Harvard and the Alpha of Connecticut at Yale to start a chapter at Dartmouth, Soule says, adding that the other founding members were Simon Backus, Ebenezer Brown, Jonas Hartwell, and Pierson Thurston.

“The Dartmouth Chapter distinguished itself from other literary societies then on campus … by electing members at the beginning of their senior year for reasons of intellectual distinction,” says Soule. “Meetings were held once a fortnight with four students designated to argue various aspects of a question set in advance. Regrettably, these disputations do not survive.”

Dartmouth’s Phi Beta Kappa Chapter is one of the oldest continuously operating organizations on campus.

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