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Fraternities at Amherst College
Beta Theta Pi house (1888)
Fraternities played an important role in the history of Amherst College from the founding of the first "secret society" in 1830 to the dissolution of the fraternity system in 1984. This page is intended as a guide to historical information about fraternities at Amherst College available in the Archives & Special Collections.
A PDF file of the 1984 Final Report of the Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on Campus Life is attached to the end of this page. This Report is part of the Fraternities Collection and includes the full text of the Trustee Resolutions of February 24, 1984.
A page from the 1908 edition of The Olio.
The Amherst Student is an excellent resource full of information about fraternity activities as well as debates regarding their role in student life from the mid-19th century to the present. The Olio also includes substantial sections devoted to fraternity membership and activities. Other student publications include information about fraternities; see the Student and Alumni Publications Collection for information about specific titles. Many volumes of The Amherst Student and The Olio are available in the open stacks in Frost Library; some older and rarer issues are only available in the Archives.
Alpha Delta Phi house (ca.1878)
The single largest collection that documents fraternities at Amherst is The Fraternities Collection. This collection includes correspondence, reports, printed material, newspaper clippings, financial and business records, publications and other materials relating to fraternities at Amherst College through the closing of the fraternities in 1984.
The Clubs & Societies Collection includes information about numerous student organizations, including the Anti-Secret Society (1855-1860), the Lord Jeff Club, and Scarab.
Information about fraternity houses is available in the Buildings & Grounds Collection.
An excellent book that includes substantial material on the history of fraternities at Amherst College is The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities by Professor Nicholas Syrett. Syrett conducted extensive research in the Amherst Archives & Special Collections and his book covers the history of fraternities from their beginnings at American colleges in the early 19th century through the end of the 20th.