This Week in DKE History May 25th - May 31st

May 25, 1857

Prior to this date, juniors at colleges were referred to as “actives” and seniors were “honorary”.  The bylaws of the Fraternity were amended so that juniors and seniors were placed on the same footing:  “… and have a vote on the same footing with juniors and have a vote on all matters except class politics”.

May 25, 1970

The Executive Committee of the Fraternity voted unanimously to grant full Colony status to the Sigma Phi Omega Local Fraternity at Villanova University.

May 25, 1988

The Trustees of Bowdoin College voted that any fraternity not accepting women as full members would not be recognized by the College after September 1, 1991.  At their annual meeting on June 1, 1991, the trustees and directors of the Theta Chapter House Association voted to “reluctantly disaffiliate from Delta Kappa Epsilon International pending the outcome of certain litigation or until either Delta Kappa Epsilon or Bowdoin College alters its unreasonable intrusion on the freedom of choice and association of its affiliated organizations”. The former Deke House is now used as the office for the Registrar of the College but the House still retains a number of Deke features, including a circular stained glass crest above the entranceway, the original 1844 Charter from Phi Chapter and a number of pieces of Deke furniture.  The Library for the College houses the records of the Theta Chapter going back to its founding in 1844.

May 26, 1855

The Minutes of Phi Chapter dealt with what was Rho Chapter at the University of Indiana.  The Minutes reflect the following:”News being rec’d of the demise of The University of Indiana, it was voted that the Charter and books be returned.”  Later that year, Lafayette College, which was originally to have been designated as Omega Chapter, was granted the Rho designation.  The early records of the Fraternity are lost so it is not known when the original Chapter was founded. However, it is obvious that it was founded among the first 20 Chapters of the Fraternity. In 1862, 1904, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, and 1921 applications were received to re-establish a chapter at Indiana University but all of the applications were denied.

May 27, 1937

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opened at a cost of $27,125,000.  The bridge was designed by engineer Charles A. Ellis (Gamma Phi-Wesleyan University).  In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers named the Golden Gate Bridge as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World”.  Brother Ellis also designed the Montreal Harbour Bridge.

May 28, 1885

We acknowledge and salute the considerable contributions to industry and to the University of Chicago made by Edward F. Swift (Phi-Yale University) who died this day at age 81. Brother Swift was the Chair of Swift & Company founded by his father Gustavus Swift.  His brother, Harold H. Swift (Delta Delta-Chicago), was a most generous donor to his alma mater, The University of Chicago.  He was Chair of the Board of Trustees (1922-1949), and the donations that he made and that were made by the Swift Family subsidized the Library at the school as well as numerous departments, research projects, student prize funds, lectureships, and endowed professorships.  Brother Harold Swift became a Director of the Company in 1918, Vice Chairman of the Board in 1937, Chairman of the Board in 1948 and Honorary Chairman of the Board after 1955.  In 1914, Brother Harold Swift became the first graduate of the University of Chicago to be elected a Trustee of the University.  Brother Harold Swift was also a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1931 to 1950 and served on the President’s Commission on Higher Education (1946-1948).  Honorary degrees were conferred on him by Brown University (1933) and the University of Chicago (1949).  Brother Harold Swift died on June 8, 1962.  Swift Hall at the University of Chicago is named in his Honor.  It houses the Divinity School of the University. 

May 28, 1885

The Deke Club of New York was officially opened at 36 West 34th Street in the presence of two of the founders of the Fraternity, Dr. Shapleigh and Dr. Bartlett. The Club was described as being between the great marble dwelling of A.T. Stewart on the north and the mansion of William Astor on the south. The Club had its inception at a banquet held at Delmonico’s on February 6, 1885 when 200 Dekes gathered.  After three years of subscriptions for the proposed club, the 200 subscriptions allowed the Club to be rented and furnished.  The photograph shows the Club building now. In a speech, Dr. Shapleigh said:

“Gentlemen and Brothers:  My words are unequal to express the pleasure and pride I feel tonight.  As a father who loved his children – talented children – I feel pride in you all.  Little did I think when I acted as one of the obstetricians at the birth of the DKE that it would grow so large and be so magnificent. I therefore take pride in seeing how it has spread and how great it will be in the future.  In the first chapter which was formed, we had many obstacles to contend with.  The Faculties of all the colleges were opposed to secret societies.  At Yale, there were two societies who carried everything their own way.  We got together a band of genial, jovial men, fond of good fellowship, and we formed this institution.  We had some faith then that it would spread, for that very year Dr. Bartlett, of your city, and I were sent as missionaries to Bowden, to institute a chapter there, which, I believe, was next in birth to our own.  You see how it has spread, but I had no idea that I should see so many here tonight; no idea that I should find you so magnificent; and I know that it will benefit you all, for here you will form new friendships and cultivate old friendships.  The friendship of youth is akin to love; there is an intensity about it that the friendship of after years can never equal.  Therefore I would advise you to meet here often and keep up the memories and the friendships of youth, and as you go along through life, you will find how much you are indebted to us for founding the DKE.  I will not detain you, but, as your patriarch (I think I am the only one here now, though Brother Bartlett will be here presently) – as your patriarch I greet you and wish you God speed, and may you all be happy and joyous.”

May 28, 1986

The United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp honoring Robert E. Peary (Theta-Bowdoin College) and Matthew Henson for their accomplishment of being the first to reach the North Pole.  With Mr. Henson, four Eskimos, five sleds and 40 dogs, Brother Peary reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909.

May 29, 1856

A Charter is granted to the New York Free Academy, later known as the College of the City of New York (C.C.N.Y.). Although the charter date is often shown as August 1, 1856, it appears that the Charter was granted on an earlier date and it was the initiation of the Charter members which took place on August 1, 1856. Nine Charter members had applied to “Mother Phi” for a Charter. In the 1910 Catalogue of the Fraternity, the following was set out:

At the Nu dinner of February, 1906, Brother Babcock – 57, one of the first patriarchal nine, told us that the charter was granted in May, 1856, and that the initiatory grip was given to the nine component atoms of the original nucleus by a Sigma Deke, who happened to be in the city with the Amherst debating team.  The chapter found its first quarters in a large loft on the Bowery near Houston Street (which Bro. Babcock said was a very respectable neighborhood at the time), which the boys partitioned to suit the chapter’s requirements, and wither, Bro. Blake tells us, every stick of their furniture was carried on the backs of the new illustrious Pilgrim Fathers.

Nu Chapter was the first Chapter of the Fraternity in New York City.

May 29, 1889

Charles Avery Doremus (Nu-CCNY) files a patent in Germany relating to a “process for purification and softening of water”.  His method aimed at removing calcium and magnesium from water by precipitation by using insoluble fluorides.  Brother Doremus was a Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology in the metal department at the University of Buffalo, became assistant to the Chair of the Chemistry and Physics Department at CCNY in 1882 and was later Professor of Chemistry in the American Veterinary College.  In addition to being holder of patents for a process for softening water, Brother Doremus held patents for a gas furnace, for producing hydrofluoric acid, and for extracting alumina from clay and for the extraction of potash from feldspar.

May 29, 1953

Whitney Shepardson (Mu-Colgate University) was appointed as the President of the National Committee for a Free Europe which operated “Radio Free Europe”, which was founded in 1949 to work for spreading American influence in Europe and opposing Soviet occupation and dictatorship.

May 30, 1847

The First Constitution of the Fraternity prepared by Cyprian George Webster, Phi’ 1846 is adopted. Initially, the naming of Chapter Officers was left to each Chapter.  In 1848, the advice given by the Theta-Bowdoin College Chapter was that the President would be Omega, the Vice President Omicron, the Secretary Iota, the Pledge Master Pi, and the Corresponding Secretary Delta. In the early years, an Orator was chosen at each meeting to serve at the next meeting and this resulted in multiple Greek letters being assigned to those who had had served in that capacity while at college. In the Constitution, it was stated that the duty of the “scriptor” was to keep a record book and record regularly official correspondence with the other chapters.

May 30, 1916

The Hayes Memorial Library and Museum to honor President Rutherford B. Hayes (Delta Chi-Cornell University) (Honorary) was dedicated at Spiegel Grove State Park, Fremont, Ohio.  The majority of the funds for the Center was funded through the Rutherford B. Hayes – Lucy Webb Hayes Foundation.  The Foundation was endowed by their son, Webb C. Hayes (Delta Chi-Cornell) in 1922 when he deeded the President’s Estate to the State of Ohio and the personal papers and possessions of the President to the Ohio Historical Society.  The dream of Brother Webb Hayes to establish a center to honor his father came to fruition in 1916 with the opening of what was then called the Hayes Memorial.  In 1922, Brother Hayes personally funded the addition to the structure and also endowed the Foundation to fund the operation of the facility.  The facility was further expanded in 1968 and, in 1981, the name was changed to The Hayes Presidential Center.  The entrance to the property is through the original gates from the White House.  The 31‑room mansion and former home of the President is also located on the grounds.

May 31, 1903

The Augustus St. Gauden statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman (Pi-Dartmouth College) (Honorary) was unveiled in the Central Park Plaza.  The unveiling took place in the presence of Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Teddy Roosevelt (Alpha-Harvard University), and Mr. and Mrs. Whitelaw Reid (Kappa-Miami University).  The statue serves as a centerpiece of the Grand Army Plaza of Central Park.  The inscription on the pedestal reads: “To General William Tecumseh Sherman, born Feb. 8, 1820, died Feb. 14, 1891.  Directed by citizens of New York under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York.

May 31, 1989

Alvin M. Ehret (Phi-Yale University) donated his collection of 28,000 LP recordings to Indiana University at Bloomington.  The collection consisted of mostly 33-1/3 RPM opera and vocal recordings, including many that were never made available in the United States. The collection included numerous performances by Caruso, countless versions of La Bohème, unique recordings from Eastern Europe, and a rare series of Metropolitan Opera broadcast concerts.  The collection also included thousands of recordings of Broadway musicals . Brother Ehret had collected the recordings over many decades.  Brother Ehret resided in Philadelphia and was a regular at the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Thursday night concert series. He was fond of Brahms and Beethoven but was quoted as saying Bruckner really “set his teeth on edge”.  Brother Ehret was the Chairman of the Board of the family insulation business.


May 31, 2012

The official portrait of George W. Bush (Phi-Yale University) was unveiled at a White House Ceremony.  Painted by Austin, Texas painter John Howard Sanden, the portrait shows Brother Bush with his hand resting on a chair back sporting a golden imperial laurel wreath, an ancient symbol of triumph.  Over his shoulder is one of his favorite paintings which is a scene of men galloping on horseback up a wilderness ridge.  The nickname for the painting is “A Charge to Keep”, which was also the title of Brother Bush’s 1999 campaign autobiography.  At the same time, the official portrait of former first lady, Laura Bush, was unveiled.