MS-092: Phi Kappa Psi, Pennsylvania Epsilon Chapter

MS-092: Phi Kappa Psi, Pennsylvania Epsilon Chapter

Inclusive Dates: 1855-2005

Processed by: Howard A. Hamme

August 2007

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF


The Phi Kappa Psi papers were deposited with the Special Collections Library in July of 2007.

Agency History: 

The National Chapter was formed in 1852, by two gentlemen: Charles Page Thomas Moore and William H. Letterman.  The first chapter was at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, PA.  The Pennsylvania Epsilon chapter was founded December 26, 1855 by five members: Adam Hoy, J.S. Cutter, Henry Kuhns, George A. Long and Thomas W. Dosh.  This marks the seventh chapter for the fraternity and the first for Gettysburg College.  In 1885, Miller Hall was dedicated and still stands as the oldest fraternity chapter house in the United States

Scope and Content:  

The major parts of this collection are copies of the National Chapter publications, the Shield, and The Mystic Friend.  Also found is the local PA Epsilon publication, The Torch.  Also included are minutes from local chapter meetings dating back to 1855, minutes from the national meetings, known as the GAC.  There are registers, ledgers and roll call lists dating back to the founding of the chapter.  Some of these lists and registers have notes giving further information on the lives of members.  

Correspondence dates back to 1856, and covers a great deal of topics, including the building of the first chapter house and the newer Weiser Hall. 

National correspondence is also found in the collection.  Petitions from other potential chapters are also included.  Financial records are also found here, though they are not complete and cover various years.  There is a collection of photographs of members and also Miller Hall.  Some of the members are unidentified. 

In 1989, Weiser Hall suffered a damage flood which began their lawsuit against Gettysburg CollegeGettysburg College owned the land, PKP owned the house.  Included here is the correspondence between lawyers, college officials, alumni, insurance companies and contractors.  The case was eventually settled out of court.

Areas of interest in collection:

-Historical accounts of the founding

-Roll book with brief biographies of some members

-A fascinating collection containing national correspondence about Mass Alpha attempting to pledge Thomas Gibbs, an African-American student at Amherst.  Mass Alpha Chapter eventually lost its charter, and members of the chapter suspended for two years, being punished for its ‘un-fraternal behavior’.  Included in this file are NY Times editorials criticizing PKP for its discriminating practices.

-Photos of numerous members

-Also found in the chapter history is the necrology of the chapter with the story of young W.C. Koller, a college junior, who drowned in Spring Lake with a ‘Mr. Shindell’ on May 8th 1878.

Notable Alumni:

-John Schatzel Cutter- One of the founders of PA Epsilon.  Capt 176th New York Volunteers, killed in action 6/23/1863 near Brashear City, LA.  Cutter was the only officer that offered resistance at being ordered to surrender.  He was said to proclaim, ‘I know no such word!’ 

-Edgar Fahs Smith- He was first editor of The Shield (national publication). Later he became President of the University of Pennsylvania.

-George Stahley- Professor Emeritus, Gettysburg College

-J Duncan Campbell- co-writer of the Phi Kappa Psi Centennial History, a two-volume, inclusive history.  He wrote the first book. 

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF

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