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The foundation of this fraternity took place immediately after that of Sigma Phi at Union College, in 1827. Its membership has been largely drawn from the old Knickerbocker families of New York and New Jersey, and consequently its chief strongholds have been Columbia and Rutgers, at which places to-day its best chapters are situated.

The charter members of the Alpha Chapter, and presumably the founders, were Benj. Bourroughs, Wm. H. Foudey, S. L. Lamberson, S. C. Lawrison, Ron. David J.Little, Thomas C. McClangey, John Mason, Hon. Jos. J. Masters, and Wm. Wilson. All are now deceased except Mr. Lawrison. For eleven years no effort was made to extend the fraternity, until, in 1838, the Beta Chapter was established at Brown. In 1854 overtures were made to Phi Kappa Psi with a view to uniting the two fraternities, but the negotiations were without result.

The roll of chapters is:

  1. Alpha, Union College, 1827.
  2. Beta, Brown University, 1838 (died 1878).
  3. Gamma, New York University, 1841.
  4. Delta, Columbia College, 1842.
  5. Epsilon, Rutgers College, 1845.
  6. Zeta, Harvard University, 1845 (died 1848).
  7. Eta, Pennsylvania University, 1849 (died 1871).
  8. Theta, Princeton College, 1854 (died 1876).
  9. Iota, Michigan University, 1855 (died 1875).
  10. Kappa, North Carolina University, 1865 (died 1861).
  11. Lambda, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1864.
  12. Mu, Madison University, 1874 (died 1876).

The Alpha has long been in a waning condition, though heroic efforts have been made to infuse new life into it. Its membership has averaged from two to five for the last four years. The Beta declined like the Alpha, and its two senior members graduated in 1878. It will probably be soon revived. The Gamma is also in a poor condition. The Delta is one of the best in the fraternity, and usually has a large number of members. The Epsilon is flourishing, and the last catalogue was issued under its supervision. The Zeta shared the general fate of the Harvard societies, and died with only twenty members. The Eta was withdrawn during a period of depression. Theta existed in secret for more than twenty years, but finally succumbed. It will probably be revived sub rosa. The Kappa was killed by the war, and the Mu never fairly started.

The catalogue of the fraternity has been twice issued. The total number of members is now about 1700, among whom are Wm. H. Seward, Jr., Hon. Samuel S. Cox (Sunset Cox), Gen. A. B. Underwood, of Massachusetts; Dr. Howard Crosby, of the New York University; Dr. R. O. Doremus, the chemist; Bishop Wm. E. Armitage, of Wisconsin; Dr. Cornelius R. Agnew; Prof. Nason, of Troy; and John Wand and Jos. A. Harper, the publishers.

The badge is a Maltese cross, in the centre of which is a circular disk displaying the letters "ΔΦ." In the arms of the cross are seen respectively a scroll and quill, a lighted antique lamp, two clasped hands, and in the lower arm a constellation of stars. The colors are blue and white.