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Delta Upsilon (Swarthmore College Chapter) Records

Identifier: SFHL-RG6-Q014

Scope and Contents

Contains records of Delta Upsilon fraternity (Swarthmore College Chapter), the largest of the two remaining fraternities and the only currently surviving national Greek letter fraternity at Swarthmore College. Includes published and a small amount of manuscript materials, 1894-1991.

Organized into four series:

  1. Financial and minutes
  2. Directories
  3. Publications
  4. Miscellaneous


  • Creation: 1894-1991


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Biographical / Historical

Delta Upsilon, along with Phi Psi, is one of the two currently surviving Greek letter fraternities at Swarthmore College (2012). The Swarthmore Chapter of Delta Upsilon (DU) was established on March 3, 1894, with the initiation of 41 men, 14 of them recently graduated alumni. The event took place at the Manufacturers' Club of Philadelphia under the auspices of Judge Elijah B. Sherman, then president of the national fraternity.

The Swarthmore Chapter of Delta Upsilon evolved out of Pi Kappa Omicron, a local Swarthmore fraternity. Pi Kappa Omicron, in turn, began as a smaller campus organization, a senior men's society called Kappa Beta Sigma. Pi Kappa Omicron, desiring to become a chapter of a national fraternity, first petitioned Delta Upsilon for a charter in the fall of 1892 at the national convention. The initial request was denied because delegates felt that the installation of a Swarthmore chapter would not be in the best interest of the ambitiously expanding organization, given the College's small size. At the next annual convention, Swarthmore students petitioned a second time, this time with recommendations from College faculty. Their persistence impressed fraternity leaders, and the Chapter was approved for membership.

Delta Upsilon, the third national fraternity to establish a chapter at Swarthmore after Kappa Sigma (1888) and Phi Kappa Psi (1889), was founded at Williams College in 1834 as an alternative to the secret societies which played an important role on many college campuses at the time. The group was called the Anti-Secret Confederation for a time until the adoption of the Greek letters Delta Upsilon at the convention of 1864 at Middlebury. Recognized as the first Men's Non-Secret Fraternity, Delta Upsilon bases itself on four Enlightenment-inspired principles of "Promotion of Friendship, Development of Character, Diffusion of Liberal Culture and the Advancement of Justice." It distinguishes itself by its "No secret rituals. No secret oaths. No hazing." policy.

Prominent Swarthmore College Delta Upilon alumni include: Philip T Sharpless, 1910, chairman of the Chapter Lodge Building Committee and chief benefactor of Sharples dining hall; Thomas B. McCabe, 1915, president of Scott Paper, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and major donor for the College Library; H. Thomas Hallowell, 1929, president of Standard Pressed Steel Company and a donor for Hallowell residence hall; Alfred Hoyt Scott, 1895, president of the Scott Paper Co., in whose memory the Scott Arboretum was established; and Dr. Christian B. Anfinsen, 1937, winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry. Also among the alumni ranks of Swarthmore DU are a Rhodes Scholar, two leaders of the national (and later international) fraternity, a president of Cornell University, a US ambassador to Australia, a Major League baseball pitcher, a president of American League baseball, a Chairman of the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College, and the owner of the pub which inspired the television series Cheers.

The Swarthmore chapter of DU regularly published a magazine, Triangle, starting when it still used the name Pi Kappa Omicron. The Chapter hosted the 1908 national convention.

Throughout its history, DU has played an important part in the social scene at Swarthmore. However, with the phasing out of parietal rules in the late 1960s and early 1970s and a continuing debate over the contribution of Greek life to the Swarthmore community, the popularity of fraternities declined rapidly. At Swarthmore College, women's fraternities had been abolished in 1933, but male membership in Greek organizations plummeted from 52% in 1968 to 5% in 1972. The opening of Tarble Social Center in 1968 with its entertainment facilities and party spaces provided a free alternative to the social life provided by fraternities.

By 1980, only Delta Upsilon, Phi (Omicron) Psi (it resigned from the national organization of Phi Kappa Psi circa 1960 over the National's racial policies), and Phi Sigma Kappa survived the drought of fraternity pledges. While some students criticized the social policies and relevance of fraternities, many pointed out the contributions that DU made to Swarthmore social diversity as well as the fraternity's philanthropic actions.

In the early 1980s, the fraternity was placed on probation. It was reinstated in January 1985 and since then, continues to sponsor social and charitable events throughout the year. Currently, the Swarthmore DU chapter is affiliated with Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, a non-secret fraternity which currently boasts 84 active chapters in the United States and Canada. All students are welcome to participate in its social, recreational and service functions.


0.75 linear ft. (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



Contains records of Delta Upsilon fraternity (Swarthmore College Chapter). Includes published and a small amount of manuscript materials, 1894-1991.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

  1. Delta Upsilon. Swarthmore Chapter
  2. Mary S. Patterson
  3. Elsa Jenkins
  4. John M. Coles, 1997

Accession SCA 1997-006

Related Materials

RG 6/V, Swarthmore College Reference File: Fraternities and Sororities

Delta Upsilon: One Hundred Years, 1834-1934, in the FHL book collection

Separated Materials

Photographs stored with Swarthmore College Picture Collection, Student Activities, SPA 201

Oversized formal membership pictures stored in Picture Cabinet

Processing Information

Photographs were separated from the records and added to SPA 201/ Student Activities/ Fraternities. Formal group portraits, 1960-1998 with gaps (Accession SPA 2003-006), were removed from their frames and stored in oversize and the picture cupboard.

Acidic and crumbling newspapers in collection were photocopied on acid-free paper. Memorabilia belonging to William Coleson Coles, Jr., (Acc. SCA 97-006) was added to the collection in 2005, Series 4 Miscellaneous.


Finding aid for Delta Upsilon (Swarthmore College Chapter) Records, 1894-1991
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