Chi Phi

The Chi Phi (ΧΦ) Fraternity is an American college social fraternity that was established as the result of three separate organizations that each were known as Chi Phi. All were joined together in 1874. The oldest active organization that took part in the union was refounded in 1854 at Princeton. Today, Chi Phi has over 43,000 living alumni members from over 90 active and inactive Chapters.

Early History

Chi Phi Society

On Christmas Eve, 1824, at the College of New Jersey, which would lately become Princeton University, a small group of faculty and students led by Robert Baird founded a secret fraternity called Chi Phi, dedicated to its members' spiritual life and personal holiness. In February 1825, they changed the name to the Philadelphian Society. The Society had exclusive membership requirements and very strict codes of behavior; students had to testify to a personal experience of conversion and be unanimously elected. The Philadelphian Society remained active through 1930.

The Princeton Order

Records of the original Chi Phi Society were discovered in 1854 by John Maclean, Jr. of the class of 1858. Maclean found the records in his uncle's paperwork, who happened to be president of the college at that time. Maclean joined with students Charles Smith DeGraw and Gustavus W. Mayer to form a new Chi Phi Fraternity that was based on some records of the original society but also with many characteristics that differed from the original society. While the Chi Phi Fraternity of today was actually founded in 1854, the members place great emphasis on the 1824 date because of many aspects that were carried over from the original records discovered in 1854. The names of the founders of the original society of 1824 were not even known to the 1854 founders; however, they were later discovered in 1914 by Professor V.L. Collins. The Chi Phi Fraternity founded by Maclean was also short-lived. The group existed sub rosa only until 1859 when it was abandoned completely. However, before the Princeton chapter died off, it was able to successfully establish a second chapter at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1854. The chapter at Franklin and Marshall in turn planted a chapter at Pennsylvania College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The Southern Order

The second Chi Phi Fraternity was founded at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on August 21, 1858 by five undergraduate students. Chi Phi Fraternity of the South was very successful and planted several chapters prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. All but the UNC chapter suspended operations as a result of the Civil War.

Secret Order of Chi Phi

On November 14, 1860, the third independent fraternity to be named Chi Phi was founded at Hobart College in Geneva, New York by twelve members of the class of 1862. The twelve men later became known through Chi Phi as the "Twelve Apostles". The fraternity was officially known as the "Secret Order of Chi Phi" and the first chapter would be called the Upsilon chapter. The Secret Order of Chi Phi at Hobart planted four additional chapters, and then in 1865, negotiations began regarding a merger with the Princeton Order. Negotiations were completed on May 29, 1867, and chapters from both groups united as the Secret Order of Chi Phi, also known as the Northern Order.

Merger of the North and South

Following the end of the Civil War, the Northern and Southern orders discovered each other through John Shepard of the North Carolina chapter of the Southern Order. The orders from the North and South began a negotiation that concluded with a meeting in Washington, DC on March 27, 1874 that resulted in a united organization officially known as the Chi Phi Fraternity. At the March meeting, three members from the Northern Order and three members from the Southern Order adopted a constitution and by-laws and established a date for the first convention, which was held in Washington, DC on July 23, 1874.

Growth and Development

Although Georgia Tech grads hate to admit they owe anything to Georgia grads (see Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate), Nathaniel E. Harris and Henry W. Grady, two Chi Phis from the University of Georgia, are widely credited with developing the public and legislative support that resulted in the formation of the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a result of his efforts, Nathaniel E. Harris was elected and served as the President of Georgia Tech's Board of Trustees from 1886 until his death in 1929.

Except for a brief period in 1911, three Chi Phis (Joseph Mackey Brown, John Marshall Slaton and Nathaniel E. Harris) held the office of Governor in the State of Georgia from 1909 to 1917. They didn't always see eye-to-eye, however; Brown was vehemently opposed to Slaton's pardon of Leo Frank in 1915 and since his death in 1932, Brown has often been implicated as a conspirator in Frank's lynching. During the same period, another Chi Phi, Hiram W. Johnson served as Governor of California and was later elected to five terms as a U.S. Senator.

Chi Phi's conservative expansion philosophy that only the old, well established schools were suitable for a Chapter, which was in effect for some sixty years (1892 to 1954), led to the denial of a petition for a charter by a group of students at the University of Richmond in 1901. This group, led by Chi Phi Brother Carter Ashton Jenkens, Delta '03, went on to found the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. During the subsequent fifty-three year period, Sigma Phi Epsilon chartered over 140 Chapters, while Chi Phi only chartered 14.

Stevie Ray Vaughan's music video for the song "When the House is a Rockin'" (Don't Bother Knockin') was filmed almost entirely at the Omega chapter house at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Active, Inactive and Dormant Chapters

Distinguished Alumni of Chi Phi (Appel et al. 1993)


Iron & Steel


Other Businesses

Chancellors & Presidents of Institutions of Higher Education

Engineering, Space and Technology

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State Governors & Lt. Governors

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American Bar Association

State Attorneys General

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College Football Hall of Fame

Other College Players

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Other Sports


  • Appel, Dr. Theodore B. et al. 1993 The Chronicles of Chi Phi, Chi Phi Educational Trust
  • Baird, William, ed 1915 Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities
  • Council of the Chi Phi Fraternity 1927 Biennial Catalogue of The Chi Phi Fraternity 1927, Lancaster Press, Inc.

See also

External links

  • - Kappa Delta Chapter Alumni Association
  • - Pi Delta Chapter Alumni Association

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