Fraternity and Sorority Accounts Ledger
Scope and Contents
Social fraternities have existed on American college and university campuses since the eighteenth century. The first Greek letter society was organized on the Northwestern campus in 1859, just four years after the first students arrived on campus. That early chapter of Phi Delta Theta disappeared with the coming of the Civil War, but with the organization of chapters of Phi Kappa Psi in 1864, Sigma Chi in 1869, Phi Kappa Sigma in 1872, and Beta Theta Pi in 1873, fraternities became an integral part of Northwestern campus life.
In 1869 Northwestern's Board of Trustees voted to institute coeducation at the University. With the merger of the Evanston College for Ladies and Northwestern in 1873 coeducation became a reality. In 1881 the first women's Greek letter society, or sorority, Alpha Phi, was founded. It was followed in 1882 by Delta Gamma and Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Both fraternities and sororities grew rapidly and by 1895 over thirty per cent of both male and female students belonged. Despite friction between Greeks and non-Greeks and between fraternities and the administration. the fraternities and sororities continued to flourish in the twentieth century.
The initial purpose of fraternities and sororities was to provide camaraderie among like-minded groups of students. By the twentieth century they provided social, intellectual, and residential community at their best, and snobbishness and bigotry at their worst. Fraternities and sororities at Northwestern coalesced in two areas on campus during the first third of the twentieth century. Fraternities constructed their chapter houses on the northern edge of campus along Lake Michigan, while a quadrangle of sorority houses was constructed on the southern part of the campus east of Sheridan Road.
The University encouraged the construction of fraternity and sorority houses by donating the building sites. Further, if the fraternity or sorority raised twenty five per cent of the cost of construction the University put up the remainder, with the indebtedness transferred to the chapter, at low interest, upon completion. This arrangement produced the salutary effects, from the University's point of view, of consolidating all Greek letter societies, providing student housing at reduced expense to the university, and establishing a certain measure of control over Greek activity.
This series consists of one volume of financial accounts of Northwestern University fraternities and sororities. Fraternities and sororities, while sanctioned by the University, are none the less autonomous fiscal units. The University donated the land for chapter houses and subsidized construction, but the individual chapters and their national affiliations were financially responsible for the houses. In addition, the University maintained accounts for fraternity and sorority operating expenses. This was done to facilitate central bookkeeping. Individual chapters, however, were responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their property, as well as for such expenses as utilities.
This volume contains accounts for twelve fraternities and sixteen sororities.
Individual sheets for each fraternity or sorority record the transactions of a single account. For example, there are accounts for the repayments against the principle owed the University for chapter house construction. There are separate interest accounts for any other indebtedness principle for renovations or alterations. There are separate accounts for each debt owed. Under operations are accounts for utilities and janitorial service, among others. Accounts for chapter social functions are not recorded in this ledger. Entries in each account are chronological and cover the period 1912 to 1938.
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Treasurer (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
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Language of Materials
This series consists of one volume of financial accounts of twelve fraternities and sixteen sororities at Northwestern University, for the period 1912 to 1938. Fraternities and sororities, while sanctioned by the University, are none the less autonomous fiscal units. The University donated the land for chapter houses and subsidized construction, but the individual chapters and their national affiliations were financially responsible for the houses. In addition, the University maintained accounts for fraternity and sorority operating expenses. This was done to facilitate central bookkeeping. Individual chapters, however, were responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their property, as well as for such expenses as utilities.
The volume is divided into fraternity and sorority sections and subdivided into Repayment, Interest, and Operations categories. Within these categories fraternity and sorority accounts are arranged alphabetically by chapter name.
Method of Acquisition
This volume was transferred to the University Archives on May 15, 1980 by Ed Dublin/Business Office as part of Accession #80-74.
Thomas Dorst, May, 1981.
- Guide to the Fraternity and Sorority Accounts Ledger
- Thomas Dorst
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US