Phi Beta Kappa Society, Alpha of Illinois Chapter Records
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Scope and Contents
The series of records, 1887-1969, of the Alpha of Illinois chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, comprising fourteen boxes, includes eleven boxes of chapter records, one of national activities, one of materials pertaining to other chapters, and one of Phi Beta Kappa publications.
The collection of Alpha of Illinois chapter records contains an extremely comprehensive file of constitutions and by-laws, meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, and member listings. The constitutions and by-laws, 1889-1959, demonstrate rules changes in the national and chapter organizations.
Although the chapter usually held only annual meetings, the minutes, in bound volumes, also record occasional additional and executive meetings. The meetings were held to elect new members, but those present also discussed other matters, such as purchasing Syllabus space and determining standards for admission to Phi Beta Kappa. Establishing bylaws was one major subject at early meetings.
- Other: Majority of material found within 1900 - 1970
- Phi Beta Kappa. Alpha of Illinois (Northwestern University) (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.
Language of Materials
The series of records, 1887-1969, of the Alpha of Illinois chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, comprising fourteen boxes, includes eleven boxes of chapter records, one of national activities, one of materials pertaining to other chapters, and one of Phi Beta Kappa publications. The Alpha of Illinois chapter records contains an extremely comprehensive file of constitutions and by-laws, meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, and member listings. National activity materials include those from many national Triennial Council meetings which outline the growth of and changes in the society.
Box 3 contains the bulk of the correspondence, although other correspondence is scattered throughout the series. Five folders include the chapter's routine correspondence, exchanges between the Alpha of Illinois chapter and the national society, and financial correspondence. Although most of the correspondence merely outlines administrative procedures, the early exchanges, 1887-1895, illuminate much of the chapter's origins.
Three boxes of detailed financial records, 1901-1969, demonstrate the chapter's financial stability. Separated into chronological folders, the rather complete records often include balance sheets of income and expenditures, receipts, cancelled checks, bank statements, correspondence, and some member lists, as well as an audit report dated April 30, 1941. Most chapter income was from initiation fees; most expenses were for key purchases and dinner meetings.
Box 6 includes additional financial material: detailed ledger books, check books and check registers of the chapter's income and expenses; and correspondence and a redemption value statement pertaining to United States Savings Bonds owned by the Alpha of Illinois Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa to fund its Centennial Prize. The correspondence outlines the prize's development as a cash award to the College of Arts and Science's graduating senior with the highest scholastic average. The IRS file, 1951-1960, with correspondence, financial accounts, and federal income tax forms, completes the financial records.
Folders of member listings, arranged chronologically, 1911-1969, include lists of new undergraduate members, correspondence with them, occasional academic records of the students, and other information.
Box 9 contains compiled lists of all members of the Alpha of Illinois chapter from 1860 to 1939, and aggregate membership statistics, listed annually in the categories of undergraduates, alumni and honorary members. The key order forms also list new members. Box 10 contains mailing lists of Northwestern University professors who were Phi Beta Kappa members, as well as correspondence regarding the updating of the lists.
Box 11 contains records of chapter activities. Included are agenda for several meetings between 1895 and 1955; several annual letters, 1910-1928, announcing forthcoming meetings and events; annual chapter reports providing chapter and membership statistics; historical sketches of the chapter, and a chapter information book, 1910. The annual oration was an important event, and the collection includes a list of orators and their topics, 1891-1939, as well as copies of six orations and correspondence regarding the orators. Programs and sign-up lists comprise the annual banquet materials.
Reports of the chapter's committees on Revision of Eligibility Requirements and Undergraduate Elections detail the chapter's changing admission policies. Also among the Alpha of Illinois activity records are meeting minutes of the Chapter Council, a group of Northwestern professors who determined chapter policy; correspondence and printed materials regarding memorials to chapter members, including the Peter C. Lutkin memorial issue of the Northwestern University Bulletin (May 1, 1933); correspondence and forms related to the chapter's Centennial Prize; and materials pertaining to Phi Beta Kappa in the Syllabus.
Box 12 contains national activity materials including those from many national Triennial Council meetings which outline the growth of and changes in the society and provide information on the society's officers. One folder contains rather uninformative correspondence between officers of the Alpha of Illinois Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and its delegates to national meetings. The collection also includes Laws and Practices (1933), a compilation of rules from all Phi Beta Kappa chapters; a brief file of materials on the Vergilian Bimillennium, a program of speakers to encourage the "scholarly ideals and activities" of secondary school students; correspondence, member lists and printed materials from the Sesquicentennial Endowment fund-raising program; forms pertaining to the Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship, a scholarship for women to do post-graduate research in the fields of Greek or French history, language, or culture; correspondence and printed materials on the Phi Beta Kappa Associates, a group of not more than 200 members pledging personal and financial support of "the welfare of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and the ideals for which it stands;" materials from the Phi Beta Kappa Association of the Chicago Area, an organization of society members residing in or near Chicago; and finally the National Activities Miscellany folder contains reports from various meetings and such printed materials as "The Future of PBK" (1933), and "A Greeting to New Members of Phi Beta Kappa" (n.d.).
Box 13 deals with Phi Beta Kappa chapters other than Alpha of Illinois, One folder contains such items as booklets and announcements issued by other chapters, usually in celebration of the chapters' anniversaries. The collection also includes copies of orations given at other chapters and a folder of materials pertaining to the founding of new chapters. That folder contains reports from the Phi Beta Kappa national organization on standards for the creation of new chapters and evaluations of various colleges at which new chapters may open.
The publication collection, as appears on the Container List, also includes a Miscellaneous Publications folder with "A Manual for Chapter Secretaries" (1923, 1929), a booklet called, "Index to Phi Beta Kappa" (1934), providing a general background of the society; a history, "Phi Beta Kappa Souvenier" (1910); and a booklet of the society's history and purpose, "Noblesse Oblige" (1926).
The Miscellaneous folder in Box 14 includes a "Catalogue" of the Alpha of Illinois chapter (1894), listing members and officers, and articles from various publications including the Chicago Sun-Times (December 15, 1957); the N.U. Record (June 1893); the N.U. Alumni Journal (May 1919); and N.U. Information (April 26, 1948).
The University Archives holds the Charter of Incorporation for the Northwestern University chapter (Alpha of Illinois) of Phi Beta Kappa. The charter is dated September 5, 1889 and is signed by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, President, of Phi Beta Kappa, and by E.B. Parsons, the fraternity's Secretary. The charter is mounted on oversized cardboard and measures approximately eighteen inches by twenty-three inches. It is filed in Archives Room 110, Map Case, Drawer A.
Kevin Leonard June 15, 1981
Kenneth Crews 8-76
- Guide to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Alpha of Illinois Chapter Records
- Kenneth Crews
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository
Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US