Dartmouth College fraternities have played a large role in college fraternity history and inspired the movie whose poster almost every Dartmouth student has in his or her dorm room: Animal House. It is no surprise that Dartmouth fraternities are still very much alive today, but walking into a basement on “Frat Row” tells only a limited story.
At Rauner library, one can look into the fraternity life at
Dartmouth as far back to the 1840s when the first ones opened on campus. Almost
all of the fraternities have extensive records housed there with photographs of
the fraternities’ drama troops, the Delta Kappa Epsilon initiation books with
mysteriously burned edges, and what I found to be most interesting, the meeting
One fraternity that should
definitely be checked out is the Alpha Delta Phi—today known as Alpha Delta or
AD—meeting minutes. A fraternity that just recently got derecognized, it gives
people the chance to see the mischief the fraternity got into, how the brothers’
values changed with time, and how some traditions stayed the same. For
instance, in the early twentieth century, the brothers discussed the house
parties they would hold for Winter Carnival. Then when the U.S. entered World
War I, they rapidly turned their attention to Europe even discussing if
polygamy will be necessary in Germany after the war. But all the while, they
continued freshman recruiting rituals or what they called “chinning.”
As a freshman girl, I may have no
idea what goes on in the meetings Wednesday nights at fraternities, but now I
can know what the brothers did, what they cared about, and what they thought
about. It gives us an inside look not just into the minds of the people who
lived through large events like World War I and World War II, but into what
college boys thought at the time. In my opinion, it does not seem too different
than how they think today. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the records then
knock on a fraternity house door, a house that may have stood there since 1919.
To see the meeting minutes for Alpha Delta, ask at Rauner for the Alpha Delta Phi, Dartmouth College Records (DO-3).
Posted for Allison Gelman '18, HIST 62 class.