It’s All Greek

Fraternity Ballot Box, Delta Kappa Epsilon, 1864

The college’s Archives and Special Collections include more than 82 linear feet of material documenting 13 of Williams’ 15 fraternities. Among the collection are typical items such as minute books, photo albums, pledge pins and paddles. But there are some unconventional pieces as well, such as this 150-year-old ballot box used by brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon to vote on prospective members. A single black ball placed in the box would end a student’s bid for membership. There’s also a key that James A. Garfield, Class of 1856, received as a member of the Anti-Secret Confederation (also known as the Equitable Fraternity), which eventually became Delta Upsilon. Membership in this social group, established at Williams in 1834 in opposition to the two secret societies operating on campus, was based on merit. Another item in the college’s collection is a portrait of Philip Spencer—founder of Chi Psi at Union College—that was donated to Williams’ chapter in 1934. According to former Chi Psi president Phil Wick ’56, who served for many years in the college’s admission office and then as director of financial aid, the painting was sometimes used for knife-throwing practice, as the large tear in it can attest.

Image credit: Fraternity ballot box, Delta Kappa Epsilon, 1864, Williams College Archives & Special Collections. Photo by Roman Iwasiwka.

Fraternity ballot box, Delta Kappa Epsilon

Read the Companion Article: Band of Brothers

I remember my classmate Myong-Ku Ahn ’63 as a pleasant guy, rather quiet. I didn’t know him well, but sophomore year we did share meals at the Alpha Delta Phi house, where several classmates and I had pledged that fall. Ahn, who was from South Korea, was assigned to the house as a “social member,” a way for foreign students to be affiliated with a fraternity.