Kappa Alpha Society

Kappa Alpha Order New York (state) Sigma Phi
Kappa Alpha Society
FoundedNovember 26, 1825; 194 years ago (1825-11-26)
Union College
Colors     Scarlet
SymbolKappa Alpha Key
Chapters15 (9 active)
HeadquartersPO Box 876
Ithaca, New York

The Kappa Alpha Society (ΚΑ), founded in 1825, was the progenitor of the modern fraternity system in North America. It was the first of the fraternities which would eventually become known as the Union Triad. While several fraternities claim to be the oldest, Baird's Manual states that ΚΑ has maintained a continuous existence since its foundation, making it the oldest undergraduate fraternity that exists today.[1] As of 2012, there are nine active chapters in the United States and Canada.


According to Baird's Manual, nine undergraduates at Union College in Schenectady, New YorkJohn Hart Hunter, John McGeoch, Isaac W. Jackson, Thomas Hun, Orlando Meads, James Proudfit, and Joseph Anthony Constant of the class of 1826, and Arthur Burtis and Joseph Law of the Class of 1827—established the Society on November 26, 1825 from an informal group calling itself The Philosophers, which was established by Hunter, Jackson, and Hun in 1823. The organization represents the middle link between secret societies, literary societies, and Greek-letter organizations like Phi Beta Kappa. In the words of founding member Arthur Burtis:

After we were domiciled in our upper chamber, in the fourth story of the south section---South College---northeast corner... we now and then beguiled the long winter evenings and entertained our friends with a few baked potatoes and salt and comforted them with apples. Jackson, Hun, Meads, Constant, and McGeoch were often the genial sharers of our simple meal, which was enlivened with mirth and wit and merry song.... It was determined to raise Hunter to an elevated seat on the woodpile, which stood in the corner of the room. When he was exalted to his high eminence, with his pipe in his mouth, he became the leader of this little band. Whereupon I suggested it would be right for us to get our light from this central luminary and that I would carry it to the others.... This band was now beginning to assume shape and form and comely order.

The first expansion of the Society took place in 1833 at Williams College at the request of fourteen students led by Azariah S. Clark of the class of 1834.

The Kappa Alpha Society, emulated by Sigma Phi (est. 1827) and Delta Phi (est. 1827), constitute the Union Triad, the pioneers of the North American system of social fraternities.[2]

This organization is not to be confused with the Kappa Alpha Order, a completely separate national fraternity.


Chapters are designated with an abbreviation of the institution's Latin name.

No. Dates Chapter Institution Location Status
1. Nov. 26, 1825–2003, 2011–present New York Alpha (CC) Union College Schenectady, New York Active
2. Oct. 29, 1833–1983 Massachusetts Alpha (CG) Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts Dormant
3. Nov. 26, 1844–1854, 1879–2003, 2005–present New York Beta (CH) Hobart College Geneva, New York Active
4. Oct. 21, 1852–1855, 1983–1998 New Jersey Alpha (CNC) Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey Dormant
5. Jan. 8, 1857–1861 Virginia Alpha (VV) University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia Dormant
6. Nov. 12, 1868–1990, 2007–2018 New York Gamma (VC) Cornell University Ithaca, New York Dormant[3]
7. Feb. 19, 1892–present Ontario Alpha (VT) University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario Active
8. Jan. 2, 1894–present Pennsylvania Alpha (VL) Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Active - Unrecognized by the University
9. Apr. 21, 1899–1971, 1987–2006, 2012–present Quebec Alpha (VM) McGill University Montreal, Quebec Active
10. Apr. 26, 1913 – present Pennsylvania Beta (VP) University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Active
11. Feb. 14, 1948–present Ontario Beta (VOO) University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Active - Unrecognized by the University
12. Mar. 18, 1967–1993, 1994–1997 Connecticut Alpha (VW) Wesleyan University Middletown, Connecticut Dormant
13. Nov. 5, 1988–2011 Alberta Alpha (VA) University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta Dormant
14. Nov. 23, 1991–1999 Alberta Beta (VAC) University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta Dormant
15. Nov. 21, 2009–present Nova Scotia Alpha (VD) Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia Active


The Union and Wesleyan chapters were co-educational (male and female members) in the recent past. The chapter at Wesleyan University, which existed from 1967 to about 1997, was at various times co-educational both as part of The Society and as a local starting in 1974. The Union Chapter was co-ed from 1991 until 2003. There are currently no co-educational chapters.

Contributing members

Notable members

Over the course of its nearly 200-year history, The Kappa Alpha Society has produced a substantial number of notable members in widely varied fields.

See also


  1. ^ Baird, William (1963) [1879]. Robson, John (ed.). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (Hardcover) (17th ed.). Menasha, Wisconsin: George Banta Company, Inc. p. 267.
  2. ^ Baird, William (1963) [1879]. Robson, John (ed.). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (Hardcover) (17th ed.). Menasha, Wisconsin: George Banta Company, Inc. p. 8.
  3. ^ "Chapters". Retrieved 2020-05-04.