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Kappa Alpha Society
FoundedNovember 26, 1825; 196 years ago (1825-11-26)
Union College
Colors  Scarlet
SymbolKappa Alpha Key
Chapters15 (5 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 is considered to be the oldest national, secret, Greek-letter social fraternity and 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 2022, there are five 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. Active groups indicated in bold, inactive groups indicated by italics.[3]

No. Designation Installation Dates and Active Years Chapter Institution Location Status References
1. CC November 26, 18252003, 2011–present New York Alpha (CC) Union College Schenectady, New York Active
2. CG October 29, 18331983 Massachusetts Alpha (CG) Williams College[4] Williamstown, Massachusetts Dormant [4]
3. CH November 26, 18441854, 18792003, 2005–present New York Beta (CH) Hobart College Geneva, New York Active [3][5]
4. CNC October 21, 18521855, 19831998 New Jersey Alpha (CNC) Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey Dormant
5. VV January 8, 18571861 Virginia Alpha (VV) University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia Dormant
6. VC November 12, 18681990, 20072018 New York Gamma (VC) Cornell University Ithaca, New York Dormant [6]
7. VT February 19, 1892–present Ontario Alpha (VT) University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario Active
8. VL January 2, 18942018 Pennsylvania Alpha (VL) Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Dormant
9. VM April 21, 18991971, 19872006, 20122022 Quebec Alpha (VM) McGill University Montreal, Quebec Dormant
10. VP April 26, 1913–present Pennsylvania Beta (VP) University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Active [3][7]
11. VOO February 14, 1948–present Ontario Beta (VOO) University of Western Ontario London, Ontario Active [8]
12. VW March 18, 19671993, 19941997 Connecticut Alpha (VW) Wesleyan University Middletown, Connecticut Dormant [3][9]
13. VA November 5, 19882011 Alberta Alpha (VA) University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta Dormant
14. VAC November 23, 19911999 Alberta Beta (VAC) University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta Dormant
15. VD November 21, 20092022 Nova Scotia Alpha (VD) Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia Dormant


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

Main article: List of Kappa Alpha Society 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. ^ a b c d Some chapter information taken from William Raimond Baird; Carroll Lurding (eds.). "Almanac of Fraternities and Sororities (Baird's Manual Online Archive)". Student Life and Culture Archives. University of Illinois: University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 14 May 2021. The main archive URL is The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  4. ^ a b In 1968, the Williams College Trustees, with support of the faculty, voted to bar fraternity participation by students. Some chapters operated sub rosa for a time, but all have ceased.
  5. ^ New York Beta chapter originated with a local fraternity called Skin & Bones formed in 1842.
  6. ^ "Chapters". Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  7. ^ Pennsylvania Beta chapter originated with a local fraternity called the Terwood Society formed in 1909.
  8. ^ Ontario Beta chapter is unrecognized by its university, a common occurrence in Canada, where most chapters operate fully independently from their institutions.
  9. ^ Connecticut Alpha chapter originated with a local fraternity called Delta Sigma formed in 1952.