|Kappa Alpha Society|
|Founded||November 26, 1825|
|Symbol||Kappa Alpha Key|
|Chapters||15 (5 active)|
|Headquarters||PO 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 that pioneered the North American system of social fraternities.
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. As of 2022, there are five active chapters in the United States and Canada.
In 1923, John Hart Hunter, Isaac W. Jackson, and Thomas Hun, who were students at Union College in Schenectady, New York, established an informal group called The Philosophers. That group became the Kappa Alpha Society on November 26, 1825. Its founders were Joseph Anthony Constant, John Hart Hunter, Isaac W. Jackson, Thomas Hun, John McGeoch, Orlando Meads, and James Proudfit of the class of 1826, and Arthur Burtis and Joseph Law of the class of 1827.
The Kappa Alpha Society 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.
KA expanded to Williams College in 1833, with fourteen pledges led by Azariah S. Clark of the class of 1834. Other chapters were established in the 19th century at Hobart College, Princeton College, the University of Virginia, Cornell University, the University of Toronto, Lehigh University, and McGill University. Chapters were established at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Western Ontario, Wesleyan University, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and Dalhousie University in the 20th century. The Union and Wesleyan chapters were co-educational (male and female members) in the recent past. There are currently no co-educational chapters.
Following is a list of the active and inactive chapters of the Kappa Alpha Society. Active groups indicated in bold, inactive groups indicated by italics. Chapters are designated with an abbreviation of the institution's Latin name. This organization is not to be confused with the Kappa Alpha Order, a completely separate national fraternity.
|New York Alpha||CC||November 26, 1825 – 2003; 2011||Union College||Schenectady, New York||Active||[a]|
|Massachusetts Alpha||CG||October 29, 1833 – 1983||Williams College||Williamstown, Massachusetts||Dormant||[b]|
|New York Beta||CH||November 26, 1844 – 1854; 1879–2003; 2005||Hobart College||Geneva, New York||Active||[c]|
|New Jersey Alpha||CNC||October 21, 1852 – 1855; 1983–1998||Princeton University||Princeton, New Jersey||Dormant|
|Virginia Alpha||VV||January 8, 1857 – 1861||University of Virginia||Charlottesville, Virginia||Dormant|
|New York Gamma||VC||November 12, 1868 – 1990; 2007–2018||Cornell University||Ithaca, New York||Dormant|
|Ontario Alpha||VT||February 19, 1892||University of Toronto||Toronto, Ontario||Active|
|Pennsylvania Alpha||VL||January 2, 1894 – 2018||Lehigh University||Bethlehem, Pennsylvania||Dormant|
|Quebec Alpha||VM||April 21, 1899 – 1971; 1987–2006; 2012–2022||McGill University||Montreal, Quebec||Dormant|
|Pennsylvania Beta||VP||April 26, 1913||University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Active||[d]|
|Ontario Beta||VOO||February 14, 1948||University of Western Ontario||London, Ontario||Active||[e]|
|Connecticut Alpha||VW||March 18, 1967 – 1993; 1994–1997||Wesleyan University||Middletown, Connecticut||Dormant||[f]|
|Alberta Alpha||VA||November 5, 1988 – 2011||University of Alberta||Edmonton, Alberta||Dormant|
|Alberta Beta||VAC||November 23, 1991 – 1999||University of Calgary||Calgary, Alberta||Dormant|
|Nova Scotia Alpha||VD||November 21, 2009 – 2022||Dalhousie University||Halifax, Nova Scotia||Dormant|
Main article: List of Kappa Alpha Society members
The Kappa Alpha Society has produced a substantial number of notable members in widely varied fields throughout its nearly 200-year history.