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Kappa Alpha Society
FoundedNovember 26, 1825; 198 years ago (1825-11-26)
Union College
Colors  Scarlet
SymbolKappa Alpha Key
Chapters15 (5 active)
HeadquartersPO Box 876
Ithaca, New York
United States

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.[1]

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.[2] As of 2022, there are five active chapters in the United States and Canada.[3]


In 1823, 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.[1] That group became the Kappa Alpha Society on November 26, 1825.[2][1] 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.[1]

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.[4]

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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[5][3] 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.

Chapter Letter Designation Chartered/Range Institution Location Status References
New York Alpha CC November 26, 18252003; 2011 Union College Schenectady, New York Active [a]
Massachusetts Alpha CG October 29, 18331983 Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts Inactive [b]
New York Beta CH November 26, 18441854; 18792003; 2005 Hobart College Geneva, New York Active [c]
New Jersey Alpha CNC October 21, 18521855; 19831998 Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey Inactive
Virginia Alpha VV January 8, 18571861 University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia Inactive
New York Gamma VC November 12, 18681990; 20072018 Cornell University Ithaca, New York Inactive
Ontario Alpha VT February 19, 1892 University of Toronto Toronto, Ontario Active
Pennsylvania Alpha VL January 2, 18942018 Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Inactive
Quebec Alpha VM April 21, 18991971; 19872006; 20122022 McGill University Montreal, Quebec Inactive
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, 19671993; 19941997 Wesleyan University Middletown, Connecticut Inactive [f]
Alberta Alpha VA November 5, 19882011 University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta Inactive
Alberta Beta VAC November 23, 19911999 University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta Inactive
Nova Scotia Alpha VD November 21, 20092022 Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia Inactive


  1. ^ The Union chapter was co-ed from 1991 until 2003.
  2. ^ In 1968, the Williams College Trustees, with the support of the faculty, voted to bar fraternity participation by students. Some chapters operated sub-rosa for a time, but all have ceased.
  3. ^ New York Beta chapter originated with a local fraternity called Skin & Bones formed in 1842.
  4. ^ Pennsylvania Beta chapter originated with a local fraternity called the Terwood Society formed in 1909.
  5. ^ Ontario Beta chapter is unrecognized by its university, a common occurrence in Canada, where most chapters operate fully independently from their institutions.
  6. ^ Connecticut Alpha chapter originated with a local fraternity called Delta Sigma formed in 1952. This local group was co-educational. The chapter was also co-ed at various times.

Notable members

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.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d 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.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ a b c d Baird, Baird, William Raimond; Lurding, Carol (eds.). "Almanac of Fraternities and Sororities". Student Life and Culture Archives. University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 14 May 2021. The main archive URL is The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  4. ^ Celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of Kappa alpha p 37
  5. ^ "Chapters of the Kappa Alpha Society". The Kappa Alpha Society. Retrieved 2020-05-04.