Phi Kappa
The crest of Phi Kappa.png
FoundedOctober 1, 1889; 132 years ago (1889-10-01)
Brown University
AffiliationNIC (former)
EmphasisCatholic students
ScopeNational (US)
MottoLoyalty to God and College
Member badge
The badge of Phi Kappa.jpg
Colors  Purple,   White and   Gold
FlowerOphelia Rose
   later, The Temple
Chapters40 installed
Merged, to createPhi Kappa Theta (1959)

Phi Kappa (ΦΚ) was a social fraternity founded on October 1, 1889 by a group of Catholic students at Brown University who were refused entrance to other fraternities because of their faith. On April 29, 1959, Phi Kappa merged with a similar fraternity Theta Kappa Phi to form Phi Kappa Theta.


Phi Kappa's origin came as a local society at Brown University called Phi Kappa Sigma, meaning Fraternity of Catholic Students.[1] The Founders were:[2]

  • Dennis J. Holland
  • Joseph Mary Killelea
  • Edward S. Kiley
  • James M. Gillrain
  • Edward DeV. O'Connor
  • James E. Smith
  • Arthur F. McGinn
  • James E. Brennan
  • Edward F. Cunningham
  • John J. Fitzgerald
  • Thomas P Corcoran
  • Joseph Kirwen
  • William H. Magill

The Founders did not have in mind the establishment of a full-fledged fraternity, but merely sought to establish a club for Catholic students. However, they soon realized the existence of a much older society with the same name, so in 1900 the name was changed to Phi Kappa. Even though Phi Kappa had its birth in 1889, it celebrated Founders Day as April 29, 1902, the same day as its incorporation under the laws of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. From the beginning the organization emphasized loyalty to alma mater and remained a home for Catholic students who were otherwise unable to join other fraternities.[1]

Expansion was sought out at large schools, and not specifically Catholic institutions. Its Beta chapter was placed at the University of Illinois in 1912 with the adoption of the local Loyola Club. This was soon followed by Gamma chapter at Penn State in 1913. Many of its chapters came from absorption of earlier local groups or Catholic clubs.[3]

Phi Kappa joined the NIC in 1916.

Phi Kappa went on to form 40 chapters prior to its merger with Theta Kappa Phi on April 29, 1959, at which time the two Catholic-affinity fraternities formed Phi Kappa Theta.[1]

At the time of the merger it was found that, despite the size of both organizations, there were only five schools where both fraternities existed: Illinois, Penn State, Ohio State, Missouri and Wisconsin. 32 chapters were active at the time of the merger.[3]

Symbols and traditions

The Fraternity's original magazine was first published in 1916. It was called the Yippa-Yappa, after the nickname of the brotherhood during its early days at Brown.

The badge was square, situated in diamond fashion (called a quatrefoil), with amethysts at each corner. The sides were finished with pearls. The Greek letter Κ, etched, was in the center, superimposed by the Greek letter Φ, in plain (Roman) finish.

The colors were Purple, White, and Gold.

The Fraternity flower was the "Ophelia Rose".[1]


The chapters of Phi Theta in 1959. Active chapters at the time of the merger noted in bold, inactive chapters at the merger noted in italics. Information from Baird's 20th ed., unless otherwise noted.[1]

Chapter Institution Location Dates of activity Notes References
Alpha Brown University Providence, Rhode Island October 1, 18891930 Granted post-merger name as Rhode Island Alpha chapter of ΦΚΘ
Beta University of Illinois Urbana, Illinois May 27, 1912 Merged with ΘΚΦ chapter; now the Illinois Beta Delta chapter of ΦΚΘ [4]
Gamma Pennsylvania State University University Park, Pennsylvania November 7, 1913 Merged with ΘΚΦ chapter; now the Pennsylvania Beta Gamma chapter of ΦΚΘ [5]
Delta University of Iowa Iowa City, Iowa March 14, 19141932, 1947 Became Iowa Alpha chapter of ΦΚΘ [6]
Epsilon University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas October 2, 1915 Became Kansas Epsilon chapter of ΦΚΘ [7]
Zeta Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana February 11, 1918 Became Indiana Zeta chapter of ΦΚΘ [8]
Eta Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts January 1, 1919 Became Massachusetts Eta chapter of ΦΚΘ [9]
Theta Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio March 28, 1920 Merged with ΘΚΦ chapter; now the Ohio Gamma Theta chapter of ΦΚΘ [10]
Iota Kansas State University Manhattan, Kansas April 9, 1921 Became Kansas Iota chapter of ΦΚΘ [11]
Kappa University of Missouri Columbia, Missouri July 7, 19221935, 1948 Merged with ΘΚΦ chapter; now the Missouri Kappa Upsilon chapter of ΦΚΘ [12]
Lambda University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison, Wisconsin January 7, 1922 Merged with ΘΚΦ colony, now the Wisconsin Lambda chapter of ΦΚΘ [13][14]
Mu University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania May 20, 1922 Became Pennsylvania Mu chapter of ΦΚΘ [15]
Nu University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan February 15, 19241935 Became Michigan Nu chapter of ΦΚΘ [16]
Xi Iowa State University Ames, Iowa February 15, 1924 Became Iowa Xi chapter of ΦΚΘ [17]
Omicron University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio January 31, 1925 Became Ohio Omicron chapter of ΦΚΘ [18][3]
Pi University of Nebraska–Lincoln Lincoln, Nebraska February 14, 19251934 Became Nebraska Pi chapter of ΦΚΘ [19]
Rho Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania February 11, 1925 Became Pennsylvania Rho chapter of ΦΚΘ [20]
Sigma Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, New York May 23, 1925 Became New York Sigma chapter of ΦΚΘ [21]
Tau Syracuse University Syracuse, New York June 13, 19251935 Became New York Tau chapter of ΦΚΘ [22]
Upsilon University of Maine Orono, Maine 19261935 Became Maine Upsilon chapter of ΦΚΘ [23]
Phi University of Denver Denver, Colorado February 5, 19271933, 1949 Became Colorado Phi chapter of ΦΚΘ [24]
Chi Bucknell University Lewisburg, Pennsylvania February 9, 19291933 Became Pennsylvania Chi chapter of ΦΚΘ [25]
Psi Ohio University Athens, Ohio January 19, 1929 Became Ohio Psi chapter of ΦΚΘ [26]
Omega Catholic University of America Washington, D.C. February 1, 1930 Became District of Columbia Omega chapter of ΦΚΘ [27]
Alpha Alpha Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana October 14, 1939 Became Indiana Alpha Alpha chapter of ΦΚΘ [28]
Alpha Beta Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio May 31, 1941 Became Ohio Alpha Beta chapter of ΦΚΘ [29]
Alpha Gamma colony Trine University Angola, Indiana 1943–194x Named, but never installed
A later chapter of ΦΚΘ was installed in 1966, called Indiana Alpha Gamma chapter
Alpha Delta Washington State University Pullman, Washington December 1, 1946 Became Washington Alpha Delta chapter of ΦΚΘ [31]
Alpha Epsilon University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota November 23, 1947 Became Minnesota Alpha Epsilon chapter of ΦΚΘ [32]
Alpha Zeta University of Wyoming Laramie, Wyoming October 21, 1950 Became Wyoming Alpha Zeta chapter of ΦΚΘ [33]
Alpha Eta Manhattan College Riverdale, Bronx, New York November 25, 1950 Became New York Alpha Eta chapter of ΦΚΘ [34]
Alpha Theta Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon 1951 Became Oregon Alpha Theta chapter of ΦΚΘ [35]
Alpha Iota University of Arizona Tucson, Arizona May 6, 1951 Became Arizona Alpha Iota chapter of ΦΚΘ [36]
Alpha Kappa Butler University Indianapolis, Indiana May 17, 1953 Became Indiana Alpha Kappa chapter of ΦΚΘ [37]
Alpha Lambda Spring Hill College Mobile, Alabama April 17, 1955 Became Alabama Alpha Lambda chapter of ΦΚΘ [38]
Alpha Mu University of Houston Houston, Texas February 18, 1956 Became Texas Alpha Mu chapter of ΦΚΘ [39]
Alpha Nu Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, California April 8, 1956 Became California Alpha Nu chapter of ΦΚΘ [40]
Alpha Xi Duquesne University Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania November 24, 1957 Became Pennsylvania Alpha Xi chapter of ΦΚΘ [41][3]
Alpha Omicron Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, Arizona 1958 Became Arizona Alpha Omicron chapter of ΦΚΘ [42][3]
Alpha Pi University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas April 5, 1959 Became Texas Alpha Pi chapter of ΦΚΘ [43][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Anson, Jack L.; Marchenasi, Robert F., eds. (1991) [1879]. Baird's Manual of American Fraternities (20th ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Baird's Manual Foundation, Inc. p. VIII-15-16. ISBN 978-0963715906.
  2. ^ Phi Kappa Theta's History notes nine founders, but Baird's goes on to note four more. Baird's list is shown here. Three of these men are the first initiates, Magill, Fitzgerald and Corcoran, with the addition of Kirwen.
  3. ^ a b c d e f William Raimond Baird; Carroll Lurding (eds.). "Almanac of Fraternities and Sororities (Baird's Manual Online Archive), page showing inactive men's groups". Student Life and Culture Archives. University of Illinois: University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 18 November 2021. The main archive URL is The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  4. ^ This chapter originated as the Loyola Club (local) in 1909.
  5. ^ This chapter originated as Sigma Phi Delta (local) in 1913.
  6. ^ This chapter originated as the Loyola Club (local).
  7. ^ This chapter originated as the Columbus Club Knights (local) in 1908.
  8. ^ This chapter originated as the Newman House Club (local) in 1913.
  9. ^ This chapter originated as Alpha Epsilon (local) in 1918.
  10. ^ This chapter originated as the Newman Club (local) in 1909.
  11. ^ This chapter originated as Phi Gamma (local) in 1919.
  12. ^ This chapter originated as the Mercier Club (local) prior to 1922.
  13. ^ This chapter originated as the Loyola Club (local) in 1920.
  14. ^ Due to the long tenure of the ΦΚ chapter, a 2-yr old colony of ΘΚΦ at Wisconsin was absorbed without a name change at the merger.
  15. ^ This chapter originated as Psi Delta Chi (local) in 1921.
  16. ^ This chapter originated as the Richard Club (local) in 1922.
  17. ^ This chapter originated as the "Amican Club" (local) in 1920.
  18. ^ This chapter originated as Pi Alpha Chi (local) in 1923.
  19. ^ This chapter originated as Nu Alpha (local) before 1925.
  20. ^ This chapter originated as Kappa Epsilon (local) in 1923.
  21. ^ This chapter originated as Delta Delta (local) in 1923.
  22. ^ This chapter originated as Phi Iota Chi (local) in 1921.
  23. ^ Baird's Archive explains this chapter originated as Phi Kappa Theta (local?) in 1923. Name similarity to eventual merger name is unexplained.
  24. ^ This chapter originated as Kappa Phi Delta (local) in 1925.
  25. ^ This chapter originated as Kappa Gamma (local) in 1924.
  26. ^ This chapter originated as Rho Mu Phi (local) in 1928.
  27. ^ This chapter originated as the "Dod Noon Club" (local) in 1921. (Baird's archive citation)
  28. ^ This chapter originated as the Torch and Skull Club (local) in 1937.
  29. ^ This chapter originated as Theta Psi Kappa (local) in 1932.
  30. ^ Regarding the Trine (Tri-State) chapter, there was a Catholic club on that campus beginning in 1929. This became a local, ΑΓΩ in 1940, and is listed as the predecessor to the existing ΦΚΘ chapter. However, it may be that this group of Catholic students signed up as a colony with ΦΚ in 1943, a colony that was named but (apparently) never installed as a chapter. Alternatively, that effort may have simply incorporated another set of Catholic students. It's a moot point today, as Phi Kappa and Theta Kappa Phi would merge in 1959 to form Phi Kappa Theta, with a chapter placed on campus in 1966 - chapter records may have further information.
  31. ^ This chapter originated as Chi Nu Chi (local) in 1940.
  32. ^ This chapter originated as a Phi Kappa colony in 1947.
  33. ^ This chapter originated as Phi Kappa colony in 1949.
  34. ^ This chapter originated as Gamma Sigma (local) prior to 1950.
  35. ^ This chapter originated as a Phi Kappa colony in 1950.
  36. ^ This chapter originated as Phi Kappa Kappa (local) in 1950.
  37. ^ This chapter originated as Phi Kappa Beta (local) in 1950.
  38. ^ This chapter originated as Sigma Alpha Kappa (local) in 1943.
  39. ^ This chapter originated as Phi Kappa Alpha (local) in 1952.
  40. ^ This chapter originated as Phi Delta Chi (local) before 1956.
  41. ^ This chapter originated as Kappa Sigma Phi (local) in 1924.
  42. ^ This chapter originated as a Phi Kappa colony in 1957.
  43. ^ This chapter originated as the Catholic Club (local) in 1956.