Phi Delta Theta Fraternity at UND grew out of the membership of the Varsity Bachelor Club, a group first organized in 1902 by "ten turn-downed, heart-pierced young men," according to an anonymously-written history included in this collection. Their purpose was "the promotion of the spirit of fellowship and brotherhood among its members and the advancement and upbuilding of the University of North Dakota." Early members participated in varsity athletics, oratory and debate, and student publication boards. The organization's original colors were pink and green.
In 1908, the VBC leased a square of land on the University grounds and erected a chapter house to serve as the site for membership residence and meetings. The following year the VBC prepared a proposal for incorporation into Phi Gamma Delta national fraternity. By February 1911 news of interest from Phi Delta Theta began appearing in the Palladium, Phi Delt's national publication, regarding a petition for incorporation. Forty-seven VBC undergraduates and desiring alumni were initiated into Phi Delta Theta on April 17 and 18, 1913. It was the second fraternity to appear at the University of North Dakota. Its chapter designation is North Dakota Alpha.
The members of Phi Delta Theta fraternity have been actively involved in university life. Members have participated in and held leadership roles in many campus organizations, including varsity athletics. During the 1950s and 60s, the Phi Delt chapter was known as the most athletic on campus; they won the men's all-campus intramural championship for 18 consecutive years leading up to 1970 according to the Dacotah annual of that year. Traditional social events included the annual Barn Dance, the Half and Half, and Formals. The chapter also engaged in scholastic and philanthropic activities. In 1977, Phi Delt broke ground on their new chapter house at 601 Princeton Street. Their former house on the English Coulee is now Gustafson Hall.
Among the notable alumni of the North Dakota Alpha chapter are three Representatives to U.S. Congress, including the first "Grand Bachelor," William F. Lemke, class of 1903; J.F.T. O'Connor, 1907, U.S. Comptroller of Currency; Sveinbjorn Johnson, 1906, Judge of North Dakota Supreme Court; Ragnvald A. Nestos, 1904, North Dakota Governor; Melvin A. Brannnon, faculty inductee of 1913, President of the Universities of Idaho and Montana; Howard Huston, 1915, Chief of Staff, League of Nations; Edward K. Thompson, 1927, Managing Editor, New York Times; Dr. Keith Grimson, 1930, discoverer of Banthene, a drug to relieve peptic ulcers; and Bob H. Peters, 1960, Commissioner, College Hockey America Conference.
Phi Delta Theta was first established at Miami (Ohio) University in 1848. Currently, it has more than 165 chapters in 43 states and six Canadian provinces. There are nearly 100 alumni clubs across the U.S. and Canada. Its international headquarters are in Oxford, Ohio. Its colors are argent and azure and its official flower is the white carnation.
This collection contains historical information on the founding of Varsity Bachelor Club (VBC) and Phi Delta Theta, roll call books from 1913 to 1946, a treasurer's book and minutes (incomplete). Also included are two scrapbooks and four folders of photographs.
Among the historical information is an origin report of the VBC and its lease for the property granted by UND. Other materials include a laminated edition of Volume 1, Edition 1 of The Varsity Bachelor newsletter (June 1909) and eight photocopied articles from the Palladium and Scroll, national Phi Delt publications, dating from February 1911 to 1915. Also included are: a list of financially delinquent members (ca. 1931), a flow chart of the fraternity's chain of command, a proposed constitution for UND's Interfraternity Council, the first issue of The Phi Reminder chapter alumni newsletter (June 1949), a photocopied program and photos for the ceremonial groundbreaking of May 27, 1977, and a Grand Forks Herald article from May 29, 1977 on UND Alumni Days, which features S.F. Pinkham, Phi Delt alumnus from the class of 1914.
Correspondence consists of five letters sent or received by the fraternity. Of special interest is a letter from Phi Delt alumnus Howard Huston, who would go on to serve as Chief of Staff for the League of Nations. The correspondence dates from 1908 to 1977. Petitions to Phi Gamma Delta (1909) and Phi Delta Theta (1911 [draft] and 1912) on behalf of the VBC are included, as are reprints of the VBC and Phi Delt pages from Dacotah annuals, 1904-1970.
Three roll books list the names and biographical entries for the first 504 initiates into the fraternity. The books cover those initiated April 17, 1913 through October 13, 1946. The Treasurer's Book itemizes incoming and outgoing funds and details of financial transactions from August 5, 1907 to November 21, 1952. Finally, there are two volumes of chapter minutes, which date October 5, 1926-June 5, 1932; January 29-August 9, 1961; and September 10, 1965-December 15, 1969.
A large scrapbook contains many newspaper clippings, photographs, correspondence and other Phi Delt memorabilia dating from 1909 to 1933. The second scrapbook is the personal book of Harold Boe and contains photographs of campus, activities and fraternity members in the early 1920s.
Thirty-seven photographs were separated and placed in the Photograph File Cabinets.