The Varsity Bachelor Club (VBC) was founded in 1902 by ten University of North Dakota students, led by William Lemke, describing themselves as "turned-down, heart-pierced young men." To gain attention on campus, the announced purpose was to retain the status of bachelorhood. In the organization's first publication, The Varsity Bachelor, the secretary's report of the first meeting was reprinted, including suggestions for the group's Constitution. The suggestions included that "the object" of the group was "to see that the members are married as soon as possible" and "to promote the matrimonial interests of the club." According to founding member Gudmundur Grimson, the original by-laws of the constitution provided that the "membership should be limited to ten, no vacancy shall be filled after April 1, 1902, and the Club shall die with the present members." These standards were abandoned before long, and a system of five degrees was established to rank members. The founding members also had the advancement of the University as a primary focus, and took that goal seriously. The VBC was the first fraternal organization to be endorsed by the University's administration.
The members of the VBC soon became prominent student leaders in both academics and extra-curricular activities. In 1905, the VBC established a scholarship to be awarded to the student with the greatest all around improvement; this was the first annual prize awarded at the University of North Dakota.
In 1907, members and alumni of the VBC obtained a "99-year lease" from the University to build a "clubhouse" on campus. In 1909, the North Dakota State Legislature approved a bill allowing the building to be constructed. The house was completed in 1910, and cost approximately $16,000. The VBC clubhouse was the first and only building constructed on University property by an extra-curricular organization. The VBC clubhouse was also the first and only house to be built and owned by a fraternity itself. The clubhouse was used by the army as a hospital during World War I, and is still in use today.
In June 1909, current members of the VBC began publishing The Varsity Bachelor, hoping to reinforce the principles of the VBC and to "bring bachelor brethren into closer touch with each other." The Varsity Bachelor continued to be published until 1912.
In 1912, with intentions of advancing the University and the state of North Dakota, and also to relieve some of the debt incurred by building the house, members and alumni began to campaign to join a national fraternity. In 1913, the VBC was granted a charter by Phi Delta Theta.
The Varsity Bachelor Club Records, 1904-1986, contain the original and revised versiond of their constitution and bylaws, as well as several histories of the club. Also included are meeting minutes, correspondence, and financial records. An unsuccessful 1909 petition for acceptance into Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and the successful petition for acceptance into Phi Delta Theta are included. The collection also has a copy of the first edition of the Varsity Bachelor and three oral history audio cassette tapes. Participants included Joe Baker, Alan Gray, Al Hackenburg, Art Robertson, and Fred Thomson.
Two unidentified photographs were separated and placed in the Photograph File Cabinets.