Varsity Bachelor Club Records, 1904-1913, 1954, 1986
Primary Creator: Varsity Bachelor Club (1902-1913)
Other Creators: Phi Delta Theta (1913-)
Extent: 0.5 Linear Feet
Date Acquired: 03/00/1986. More info below under Accruals.
The Varsity Bachelor Club Records date from 1904-1986, and contain copies of both the original and revised version of the Constitution and By-laws, 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 contains 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.
The Varsity Bachelor Club 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.
Accruals: Additional material was donated by Dan Wakefield, Devils Lake, North Dakota, and Tim Shea, Grand Forks, North Dakota, in May 1989 (Acc.89-1656), while material was transferred from University Publications in January 2006.
Access Restrictions: Open for inspection under the rules and regulations of the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections.
Acquisition Source: Dan Wakefield, Devils Lake, North Dakota, and Tim Shea, Grand Forks, North Dakota
Acquisition Method: Donation; Acc.86-1439
Related Materials: Phi Delta Theta Fraternity Records: OGLMC 1014
Preferred Citation: (Description of Item). Varsity Bachelor Club Records. OGLMC 1052, Box #, Folder #. Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.
Finding Aid Revision History: Finding aid migrated to Archon in December 2014.
Browse by Box:
- Box 1
- Folder 1: Constitution and By-laws (original and revised)
- Folder 2: "History of the VBC," 1904 Dacotah (UND Yearbook)
- Folder 3: "Varsity Bachelor Club," by Gudmundur Grimson
- Folder 4: "The Varsity Bachelor Club: A Model of Activism in the Generation of Pioneers' Sons and Daughters," by Daniel V. Wakefield, 1986
- Folder 5: Meeting Minutes: 1904-1907
- Folder 6: Correspondence: 1908-1913
- Folder 7: Correspondence: 1954
- Folder 8: Financial Records: 1908-1910
- Folder 9: Petition to Phi Gamma Delta: 1909
- Folder 10: Petition to Phi Delta Theta: 1911-1913
- Folder 11: Publication, The Varsity Bachelor : June 1909
- Folder 12: Oral History Interview Audio Cassette Tapes