Guide to the Phi Beta Kappa (Washington State University) Records 1925-1980
Cage 446

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Phi Beta Kappa (Gamma Chapter, Washington State University)
Phi Beta Kappa (Washington State University) Records
Cage 446
Date [inclusive]
6000.0 items.
General Physical Description note
3.5 linear feet of shelf space.
Correspondence, minutes, committee files, treasurer's reports and other papers of the scholastic honorary chartered at Washington State University in 1928.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 446, Phi Beta Kappa (Washington State University) Records. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Phi Beta Kappa began with a small gathering of students on December 5, 1776, at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The aims of the then secret society were to promote friendship, morality, and learning among the students. Five of these original members decided on the design for the Phi Beta Kappa medal (or key) which has been retained to this day. In 1778 members opened the way to election of nonstudents to the Society, i.e. graduates and others known as alumni and honorary members. The "secret" side of the Society came to an end in 1831 when the Phi Beta Kappa branch at Harvard declared that this policy was unsuitable and abolished it.

The attempt to establish a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Washington State University (then State College of Washington) was begun on March 12, 1925, when the school was visited by the National Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, Dr. Oscar M. Voorhees. Faculty members Fermen L. Pickett, Frederich D. Heald, and Olaf P. Jenkins arranged for a meeting between Voorhees and all local Phi Beta Kappa members. It was then that a goal for establishment of an official chapter by 1928 was set. The charter was granted by the National Council meeting at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, in September of 1928. The formal dedication of the Gamma Chapter of Washington State was held on April 6, 1929, and was presided over by Voorhees. The first officers elected were: President, Alfred A. Cleveland; Vice-President, Fermen L. Pickett; Secretary, Helen M. Richardson; and Treasurer, Mrs. William C. Kruegel. These four, plus Thomas M. Raysor and J. Horace Nunemaker, made up the original Executive Committee.

Since that time, Phi Beta Kappa has grown along with Washington State University and continues to promote academic achievement on campus.

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Arrangement note

The Phi Beta Kappa records have been arranged in three series: Correspondence, 1925-1977, Alphabetical Subject File, 1926-1980, and Member Cards, 1929-1976.

The first series, Correspondence, 1925-1977, contains both in-coming and out-going correspondence from members, officers, and others associated with Phi Beta Kappa at both the local (WSU Gamma Chapter) and national organization level. Included in the correspondence are letters from alumni, members and initiates concerning arrangements for initiation, election to membership, acceptances, and orders for certificates and keys. The Correspondence series is arranged in a single alphabetical/subject series; the subseries "General, 1925-1975" of 34 folders comprises the vast majority of the series and approximately one third of the total records of the WSU Phi Beta Kappa Chapter. Correspondence for the period 1928-1929 (folder 45) also contains minutes of the general meetings; additional correspondence may also be found in the Alphabetical Subject File folders 89-93, entitled "Minutes, Correspondence and Reports, 1961-1975." This division of minutes and correspondence reflects the original order of the records.

The Alphabetical Subject File, 1926-1980, the second series, consists of various materials used in the operation of the local Phi Beta Kappa chapter and its dealings with the national organization. Included in this series are such things as: address changes; committee work; annual reports; constitution and by-laws; delegate's manuals; directories; initiates, membership, and committee lists; minutes; and visiting scholar program materials. Committee work includes material from both Alumni and Scholarship Committees. The Alumni Committee material consists of lists of alumni being considered for membership; Scholarship Committee material includes financial statements, procedural and expense information. Annual reports were made to the National Phi Beta Kappa listing officers, members (new, alumni, honorary), deaths and total membership. Annual treasurer's reports are also in the records. Minutes are primarily of executive committee meetings with some general chapter meetings included. The visiting Scholar Program is sponsored by the National Phi Beta Kappa which annually selects a group of approximately ten scholars for a lecture circuit. Local chapters of Phi Beta Kappa may then select a particular lecturer and find that person to speak on campus. The Alphabetical Subject File, 1926-1980, is arranged in a single alphabetical subject series covering the period from 1926 through 1980, with the bulk of the material in the 1950s through the late 1970s.

The third series, Member Cards, 1929-1976, consists of cards for each member of the local organization and includes such information as member's name, major and minor areas of study, permanent address, date of graduation, and class at time of joining Phi Beta Kappa.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1981
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The Phi Beta Kappa Records (MS 79-51) were donated to the Washington State University Archives in October of 1979 through Dr. Frank Kottke, secretary.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Phi Beta Kappa. Gamma of Washington State--Archives


  • Colleges and Universities
  • Greek letter societies--Washington (State)--Pullman--Archives
  • Learned institutions and societies--Washington (State)--Pullman--Records and correspondence
  • Universities and colleges--Washington (State)--Pullman--Archives
  • Washington (State)

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Collection Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence 1925-1977 

Box Folder

Alumni and Members 1929   100

1 1

Application for the Phi Beta Kappa Charter 1926-1929   160

1 2-3

Candidates and Initiates 1929-1941   130

1 4-5

General 1925-1975   1648

1 6-39

Initiates 1929   13

1 40

Members 1975-1977   14

1 41

Members in Course 1929-1940   56

1 42-44

Minutes 1928-1929   46

1 45

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Series 2: Alphabetical Subject File 1926-1980 

Box Folder

Address Changes 1960-1961   170

2 46-47

Addresses 1957-1961   3

2 48

Alumni Committee 1931-1955   22

2 49

Annual Banquet 1959-1975   60

2 50

Annual Reports 1955-1976   28

2 51

Application for Phi Beta Kappa Charter 1927-1928   21

2 52-53

Certificate of Membership undated   1

2 54

Chapter History 1960-1961   4

2 55

Chapter Roll 1926-1961   100

2 56

Constitution and By-laws 1935-1972   50

2 57

Delegate's Manuals 1937-1952   4

2 58

Directory 1941   1

2 59

Eligibility Rules 1931-1980   130

2 60-62

General Files 1939-1976   38

2 63-66

Honorary Members 1929-1946   10

2 67


Box Folder

Arranged by High Schools 1929-1941   50

2 68

Orders 1967-1975   68

2 69-70


Box Folder

 1976   7

2 71

Forms 1966-1970   11

2 72

Materials 1966-1973   24

2 73

Materials and Instructions 1936   4

2 74
Box Folder

Invitations and Acceptances 1950-1953   115

2 75-77

The Key (Institution of Gamma Chapter of Washington) 1930   1

3 78

Laws and Practices 1933   1

3 79

Ledgers (Treasurers) 1927-1978   2

3 80

Lists of Officers and Committee Members 1929-1979   10

3 81

Mailing Lists 1929-1939   20

3 82


Box Folder

Lists 1947-1965   11

3 83

Reports 1950-1955   11

3 84
Box Folder

Minutes 1926-1957   150

3 85-88

Minutes, Correspondence, and Reports 1961-1975   227

3 89-93

National Phi Beta Kappa: 

Box Folder

Bicentennial Fellowship 1970   2

3 94

Materials 1937-1976   57

3 95-96
Box Folder

Nominations for Officers 1968-1973   4

3 97

Potter Essay Contest 1964-1970 

3 98

Preparation for Constitution and By-laws 1928-1929   17

3 99

Ritual 1928   1

3 100

Scholarship Committee 1969-1978   30

3 101

Secretary's Calendar 1934   1

3 102

Senate Nominations 1958-1967   19

3 103

Uninitiated Alumni and Honorary Members 1934-1940   19

3 104

United Chapter Publications 1959-1973   6

3 105

Visiting Scholars 1960-1978   264

3 106-121

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Series 3: Member Cards 1929-1976 


Member Cards 1929-1976   2000


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