Phi Beta Kappa Records, 1841 -- 1986


Title: Phi Beta Kappa Records
Dates: 1841 -- 1986
Bulk Dates: 1920 -- 1977
Creator: Miller, Russell E.
Call Number: UA025
Size: 8.7 Cubic Feet, 7 boxes
Language(s): English  
Permanent URL:
    Digital Collections and Archives, Tufts University


This collection document the activities of the Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) at Tufts University and consists of artifacts, the membership card catalog (up until 1978), and subject files. Significant topics in this collection include the recruitment and initiation of new Tufts University Phi Beta Kappa members.


This collection is organized in two series: Membership card catalog and Subject files.


Biographical / Historical

The Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), a national honorary society, was chartered on September 7, 1892, 1892 through the efforts of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, President of the United Chapters, Professor William R. Shipman, a member of the society at Middlebury College and the first librarian at Tufts, and Professor Frank Pierrepont Graves, a professor of classics while at Tufts and a member of the society at Columbia University - the year before the original chapter at the College of William and Mary was reactivated. The Tufts chapter was the fourth in the state to be established, and hence the designation "Delta." Nationally, women were first admitted to Phi Beta Kappa in 1875. Among the first cohort of women studying at Tufts, two were initiated into Phi Beta Kappa in 1896; there were a total of six initiates that year.

The PBK Executive Board of Delta Chapter at Tufts University elects students in the spring who show academic excellence in a wide array of disciplines, as well as intellectual commitment, originality and achievement in a particular area, and the quality of mind characteristic of a true scholar.

Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Use Restrictions

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see "Reproductions and Use" on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Copyright to all materials created by Tufts University employees in the course of their work is held by the Trustees of Tufts University.

Collection History

Processing Notes

This collection was originally created by Russell Miller in the process of preparing his history of Tufts University, Light on the Hill; original order of material was not maintained. As of fall 2010 the collection had been partially processed by students but never completed. In fall 2010, Lara Ullman, Simmons intern, reassessed and reprocessed parts of the collection and corrected the finding aid; supervisor Susanne Belovari, Archivist for Reference and Collections, DCA. As part of reprocessing, some duplicates were weeded. Student transcripts used to determine eligibility for PBK were left in the collection, first, because they indicate selection criteria, and second because some of these transcripts might currently be missing in the Office of Program Support records. If missing years of student transcripts in UA072 cannot be obtained, a cross-reference will point to UA025 records.

This collection is processed.

Custodial History

Many of the records in this collections were originally part of the Activities and Organizations collection compiled by Russell Miller.

Subjects and Genre Terms
  • Student life

Series Description

  1. Membership Card Catalogue, 1841 -- 1978

    Cards are arranged by a color code indicating member status (charter members, faculty members, ongoing membership, deceased). Handwritten reference card lists the following categories, however white cards were also used for male members.T he original color code was explained in an index card, filed in-front of the alphabetical run Series 1, Item 1.

    White cards: Regular card. Maiden name of women used in filing order if unmarried at time of initiation. Brown/Yellow cards: Married Name of Women. Blue: Faculty. Pink: Honorary.

  2. Subject Files, 1860 -- 1986

    This series contains include correspondence, student transcripts, meetings and minutes among other material. Historical records of Phi Beta Kappa were arranged chronologically at the beginning of the series, followed by an alphabetical run of subject files; ephemera included at the end.