Alpha Sigma Phi was founded at Yale University on December 6, 1845. Three young men: Louis Manigault, Horace Spangler Weiser, and Stephen Ormsby Rhea, all freshmen, met and laid down the basic principles of a society that today counts its membership in the thousands.
Since 1845, Alpha Sigma Phi has maintained a proud tradition of creating and perpetuating brotherhood for good men coast to coast. Dedicated alumni have long preserved and enriched the "Old Gal's" tradition with a vision for the future that exemplifies the experiences of the past. Through the years, many brothers have noted that Alpha Sigma Phi made a significant contribution early in their lives. With gratitude, these members have remained loyal and are supportive of the Fraternity's future.
Alpha Sigma Phi's existence has been threatened many times over the last 150 years. The fraternity still managed to pull through these hardships. Therefore, the official symbol of the fraternity is the Phoenix, the mythological bird that rises from its ashes.
For more information on our history, please visit our national website.
THE FRATERNITY'S HERITAGE
Yale in 1845 was far different from today’s college. It was hard going for any student. Discipline was swift and strict, handed out by both student and faculty alike. There was mandatory attendance at chapel everyday, and there was little to occupy a student’s attention aside from his academic work.
Yale was unlike most other American colleges in that it had been patterned after Cambridge University in England where class loyalties and traditions were extremely important. As a result, hazing and bullying by upperclassmen towards their younger classmates was common. Thus a fraternity system developed that was strongly focused around class ties.
As a man entered Yale as a freshman, he was encouraged to join one of the freshmen societies, Kappa Sigma Epsilon, Delta Kappa, or Sigma Delta. Freshmen would be met at the New Haven train station by sophomores, and invited to join one of the fraternities. Once the new members were secured, initiations would take place. Conducted by the outgoing sophomore class, the initiations into these societies were mainly to test the nerves of the freshman, and thus were quite vigorous. Once the night’s festivities concluded, the upperclassmen would hand over the society to the freshman and leave. The new members would then elect their officers and perfect the organization of the society for the upcoming year.
Membership in a secret society in each successive class became more important socially and in campus politics in each successive year. The freshman fraternities were nearly all encompassing. In the sophomore class, there were two fraternities at most, and at times only one. The sophomore fraternities admitted between twenty and thirty men from each class, and vied to admit only the most promising men based on their freshman records.
The junior class fraternities, Alpha Delta Phi, Psi Upsilon, and Delta Kappa Epsilon, pledged men secretly during the students first two years, and initiated them at the end of their sophomore year. In the 1850s, Psi Upsilon and Delta Kappa Epsilon eclipsed the older fraternity Alpha Delta Phi, and battled unrelentingly for the most promising pledges.
The senior societies were local organizations and were the most prestigious. The senior societies each pledged fifteen members from each class. There were usually three senior societies, with two competing heavily for the leading men of the class, and the third society failing and being replaced at intervals.
To learn more about the history of Alpha Sigma Phi, please visit our national website.