History

Phi Beta Kappa was founded on December 5, 1776, at the College of William and Mary. Since then, Phi Beta Kappa has evolved to become the nation's leading advocate for the liberal arts and sciences at the undergraduate level.

Phi Beta Kappa elects over 15,000 new members a year from 262 chapters across the United States.

Phi Beta Kappa has over 50 associations - groups made up of Phi Beta Kappa members - in cities across the U.S. They support the ideals of the Society through academic, social, and community-based programs.

The Society's distinctive emblem, a golden key, is widely recognized as a symbol of academic achievement. The key is engraved on one side with the letters S P, the initials of rhe Latin words Societas Philosophiae and on the other with the Greek Letters of Phi Beta Kappa, meaning “Love of wisdom, the guide of life.” A pointing finger symbolizes the ambition of the members to attain the principles of friendship, morality and learning, which are represented by three stars.

The St. Lawrence chapter of the society celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1999. Its charter the 12th to be established in New York State but only the 50th nationwide was approved September 7, 1898, with Harvard University as its sponsor. The first meeting was held in June 1899. Over the years, many of St. Lawrence’s most famous names were elected as either student or alumni members of Phi Beta Kappa, including Owen D. Young, Emily Eaton Hepburn, Richard Sykes, John Murray Atwood, Edwin Lee Hulett, Millard Jencks, Charles Kelsey Gaines, Joseph J. Romoda, Rutherford “Doc” Delmage, and Daniel F. Sullivan.

...with appreciation to the national Phi Beta Kappa headquarters for historical information.