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Phi Kappa Psi Society records

Identifier: CA-MS-00098

Scope and Contents

The materials reflect the entire active life of Phi Kappa Psi, from its inception in 1892 to its amalgamation with Alpha Society in 1934 and beyond. The collection consists of copies of the society's constitution, song booklets, programs, letters, photographs of members and officers, publications, and record books of officers. The items highlight the evolution of a specific organization of students at Smith College through several generations of its members.

Dates of Materials

  • 1892 - 1939


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Smith College retains copyright of materials created as part of its business operations; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by Smith College, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

Phi Kappa Psi came into being in 1892 when five members of Alpha Society, Smith's first literary society, decided to form their own group. According to its constitution, Phi Kappa Psi's purpose was "1) to encourage and help maintain a high grade of scholarship, especially in literary lines, by its requirements for membership and by the literary character of its meetings, 2) by association to bring into more intimate and friendly relations girls who are congenial in aims and interests, and 3) by open meetings to contribute in a general way to the literary interests of Smith College."

Membership was based upon a young woman's scholarship, special talents, and her qualification as a "representative girl." Meetings were held monthly and included the singing of songs and the preparation and production of plays, in addition to the publication of a quarterly magazine. In 1934 Alpha Society and Phi Kappa Psi elected to combine as student interests shifted away from the arts. The new organization, Alpha-Phi Kappa Psi, allowed both societies to endure.

In 1938 Alpha-Phi Kappa Psi adopted a new constitution which limited its membership to thirty students who had distinguished themselves in one or more of the arts. This reflected the Society's ideological shift over the years from "an amusement society," as it was described by an 1883 member, to "an honorary [sic] society which recognizes outstanding creative achievement," as it was described in 1938. Activities of Alpha-Phi Kappa Psi were last recorded in 1968.


0.875 linear feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



Phi Kappa Psi was an early literary society founded in 1892 by five members of Alpha Society, the first literary society at Smith College. The collection consists of copies of the society's constitution, song booklets, programs, letters, photographs, publications, and record books.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source Unknown

Processing Information

Processed by Abby Schlessinger, 2001. Revised by Mark Umstot, 2016.

Processing Information

Please note that prior to 2018, folder inventories were not always updated when new material was added to the collection. As a result, folder inventories may not be complete and folder numbers may be incorrect.

Finding aid to the Phi Kappa Psi Society records
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Abby Schlessinger
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: manosca98 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2018-05-07: updated to current descriptive standards
  • 2018-11-09: added boxes

Repository Details

Part of the Smith College Archives Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063