Our Founding

There are two versions of the story about the founding of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, but both involve one man who wanted to create a lifetime of true brotherhood– Warren Albert Cole.

Version One

The first, resulting from an agreement in late 1912 between Warren Cole in Boston and Albert Cross in Philadelphia, holds that on November 2, 1909, Warren A. Cole, Percival C. Morse, and Clyde K. Nichols met at 22 Joy St., Boston, and swore allegiance to the new fraternity. The meeting had been called, by whom it is not recorded, for the purpose of considering the reorganization of the Cosmopolitan Law Club, a society of law students of Boston University, of which Cole was a member, into the Greek letter society.

Cole, Morse, and Nichols were all close friends, for all had been members of Alpha Mu Chi, a preparatory school fraternity. Cole was also a member of the legal fraternity, Gamma Eta Gamma, and the Grange or Patrons of Husbandry, a society of agriculturalists. The laws and rites of these societies are thought to have had a strong influence on Cole as he formulated the first regulations and Initiation Ritual of Lambda Chi Alpha.

The name Lambda Chi Alpha is thought to have been used from the beginning. The Greek letter name was not used in the Alpha Zeta minutes until April 27, 1910, however, and, as far as is known, this was the first time it was recorded.

Version Two

The second version of our founding results from interviews with Cole and other early members in later years, and further investigation. When Cole entered Boston University in the fall of 1909, his first residence lay too far from the law school on Beacon Hill, so he and a varied group of youngsters rented a room at Pemberton Square, which they used for study between classes or work. This loosely-held group became known as the Tombs or Cosmopolitan Club, but did not lead directly to the formation of Lambda Chi Alpha.

Before the end of 1909, Cole moved to 22 Joy St., where he shared an apartment with James C. McDonald and Charles W. Proctor, both of whom later joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Cole, however, was determined to start his own fraternity. In the fall of 1911, he moved to 35 Hancock St., rooming with Ralph S. Miles and Harold W. Bridge. On November 15, 1911, the constitution of the new fraternity, largely derived from Gamma Eta Gamma’s, was signed by Cole, Miles, Bridge, and Percival C. Morse – the four founders.

Over the next month, wonderful, yet mysterious, events of great significance occurred and a new fraternity was born with the appearance of our first badge and our first coat of arms, known as the Gamma Plate. Each of the four founders bought a badge. They issued themselves a charter for Alpha Zeta, back-dating it to November 15, 1911.

From this point on, Lambda Chi Alpha progressed at an incredibly rapid rate. Cole soon wrote the original Initiation Ritual, and within one year chapters at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), the University of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania State University were installed. Titles of national officers, such as Supreme Eminent Archon, were most likely borrowed from Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and the overall design of our first coat of arms may have been inspired by the seal of McDonald’s prep school, the Worcester Academy.

Fraternity Timeline

1750Flat Hat Club established at the College of William & Mary. (This is thought to have been the first American university fraternity.)
1776Phi Beta Kappa founded at William & Mary. (This was the first Greek-letter university fraternity and is, of course, the oldest honorary fraternity.)
1780Phi Beta Kappa installed its second chapter at Yale University.
1845First fraternity house occupied at the University of Michigan (Delta Kappa Epsilon).
1854First house built expressly for fraternity use was erected at Kenyon College. (This also was a log cabin.)
1864First modern fraternity house including dormitory living quarters built at Williams College.
1867I. C. Sorosis founded at Monmouth College. The society used the subtitle, Pi Beta Phi, in 1883, and in 1888, became known by this name alone. This was the first national sorority.
1870Kappa Alpha Theta, first national sorority to be founded with a Greek-letter name, established at DePauw University.
1893Interfraternity and Intersorority Congress at World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago.
1909First Interfraternity Conference meeting in New York City.
1917200,000 fraternity men served in World War I. 2,000 never returned.