Student Life: Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Zeta of Ohio Chapter Records, 1878-1998 | Oberlin College Archives
The records of the Zeta of Ohio Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa document the multiple administrative functions of the chapter, including electing new members, communicating with the United Chapters, and planning for the annual initiation banquets and Visiting Scholars Program. A small amount of material relates to the history of the United Chapters and its triennial meetings.
Records are arranged into twelve series:
I. Historical Files
II. Constitution and Bylaws
III. Annual Reports
IV. Minutes of Chapter Meetings
VI. Chronological Files
VII. Financial Records
VIII. Membership Records
IX. Student Eligibility Data Files *restricted
X. Files Relating to Secretarial Procedure
XI. Miscellany Relating to Initiation Banquets
XII. Files Relating to the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.
Within series, records are typically arranged either chronologically or alphabetically by topic or type of material.
Synopses of the history of the Zeta Chapter and United Chapters are located in Series I. Historical Files. They include a 1912 account by trustee William Cox Cochran entitled, "Zeta's Posthumous Membership," in which Cochran explains Oberlin's late establishment of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Also present are articles from the Alumni Magazine written by Charles N. Cole (December 1907) and Professor of French Kirk L. Cowdery (May 1932), which summarize the history of the chapter at Oberlin.
The minutes (1907-81) of the meetings of the Oberlin chapter, kept by the Secretary-Treasurer, are of considerable historical value. They are the most consecutive of the records present and contain the chapter Bylaws with annotations and emendations. Minutes housed in Series IV begin in October 1907 with the first organizational meetings and are complete through 1970. There are no minutes for the war years 1941-44, although banquet programs for those years indicate members were elected. According to recent practice, later minutes (1972-89) are interfiled in the chronological files housed in Series VI. The minutes provide an excellent source for tracing changes in student eligibility for membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Minutes also list elected members and note the appointment of speakers and other routine matters of business.
The correspondence (1909-27, 1955-81) and chronological files (1972-89) supplement the minutes by providing a detailed picture of the duties of the Secretary-Treasurer; however, a significant gap exists for the period 1928 to 1954. Correspondence (largely incoming) with the office of the United Chapters and with other local chapters mainly concerns the Visiting Scholars Program. Other topics covered include the election and decease of members, the nomination of new chapters, special Phi Beta Kappa celebrations such as the sesquicentennial (1926), chapter dues, and key orders. The chronological files, maintained separately from the correspondence, contain a variety of materials, including correspondence, news releases, and clippings, which relate to elections, speaker selection, and planning for the annual banquet.
Annual reports are not narrative accounts but forms filled out by chapter Secretaries and submitted to the United Chapters headquarters. These reports commence in 1944/45 and continue through 1979/80. There are no annual reports for the years 1951/52 through 1955/56 or for 1962/63. Forms provide the following information: officers of the chapter, numbers of new members elected, names of deceased members, married names of women members, recent address changes for other members, speakers who have addressed the chapter in the last year, and descriptions of special programs or projects undertaken.
The financial records of the Zeta Chapter summarize the financial transactions of the chapter from 1908 to 1987. They include passbooks (1908-85) and the annual reports of the Treasurer detailing receipts, disbursements, office expenses, and special expenditures such as the subscription to the Phi Beta Kappa Key. Series VII contains Treasurer's reports for 1956-60. Earlier reports are bound in with the minutes of meetings at which these reports were presented. Thus, Series IV, Minutes, 1907-81, includes the bulk of the Treasurer's reports. Additional reports are located in the chronological files of Series VI (1972-89). Other financial records, ephemeral in nature and of minimal research value, consist of invoices for keys and various supplies.
The balance of this record group consists of membership listings, including student internal transcripts (1985) and computer printouts (1985-88) of student data compiled by the Registrar; procedures to be followed by the chapter Secretary (1940-80); and miscellaneous materials relating to the initiation banquets, including programs and publicity (1949-88). Files concerning the United Chapters include official correspondence received by the local chapters (1947-62, 1965-66), the national constitution and Bylaws (1922-83); a selection of official publications, and proceedings of the triennial meetings held from 1950 to 1988.
Series I. Historical Files, 1907-32, 1957, n.d. (0.1 l.f.)
Unpublished essay (typescript draft), published magazine articles, and miscellaneous printed materials relating to the founding of the Oberlin College Chapter and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. Arranged by chapter, with the Oberlin chapter preceding the United Chapters.
Series II. Constitution and Bylaws, 1907-84, 1985 (0.05 l.f.)
Model constitution (photocopy) for local chapters, with local chapter Bylaws in the following formats: original typescripts, annotated carbon drafts, photostats, computer-generated copies and photocopies. Arranged chronologically. See also Series IV, Minutes, for Bylaws attached to minutes of chapter meetings.
Series III. Annual Reports, 1944/45-1980/81 (0.05 l.f.)
Incomplete run of annual report forms prepared by the Oberlin chapter with attached official correspondence from the United Chapters. Arranged chronologically.
Series IV. Minutes of Zeta of Ohio Chapter Meetings, 1907-81, 1992-98 (0.8 l.f.)
Miscellaneous, record books, bound and unbound, and carbon and miscellaneous drafts of minutes with correlative documents, including correspondence, memoranda, meeting agendas, treasurer's reports, charts, and lists of members and banquet speakers. Arranged chronologically.
Series V. Correspondence, 1909-27, 1955-81, 1994-98 (0.8 l.f.)
Incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Oberlin chapter Secretary with attached and related materials. Includes a set of postcards received (1910-14). Arranged chronologically.
Series VI. Chronological Files, 1972-85 (0.8 l.f.)
Contains material originally maintained in three-ring binders, including official correspondence of the Oberlin chapter Secretary, file copies of outgoing correspondence, memoranda, agendas, treasurer's reports, news releases, and newspaper clippings. Arranged chronologically.
Series VII. Financial Records, 1908-98 (0.4 l.f.)
Miscellaneous passbooks, treasurer's reports, invoices, and miscellaneous records of bills paid. Arranged alphabetically by type of material.
Series VIII. Membership Records, 1878-1939, 1953-79, 1983-89, 1994, 1998 (0.9 l.f.)
Miscellaneous record book (disbound), carbon, typescript, and printed lists of student and honorary members with attached correspondence and memoranda, 5 x 7 index cards showing faculty membership, and one oversize computer print-out of current members. Arranged in inexact chronological order.
Series IX. Student Eligibility Data Files, 1984-89, 1993-98 (0.8 l.f.) (RESTRICTED)
Files constitute a sampling of the original lot. Included are computer-generated listings of eligible students ranked by grade point average, internal transcripts, student data sheets, and Phi Beta Kappa certificate orders. Arranged chronologically. Access to this material is restricted.
Series X. Files Relating to Duties of the Chapter Secretary, 1940-80, 1992-95 (0.2 l.f.)
Miscellaneous, carbon, typescript, and mimeographed drafts of instructions and printed materials relating to procedures followed by the chapter Secretary. Arranged alphabetically by topic.
Series XI. Miscellany Relating to Initiation Banquets, 1918-29, 1936,1949-98 (0.2 l.f.)
Official correspondence and memoranda, drafts of speeches, invitations, and banquet programs. Arranged alphabetically by type of material.
Series XII. Files Relating to the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, 1922-85, 1988 (0.8 l.f.)
Printed constitutions and bylaws, official correspondence sent to local chapters, reports, data sheets on institutions applying for membership, periodicals, and conference proceedings. Arranged into three subseries by type of material: Subseries 1. Constitution and Bylaws; 2. Official Correspondence; and 3. Publications. Within subseries, material is arranged chronologically or alphabetically by title