We all know that the colleges of America are rife with secrets, mysteries, and traditions, however, we are rarely privy to insider information on what exactly these are. That is part of the fun of it all, of course, as the speculation, conspiracy theories and spoofs become more and more ridiculous. There are some things we do know about some of these societies, however, and in some cases, the truth is stranger than fiction…
The Flat Hat Club, College of William & Mary
Thomas Jefferson is notable alumni of this group, which are thought to be the oldest known secret society in the USA, having been founded originally in 1750. Their initials FHC are said to actually stand for Fraternitas Humanitas Cognitioque which is Latin for Brotherhood, Humaneness, and Knowledge, something that ties into their ethos as they often donate sums of money to the college to help improve the lives of students.
Eucleian Society, New York University
Walter Reed was said to be alumni of this group that, unlike many other societies, has actually become more secretive as the years go on. Poet Edgar Allen Poe was a very regular guest, and the group often referred to themselves as The Raven Society as an homage to his most famous poem. In 2009, the society disrupted classes with beepers across campus and said ““Fellow Classmates, Truth is something you find outside of the classroom, outside of the walls of this university, and only from the professor in front of you insofar as he can serve as an experienced guide. We’re not here to preach. We’re here to simply say, NYU has its secrets too. This is your friendly wake-up call. Regards, The Eucleian Society”. Very mysterious!
Skull and Bones, Yale University
This is probably the most famous (or infamous) secret society of a college and is not exactly a well-kept secret. That said, no one outside of the society really knows what it’s all about, and what goes on in the windowless HQ ominously named “the Tomb.” Famous past members include George Bush Jr and Senior and John Kerry.
Seven Society, University of Virginia
The only way you will find out if someone was a member of this secret group is after they have died. Even then, it is not a simple naming, but a mysterious, 7-shaped wreath of black magnolias will be placed on the grave. Everything about this society is mysterious and secretive, and contact to the group can only be made via a note placed on the base of the Thomas Jefferson statue in the University Rotunda.
Quill and Dagger, Cornell University
Interestingly, this group was one of the first Ivy League societies to allow women to join. Always at the forefront of innovation, they embrace social media and even self-publish a book, available on Amazon, sharing the names and addresses of members – not so secret!
For all we know, as outsiders, there are a million more secret societies in colleges, or these groups themselves are harboring more mysteries. Sadly, it seems they’ll never tell!