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Guide to the Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Phi Chapter (Duke University) records, 1976-1985


This collection contains materials of the Alpha Phi chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity at Duke University from 1976 to 1985. The Alpha Phi chapter was established at Duke University in 1901 and remained active until 1970. In 1978, it was reactivated. Types of materials include correspondence, chapter evaluations, pledge rosters, scrapbooks, and printed materials pertaining to the Alpha Phi chapter from 1976 to 1985. Major subjects include student life at Duke University, re-establishment of a fraternity, accounting, initiation, community service activities, social activities, general governance, leadership, and public relations.

Collection Details

Record Group
Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Phi Chapter (Duke University) records
Kappa Alpha Order. Alpha Phi Chapter (Duke University)
1.5 Linear Feet, 1500 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

Collection contains correspondence, scrapbooks, bound volumes, and printed material relating to the Alpha Phi chapter of the Kappa Alpha fraternity at Duke University from 1976 to 1985.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Some items are in off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.

In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

warning Use & Permissions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Phi Chapter (Duke University) Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

General correspondence, 1976-1984
Box 1
Pledge roster, 1978
Box 1
Reinstatement documents, 1978
Box 1
Kappa Alpha Order, Bulletins, 1979
Box 1
Alpha Phi chapter evaluation, 1981-1982
Box 1
Alpha Phi chapter evaluation, 1983-1984
Box 1
Alpha Phi chapter evaluation, 1984-1985
Box 1
Scrapbook, Spring 1979-Spring 1982
Box 2
Scrapbook, Fall 1979-Spring 1980
Box 2
Scrapbook, Fall 1980-Spring 1981
Box 3
Group Portrait, 1903 (identified)
Oversize-folder 1

Historical Note


In the early 1860s, James Ward Wood of West Virginia had the first ideas for the fraternal organization that came to be known as Kappa Alpha Order. His family was sympathetic to the Confederate cause and in he joined a local cavalry regiment to fight with the Confederacy in the Civil War. In 1861, at age 15, he accidentally discharged a pistol, severely wounding his foot. While recuperating, he spent time reading about freemasonry, one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world.

In fall 1861, Wood carried his interests of fraternal brotherhood to Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. Once enrolled, he investigated the fraternities that existed on campus at the time. Not pleased, he simply decided that he would form his own secret organization and wrote a small set of rituals borrowed from other fraternities. On December 21, 1865, he met with others and bound their friendship by a mutual pledge of faith and loyalty, forming Phi Kappa Chi fraternity. The other fraternities looked scornfully upon the appearance of a new secret society on campus, and members of Phi Kappa Psi were especially perturbed at Wood's use of the name Phi Kappa Chi, because it was so similar to their own. Consequently, Wood was asked by a Phi Kappa Psi member to change the name, to which he obliged. The organization reemerged as the K.A. fraternity. At that time, the letters did not stand for Kappa Alpha. It is believed that Wood used the letters "K.A." (of the then popular fraternity Kuklos Adelphon) to attract members and attention. By the end of the spring 1866, the four founders had initiated seven additional members.

One new initiate was Samuel Zenas Ammen, a Master Mason. As a member if Kappa Alpha, he developed a new ritual, constitution, bylaws, grip and symbols for the fraternity. His commitment ultimately earned him the title of Practical Founder of Kappa Alpha Order. The new ritual transformed the K.A. fraternity into Kappa Alpha Order, an order of Christian knights pledged to the highest ideals of character and achievement. Thus, they emulated their college's president, Robert E. Lee.

Kappa Alpha began the 1867-1868 school year with Ammen as the new leader. During the year, the order began to look toward neighboring schools to establish more chapters in the south. By the close of 1870, five years after Kappa Alpha's founding, the Order's ranks had grown to eight chapters.

The Alpha Phi chapter at Duke University was founded in 1901. The group was active on campus until dissolution in 1970. With the support of the Interfraternity Council, the Kappa Alpha Order national office, and many alumni, the chapter was reactivated in October 1978 with 26 men. In 1983, Alpha Phi chapter moved to Brown House on East Campus. Alpha Phi's low damages, strong campus involvement, and absence of noise violations helped them earn 50% more space in Brown House for the 1984-1985 year. Since their reactivation, they have competed in intramural sports, raised funds for various community groups, and raised funds for Duke University. The Alpha Phi chapter is currently (2008) active on the Duke campus. They are governed by the Interfraternity Council.

Related Material

  • Photograph Collection.(University Archives, Duke University)
  • Fraternities and Sororities collection.(University Archives, Duke University)
  • Interfraternity Council Records.(University Archives, Duke University)
  • Panhellenic Council Records.(University Archives, Duke University)
  • Fraternity Life at Duke, 1947-1975 [serial].(University Archives, Duke University)
  • Final Report. Office of Student Affairs. Task Force on Greek Life. 1994.(University Archives, Duke University)

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Phi Chapter (Duke University) Records were received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1984.

Processing Information

Processed by Emily Glenn , December, 2002

Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, January 2008

Accessions 84-74, 84-86 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.