1.5 linear feet.
Catalog Number: 4.78
Agency History /
Membership criteria was based upon "unanimous vote of all members present" and recognized the "talents, acquirements, character, and disposition of the candidate." Unique to Bowdoin's chapter was the provision that "no undergraduate shall become a member of this society." This radical departure from other chapters' election rules was largely due to the existence of two other literary societies-- Peucilnian and Atheanaean--on campus prior to the establishment of the Alpha of Maine chapter. This restriction continued until 1897. Currently, the faculty nominates candidates to Phi Beta Kappa and the percentage of membership for any class is restricted.
A membership book is part of the collection and contains most of the member's signatures, including Henry W. Longfellow (1825). Two members whose signatures do not appear are Franklin Pierce (1824) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1825). Both were both elected in 1842 and neither had much interest in the fraternity.
For more information on the history of Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha of Maine chapter, see History of Phi Beta Kappa.
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