The origin of the college fraternity dates back to December 5th, 1776, with the creation of Phi Beta Kappa. Originally a secret society, it later changed in the 1830's to become an honorary fraternity.
In the early 1820's, several other fraternities were created, all utilized Greek letters, displayed a badge, had a ritual and were secret societies. By the turn of the century, 40 national fraternities were in existence throughout the country.
Since 1900 the development of fraternities has been so rapid that the 20th century organizations outnumber those established previously.
World Wars I & II were a great strain on the fraternity system. Most college-aged men were fighting over seas and many chapters closed.
At the end of WWII, and largely because of the GI Bill, the "Golden Age" of fraternities started as a result of a large influx of men into college. Universities with 40 fraternities, each with 50-150 men were not uncommon.
The 60's and 70's were a tough period for fraternities, as the youth of those eras questioned the "establishment" - fraternities were seen as part of this "establishment".
Today, college fraternities have returned to their roots. They exist to provide a "home away from home", encourage high scholastic achievement, foster community spirit, and teach much-needed leadership skills.