Association of College Honor Societies


Historical Information

Maurice L. Moore, 1983


Dr. Robert W. Bishop and Mr. Robert H. Nagel have given excellent presentations to this Council on the general historical background, philosophy, and activities of the A.C.H.S. Today, I want to focus on the events, dates, and personalities that are involved in our founding and early days and recognize those leaders who seem to have been most responsible for our accomplishments and progress during the first twenty-five years.

For a number of years before 1925, leaders of college fraternities in the United States were concerned about the growing proliferation of so-called "honor" societies on college campuses. Some of these organizations maintained chapter houses and claimed an increasing amount of time, interest, and money of their members, usually upperclassmen who had been selected for membership. A report was made to the 15th annual National Interfraternity Conference by a committee which had carefully studied the situation during the preceding year. It recommended that representatives of all professional, honorary, and honorary-professional fraternities be invited to meet in a conference in November 1924 and that the National Interfraternity Conference define what should constitute (a) an honorary fraternity, (b) a professional fraternity, and (c) an honorary-professiona1 fraternity. Evidently this report elicited no definite action. However, officers of some of the older honor societies were still concerned about the rapid increase in the number of so-called honor societies and the duplication of their activities.


According to the minutes of the spring meeting of the Executive Committee of Sigma Xi, the science honor society, held in the Engineering Societies Building, New York City, May 2 and 3, 1925 (SIGMA XI QUARTERLY, June 1925, pp. 47 & 52), Dr. Wm. W. Root, secretary-treasurer, Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical honor society, who was present by invitation on May 2nd, suggested that a conference of delegates from honorary fraternities might result in advantage to all. The Executive Committee voted to cooperate with honorary societies in arranging for a conference and to attend such conference. The committee had as guests during luncheon, the Rev. Oscar M. Voorhees, D.D., secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, and Dr. Root. Dr. Voorhees was asked by Dean Edward Ellery, the secretary of Sigma Xi, what he thought of Dr. Root's suggestion. He replied that he "believed that the need for such a conference was pressing but declined to take any positive steps until authority had been sought from his National Council."

The subject was brought to the attention of the 15th triennial session of the Phi Beta Kappa National Council at the Hotel Astor, New York, September 8, 1925, at which time the officers of the United Chapters were authorized to represent the fraternity in any conferences that should be planned. This action was reported to the officers of other leading Honor Societies, and a preliminary conference was held at the Pennsylvania Hotel, New York, on October 2, 1925. Four societies were represented: Alpha Omega Alpha, by its president, Walter I. Bierring, M.D., Des Moines, Iowa, and its secretary-treasurer , William W. Root, M.D., Slaterville, N.Y.; Order of the Coif, by its secretary, Prof. Walter W. Cook, Yale University; Phi Beta Kappa, by its secretary, Oscar M. Voorhees, D.D.; Sigma Xi, by its secretary, Dean Edward Ellery, Ph.D., Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. The officers of Phi Kappa Phi and Gamma Sigma Delta (Agriculture) affirmed their interest but could not be represented. Mr. James T. Brown, Beta Theta Pi, Cornell '76, editor of Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities, 10th Edition, 1923, was also present by special invitation.

The subject was carefully considered and it was decided to hold a general conference the last week in 1925 at Kansas City, Mo., in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and to limit invitations to this initial conference to Honor Societies of fifteen year's standing that had chapters in fifteen or more important colleges and universities. Dr. Voorhees was requested to handle the correspondence and complete the arrangements. (THE PHI BETA KAPPA KEY, October 1925, p. 52).

Under the date of December 7th, Dr. Voorhees mailed to 22 organizations an announcement of a meeting for one o'clock, Wednesday, December 30th, in the Athletic Club Building of the Chamber of Commerce of Kansas City. Dr. Francis W. Shepardson, Chicago, vice-president of Phi Beta Kappa, was to represent that organization in the absence of Dr. Voorhees, who was in attendance at the Phi Beta Kappa Senate meeting in New York. Dr. Voorhees had also written to over one hundred college executives inquiring about societies that had found a place on their campus, and the replies were placed in the hands of Dr. Shepardson.

In accordance with the above, the meeting was held at the time and place as scheduled. Seventeen men were present, representing eighteen organizations. Among those present were: Drs. Bierring and Root, Alpha Omega Alpha; Prof. Louis H. Pammel, Ames, Iowa, president, and Dr. Charles H. Gordon, University of Tennessee, secretary, Phi Kappa Phi; Dr. Shepardson, Phi Beta Kappa; Dr. Floyd K. Richtmyer, Cornell, past president, and Dr. Forest R. Moulton, University of Chicago, president, Sigma Xi; and Prof. A. D. Moore, University of Michigan, president, Tau Beta Pi. Gamma Sigma Delta (Agriculture) was represented by Prof. T. J. Talbert, U. of Missouri, and the Order of the Coif was not represented. (Eta Kappa Nu - Electrical Engineering; Sigma Tau - Engineering; and Delta Sigma Rho - Forensics, current A.C.H.S. members were represented).

A lunch was served and a most interesting and enjoyable conference lasted well towards six o'clock. Dr. Shepardson was chosen by those present as temporary chairman and Dr. Root, temporary secretary, and a permanent organization was effected with Dr. Shepardson as president and Dr. Root as secretary-treasurer, with an executive committee of six members, three of whom should be Drs. Shepardson, Voorhees, and Root, they to choose the three others. This they did, after conference and correspondence, completing the committee for the first year by adding Prof. Richtmyer, Sigma Xi; Prof. Moore, Tau Beta Pi; and Prof. H. B. Ward, of Illinois, for many years the notably efficient secretary of Sigma Xi.

A Committee on Constitution, consisting of Drs. Bierring, Richtmyer, and Root, was appointed and one on Plans and Scope, consisting of Dr. Gordon, Prof. A. D. Moore, and Stanley B. Houck, Delta Sigma Rho. The Committee on Plans and Scope recommended that a classification of Honor Societies be left to the Executive Committee with power, and that such committee should select the organizations to be invited to attend the next conference. The Committee on Constitution prepared and reported a tentative code for the "Honor Societies Conference" comprising a constitution and bylaws, with the understanding that it would serve the purposes of the organization during the first year. (Dr. Shepardson prepared an excellent report on this conference titled "Conference on Honor Societies," with a list of those in attendance and the societies which they represented, along with some of the background mentioned above.

This report, in Phi Beta Kappa's archives, of which we have a copy, served as the basis for an article in BANTA'S CREEK EXCHANGE, January 1926, pp. 16-17. Also, copies of a report by Prof. Moore, in THE BENT of Tau Beta Pi, January 1926, pp. 4-5, and of Dr. Root in the BIENNIAL REPORT of Alpha Omega Alpha, Dallas, Texas, April 21, 1926, have been obtained).

In Prof. Moore's report of the Kansas City meeting, he states "During the past several years, Dr. Wm. W. Root, secretary of Alpha Omega Alpha, the honor medical society, has been trying to assemble representatives of the well-known honor societies in some kind of conference. His efforts have only lately given promise of 'success'."

The next session was held in Williamsburg, Va., November 26 and 27, 1926. in connection with the sesquicentennial celebration of the founding of Phi Beta Kappa and in the new memorial building presented to the College of William and Mary by that organization. A sub-committee convened in Monroe Hall of the College, Friday evening, November 26, at which time Drs. Ward, Cook, and Root discussed informally certain recommendations of Dr. Root. At 3 p.m. on the 27th, in the new Phi Beta Kappa Hall there were present Drs. Shepardson and Voorhees of Phi Beta Kappa, Prof. Moore of Tau Beta Pi, Dr. Ward of Sigma Xi, with Dean Ellery absent on an official survey of an institution for Sigma Xi, Prof. Cook of the Order of the Coif, and Dr. Root of Alpha Omega Alpha, all but Dr. Richtmyer being present of the Executive Committee appointed at the Kansas City meeting, December 30, 1925. Those present approved a resolution to limit the charter members of the organization to the following six societies: (1) Phi Beta Kappa represented by Dr. Voorhees, secretary; (2) Tau Beta Pi by Prof. Moore, president; (3) Sigma Xi by Dean Ellery, secretary, (4) Phi Kappa Phi by Dr. Gordon, secretary; (5) Alpha Omega Alpha by Dr. Root, secretary-treasurer; and (6) Order of the Coif by Prof. Cook president, with a Council comprising the above six representatives and three members-at-large elected by the societies' representatives. The new organization was named the Association of College Honor Societies with responsibility lodged in the Council. Provision was made for the admission of other organizations with proper qualifications, for initiation fees, for annual dues of $50, and for needed equipment of the office of Secretary. The Committee on Constitution, appointed at the Kansas City meeting, consisting of Dr. Bierring, Prof. Richtmyer, and Dr. Root was continued.

The representatives elected Dr. Shepardson, vice-president of Phi Beta Kappa, Prof. Richtmyer, past president of Sigma Xi, and Dr. Ward, past secretary and an ex-president of Sigma Xi, as members-at-large of the Council. The following officers were elected with authority to select the time and place for the next meeting and to prepare such literature as should be needed: president, Dr. Shepardson, vice-president, Dean Ellery; secretary-treasurer, Dr. Root. (A copy of the Minutes of this meeting, signed by Dr. Root and dated December 9, 1926, is in the Phi Beta Kappa files and we have a copy of it). A feel for the concerns of the new organization can be gathered from Dr. Ward's report in the SIGMA XI QUARTERLY, December 1926, pp. 82-83.

Another article about the Association appeared in BANTA'S CREEK EXCHANGE, January 1927, pp. 3-5, p. 9. The organization was recognized in the 11th edition, 1927, of BAIRD'S MANUAL OF AMERICAN COLLEGES AND FRATERNITIES, p. 302, under the editorship of Dr. Francis W. Shepardson.

Information from these articles and Dr. Root's minutes of the Williamsburg meeting served as the basis of the preparation of the first booklet on the History and Purpose of the Association of College Honor Societies dated April 1927. A copy of this booklet was obtained from the Phi Beta Kappa files and has been reprinted by our Secretary-Treasurer.


According to a report by Prof. Gordon in the May 1929 issue of the PHI KAPPA PHI JOURNAL, a meeting of the representatives was held in Parlor A, Hotel Pennsylvania, New York, November 26, 1927, to consider the adoption of a Constitution and the admission of further organizations. The first session, at which lunch was served, was an open meeting and, on invitation, the following eleven non-member organizations had representatives present: Phi Delta Kappa (Education), Kappa Delta Pi (Education), Delta Sigma Rho (Forensics), Alpha Psi Omega (Dramatics), Sigma Tau (Engineering), Omicron Delta Kappa (General), Delta Phi Delta (Professional Art), Phi Lambda Upsilon (Chemical), Lambda Gamma Delta (Agricultural Judging), Gamma Sigma Delta (Agriculture), and Phi Sigma Iota (Romance Languages). A general discussion was held concerning different aspects of honor societies.

After luncheon, the Council agreed to submit copies of the Constitution, which had been prepared by the committee, to each member for their consideration and report later. With regard to the admission of further organizations, it was agreed that they were not yet in a position to take action and, instead, two committees were appointed: (1) Methods and Conditions of Admission to the Association - Voorhees, Cook and Root; and Organizations Worthy of Consideration - Shepardson, Ward, and Moore. The next meeting was held January 1, 1929, at the same place, and according to Prof. Gordon "to complete the work of the organization." The Committee on Methods and Conditions presented their report which was adopted. No action was taken on the question of organizations to be considered for membership and this was to be considered at the next Council meeting. In his report of this meeting as published in THE BENT of Tau Beta Pi, January 1929, p. 14, Prof. A. D. Moore, said that "the consideration of the Constitution had been under way for a couple of years because of difficulty in drafting a suitable description of the kind of society eligible for membership which is one of the main policies of the organization."

The Constitution was adopted and published in the PHI KAPPA PHI JOURNAL, May 1929, p. 110. A Committee on Membership was set up, a leaflet containing the Constitution and other pertinent information was to be printed for distribution and a questionnaire to be filled out by the petitioning society was to be prepared. Prof. Moore states that the same officers were continued for the following year.


The Council met in the University Club, Chicago, on March 3, 1930. Evidently, the Committee on Membership, had been working diligently as Sigma Tau (Engineering) represented by Morris H. Cook, a member of its Council (Prof. Sjogren, became their Council member), and Omicron Delta Kappa (Leadership and Scholarship) represented by William Moseley Brown, a founder and secretary, were granted full membership.

A plan for making a tentative classification of honor societies was adopted. Dr. Shepardson was reelected president, and Dr. Root, secretary-treasurer. However. Prof. A. D. Moore, Tau Beta Pi, was elected vice-president, succeeding Dr. Ellery of Sigma Xi, although letterheads to at least 1932 still listed Dean Ellery. Dr. Louis B. Wilson, Rochester, Minn., replaced Prof. Richtmyer, as a member-at-large. (THE BENT of Tau Beta Pi, April 1930, p. 40).

Under date of August 17, 1930, Prof. Moore wrote to Dr. Root including a draft of the letter, survey forms, and outline of classification of societies to be sent to the college presidents and deans for their help in classifying and evaluating the societies on their campus. No meeting was held in 1931.

On April 23, 1932, Dr. Root died, following a four months illness, according to his wife. (Letter 6/20/32 to Prof. Brown) An article on "The Honor Societies Conference" by Dr. Shepardson, appeared in THE CIRCLE of ODK, June 1932, pp. 40-41, in which he said that the A.C.H.S. was organized for the specific purpose of establishing a clearly defined line between honor societies and those called honorary. The main thought was to prepare a roll of distinction, admitting to that roll no organization unless it was clearly entitled to a place.

A meeting was held at 3:00 p.m., November 26, 1932, at the Pennsylvania Hotel, New York, for which we have a copy of the minutes. Dr. Brown was elected secretary pro tem for the meeting. Dr. Wm. A. Shimer was to represent Phi Beta Kappa, but was unable to attend. Dr. Shepardson reported on the state of the Association.

It was voted that no applications for membership be considered at this meeting but all applicants were to be notified that their petitions would be considered at the next Council meeting which was set for Summer 1933 in Chicago. The current officers were requested to continue, with Dr. Shepardson also assuming the duties of secretary-treasurer, ad interim.

A meeting was held at 2:00 p.m., June 26, 1933, at the Stevens Hotel, Chicago. Dr. William A. Shimer represented Phi Beta Kappa, and Dr. Voorhees became a member-at-large. Dr. Brown was again appointed secretary pro tem. President Shepardson gave a detailed report, presenting a list of all the so-called college honor societies with pertinent information about each based on about 200 replies received by him from college presidents and deans to the questionnaire. Sigma Xi submitted its resignation by letter "stating that it had decided to devote itself to research primarily, that it no longer considered itself a strictly college organization, and hence was somewhat outside of the field occupied by the Association, and that for these reasons it felt constrained to withdraw from the Association." The Council, recognizing this change of emphasis on tile part of Sigma Xi, found itself, under the necessity of accepting the decision, though regretting it sincerely. A letter was read from Dr. Gordon of Phi Kappa Phi setting forth their position in reference to certain phases of the Association's activity. (Copy of minutes & Dr. Shepardson's report obtained from Dr. Bishop's files).

Dr. Shepardson expressed a wish to retire as president and the Council elected Prof. A. D. Moore, Tau Beta Pi, president; Dr. Wm. M. Brown, ODK, vice-president; and Dr. Shepardson, secretary-treasurer, who agreed to serve in this office only until the next regular election of officers. The new officers were designated as a Committee of Three to carry forward the work of studying and classifying the honor and honorary societies begun by Dr. Shepardson.

I have not been able to find any records that would indicate that any meetings were held in 1934, 1935, or 1936. However, an article by Dr. Brown and Dr. Robert W. Bishop on the A.C.H.S. in THE CIRCLE of ODK, June 1938, states "that during this rime the Executive Committee, of which Dr. Shepardson was the leading spirit, was making a careful study of the problem of classifying the continually growing list of college honor societies." As one result of this study, four new members were elected at the meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on February 27, 1937; Beta Gamma Sigma (Commerce); Mortar Board (Student Leadership-Women), Mrs. Kay Coleman, national president, became their Council member; Phi Eta Sigma (Freshman Scholarship-Men); and Tau Kappa Alpha (Forensics). The Council voted also to cooperate with a committee composed of Dean J. A. Park, representing the Association of Deans and Advisors of Men, and Dean Esther A. Gaw, representing the Deans of Women, in their effort to classify and control the large number of honorary organizations in existence. Prof. P. W. Ott, Tau Beta Pi, was selected to represent the A.C.H.S. on this committee. New officers elected: president, Dr. Henry D. Ward, member-at-large; vice-president, Dr. Wm. Brown, Dr. Josiah J. Moore, Alpha Omega Alpha; and secretary-treasurer, Omicron Delta Kappa.

I have not found a list of those attending the 1937 meeting but Dr. Lawrence Guild has stated that he attended as Phi Kappa Phi's representatives and that Shepardson was there. Dr. Bishop says that he attended as an "onlooker and listener." Later in the year, August 9, 1937, Dr. Shepardson passed away and the A.C.H.S. lost another of its founding members and long time leader.

According to Dr. Guild, Dr. Wm. A. Shimer, who had succeeded Dr. Voorhees as secretary of Phi Beta Kappa and became its official representative to the Council in 1932, left the 1937 meeting so unhappy that he announced that he would recommend to his trustees that Phi Beta Kappa withdraw officially. This he did and the Senate of Phi Beta Kappa voted to withdraw from the A.C.H.S. at a meeting in New York on December 15, 1937. This action was confirmed by Dr. Shimer in a letter dated December 21, 1937, to Dr. Brown, A.C.H.S. secretary-treasurer. (Copies of the letter and minutes of Senate action were obtained from Phi Beta Kappa files).

A meeting was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, March 12, 1938, with all ten current member societies present. New standards of admission and a new classification were adopted, which was expected to clarify the situation with respect to honor and honorary organization. The 1937 officers were reflected.

At the meeting in Indianapolis, February 19-20, 1939, the Council finally spelled out the definition of an honor society and the general requirements for membership in two classes of societies: Scholarship Honor Societies and Leadership Honor Societies:

" I. The definition of an Honor Society, previously adopted, was revised to read as follows:

An Honor Society shall be defined as an organization in a college or university of recognized standing which meets the following minimum qualifications:

(1) It receives into membership those who achieve high scholarship and who fulfill such additional requirements of distinction in leadership or in some broad field of culture as the organization may establish; (2) It elects to membership irrespective of membership in or affiliation with other organizations; (3) It confers membership solely on the basis of character and eligibility.

II. For purposes of convenience, Honor Societies were then classified into two groups, viz:

(1) Scholarship Honor Societies. Organizations established in colleges and universities of recognized standing, meeting the requirements set forth above and basing eligibility to membership primarily upon the attainment of a high standard of scholarship, shall be considered "Scholarship" Honor Societies. Membership should include only individuals in the highest 20% of scholarship.

(2) Leadership Honor Societies. Organizations established in colleges or universities of recognized standing, meeting the requirements set forth above and basing eligibility to membership primarily upon attainment in leadership or in some broad field of culture and rank in the highest 35% of scholarship.

III. It was voted that the Association recommend to Scholarship Honor Societies that their membership include only individuals ranking in the highest 20% of scholarship, and that Leadership Honor Societies not go below the top 35% in scholarship.

IV. A committee was appointed to investigate the number and characteristics of those Honor Societies which draw their membership from limited specialized fields of study. It is believed that the report of this Committee will aid the Association in the consideration of the relationship which should exist between such groups and the Association of College Honor Societies. In addition, this Committee is to investigate the eligibility of any other organizations which may possess the necessary qualifications for membership."

As you can imagine, these requirements affected several of their members, some of which elected members from the upper 25% in scholarship. New officers were elected: president, Dr. J. J. Moore, Alpha Omega Alpha; vice-president, Prof. P. W. Ott, Tau Beta Pi; and secretary-treasurer, Dr. Lawrence R. Guild, Phi Kappa Phi. Dr. Brown and Mrs. Coleman, Mortar Board, with the officers, were to constitute the Executive Committee. Drs. Voorhees and Ward continued as Council members-at-large. Evidently, Alpha Lambda Delta was admitted to membership in 1939 as Dean Maria Leonard was listed as their representative in the minutes of the 1940 meeting but there is no reference to this in the summary of the minutes of the 1939 meeting.

As an indication of the extent of the concern about college honor societies, a conference was held in the Office of Education, Department of the Interior, on April 21-22, 1939, for the purpose of seeking ways to enhance the value of college honor societies. In attendance were: George A. Baitsell, Yale, president, Sigma Xi; Walter L. Bierring, M.D., Des Moines, president, Alpha Omega Alpha; Ray A. Brown, University of Wisconsin, president, Order of the Coif; Mrs. Beulah Clark Van Wagamen, Hampton Institute, president, Pi Lambda Theta; Paul M. Cook, Homewood, Ill., executive secretary, Phi Delta Kappa; Miss Hughrina McKay, Ohio State, treasurer, Omicron Nu; J. A. Park, Ohio State, chairman, National Committee on College Fraternities and Societies; Wm. A. Shimer, New York, secretary, Phi Beta Kappa; and Charles H. Spencer, Washington, D.C., president, Tau Beta Pi. The group requested the Office of Education to survey, report, and recommend concerning the aims, methods, organization and values of National College Honor Societies.

The 1940 meeting was held at the Chicago Towers Club, February 24th, and all members were present except Prof. Ott, Tau Beta Pi, who was ill, and Dr. Voorhees, member-at-large, who felt it was inadvisable to come north from Florida. During the meeting it was agreed that A.C.H.S. was not to concern itself for the present, with "departmental recognition societies". Representatives appeared on behalf of Mu Phi Epsilon (Women's Music), Alpha Epsilon Delta (Premedicine), and Pi Kappa Lambda (Music). The Council voted to "invite Pi Kappa Lambda to accept membership in A.C.H.S.," but decided that Mu Phi Epsilon and Alpha Epsilon Delta did not meet their definition of an Honor Society.

Dean Fred Turner was present, representing the National Interfraternity Conference which he indicated planned a study of Honor, Honorary, Professional, and Activity Societies and Fraternities. It was pointed out that the Deans' Committee (Dr. Park) had taken little or no action and that the U.S. Department of Education was not likely to undertake such a study. The Council then voted that Dean Turner be assured of the full cooperation of the A.C.H.S. and that a committee for this purpose be appointed when and if needed.

The following officers were elected: Dr. Moore, reelected president; Dean G. Herbert Smith, Phi Eta Sigma, vice-president; and Dr. Guild, reelected secretary-treasurer. Dr. Robert W. Bishop (ODK) was elected to the Executive Committee, replacing Dr. Wm. M. Brown, along with the reelection of Mrs. F. D. Coleman.

The meeting in the Stevens Hotel, Chicago, March 1, 1941, is of interest because the reapplication of Mu Phi Epsilon (Music), precipitated an extensive discussion of the need for a definite demarcation between professional and honor groups, as there were many border-line groups which partook of both and did not classify easily.

Dean Turner, representing Phi Eta Sigma at the Council meetings and the National Interfraternity Conference, reported on the work of the NIC Committee on Greek Letter Societies. In the discussion, it appeared that one of the major concerns was the question of limited field honor societies, or, as they are sometimes called "recognition societies." It was pointed out that heretofore the A.C.H.S. had restricted itself to activities involving leadership in a broad field. At his renewed insistence, Dr. Voorhees' resignation as a member-at-large (1925-41) of the Council was accepted with regret. Dr. Roy C. Flickinger, State University of Iowa, was selected to replace him and join Drs. Duerr and Ward. Drs. Moore and Guild were reelected president and secretary-treasurer, respectively, and Dr. Bishop, ODK, was elected vice-president. Prof. J. Brownlee Davidson, Sigma Tau, was elected to the Executive Committee joining Mrs. Coleman.

Mrs. Coleman, president of Mortar Board, reacted promptly to the March 1 meeting by writing a letter to Dr. Bishop (March 5, 1941) and the other officers and Council members, stating "I feel somehow we 'missed the boat' at our last meeting. Our meetings are costly to our organizations. We have always spent much time reviewing past history, and on applications for membership, and allowed too little time to finish anything conclusively and satisfactorily. The time seems ripe for action. But it ought to be action based upon deliberation. Representing organizations, we are in a position to wield great influence. We have a great and definite responsibility to come up with some conclusions and recommendations and give some help if we can consider carefully some of the ideas that were suggested." She went on to suggest that Dr. Moore appoint some small committees to study various questions and present their recommendations so that the A.C.H.S. representative to the NIC Committee meeting could have some definite suggestions to offer. She presented the following for consideration:

1) We ought to define exactly what we consider broad fields of study in order to decide which groups we would accept.

2) We ought to define what we consider narrow fields in order to have some definite policy on which to base our refusal of such groups.

3) We ought to decide which of two policies we wish to pursue:

a) to broaden our own membership to include all eligible organizations and then function with some force, or b) to continue with the present membership as a forum only.

4) We should consider what associations we think are necessary to control the whole situation. Would you think it desirable to have an Association of Honor Societies, including groups who qualify under our definitions, an Association of Professional Societies, and an Association under our sponsorship to be named perhaps the Association of Recognition Societies, to include departmental, special interest or narrow field groups, whose purposes are to recognize either promise of achievement, special interest plus special merit of work done in special courses. It seems to me unwise to have too many associations. The professional groups have ably defined their own requirements. We could help define the others.

5) We ought to define a national group in terms of its merit and right to existence -- how many chapters, where the chapters are and might be located, when a local group seems more desirable and valuable than a national, etc.

6) We ought to recommend certain policies to those organizations with whom we have influence as to what constitutes reasonable dues, what use ought to be made of those dues, do we approve paid executives and central offices for honor groups, as well as setting scholastic requirements for honor societies who wish to qualify with us. "

Her letter focused on an awareness that several organizations were looking to the A.C.H.S. more and more for guidance in the field which it represented and it had not quite lived up to these expectations. Dr. Ward and Dr. Bishop responded with several thoughtful suggestions and comments. As a result, Dr. Moore appointed a Committee on Standards with Dr. Bishop, and Dr. P. W. Ott, Tau Beta Pi, as members, since they were close to each other (Cincinnati and Ohio State) to consider the items from Mrs. Coleman's letter, prior to Dean Turner's meeting.

A meeting was held at the Hotel Statler, Cleveland, October 25-26, 1941, by the NIC Special Committee, consisting of Dean Turner, chairman; Dr. Arthur Ray Warnock, Penn State; and Dr. Herbert Herring, Duke, with representatives of the NIC, Mr. L. G. Balfour, president, and Dr. Alvan L. Duerr; National Panhellenic Congress; Professional Interfraternity Conference; Women's Professional Panhellenic Association; Association of Education Sororities; National Osteopathic Interfraternity Conference; National Junior College Panhellenic; the Association of Teachers Colleges Fraternities; and the Association of College Honor Societies - Dr. Moore (Chicago), president; Dr. Bishop (Cincinnati), vice-president; Dr. Guild (Pittsburgh), secretary-treasurer; Mrs. Coleman (Lincoln, Neb.), member of the Executive Committee; Dr. Ward (Urbana, ill.), Council member-at-large; Prof. Waiter A. Stutz (Evanston, Ill.), Pi Kappa Lambda, Council member; and Dr. Lionel Crocker (Granville, Ohio), Tau Kappa Alpha, Council member. Thus, of the twenty persons present, seven represented the A.C.H.S. Mrs. Coleman was asked to serve as the secretary.

Mr. Balfour explained that the Committee was appointed in 1939 at the request of organizations and college administrators to classify and clarify the situation regarding Creek Letter organizations. After two days of intense discussions, including Saturday evening, it was suggested that the starting point of action must be comprehensive definitions of the several categories of fraternities and societies as to character and function. The A.C.H.S. was requested to formulate and present a definition of general and specialized fields of education and of what property constituted an honor society, as a basis on which the other categories might be defined and all organizations might be classified as to character and educational value.

Interestingly, the meeting could not agree on a definition of a recognized college; the educational groups protested that they believed that BAIRD'S MANUAL discriminated against educational fraternities and teachers colleges; and the group requested the chairman to urge the cooperation of Phi Beta Kappa.

December 7, 1941, was the day of Pearl Harbor and World War II began for the U.S. No meetings of the A.C.H.S. Council were held until 1945. However, the A.C.H.S. Committee on Standards continued to function as a meeting of the NIC Committee on Fraternities and Societies was called by the Chairman, Mr. Balfour, at the Commodore Hotel, New York, October 9, 1943, with representatives from the National Interfraternity Conference, National Panhellenic Association, Professional Interfraternity Conference, and the A.C.H.S.'s Dr. Bishop. At this meeting, Dr. Bishop, on behalf of the A.C.H.S., presented a tentative definition of an honor society, defined the broad fields of education with a list of examples, the functions of an honor society, the classification of Scholarship Honor Societies and Leadership Honor Societies, and their requirements for membership, and the definition of a Recognition Society.

After lengthy discussion of the value of Recognition Societies, it was moved and passed that A.C.H.S. be invited to establish some form of jurisdictional association with such recognition societies as have definite educational value. (Thus, the monkey was put on A.C.H.S's back.) Among the guests invited to attend part of the session was Mr. Albert B. Tabor, secretary of Phi Beta Kappa.

The nature of the problems given to A.C.H.S. for approval and action made it necessary for A.C.H.S. to move as soon as possible. President Moore appointed a Special Executive Committee, consisting of Mrs. Coleman, Drs. Bishop, Guild, Ward, and himself, to consider the proposals in detail and make recommendations to the Council. This Committee met in Chicago on February 26-27, 1944, and voted to restate the classification of societies presented by A.C.H.S. to include (1) Honor Societies and (2) Recognition Societies. It then went on to develop detailed statements of definitions for Honor Societies and Recognition Societies, with examples of their fields, standards for membership in each and outlined the functions of an Honor Society. It developed revision of the A.C.H.S. Constitution to accomplish the above. This was an important meeting for the A.C.H.S.

A copy of the minutes of their meeting, with all proposals, was sent to the members of the Council to express their judgment on an attached ballot sheet and requested prompt return of their ballot and comments to the secretary, as another National Committee Meeting was expected to be held in April.

A meeting was called April 15, 1944, in Chicago by Dr. Duerr, NIC, in the absence of Mr. Balfour, who was unable to attend. Drs. Moore and Bishop represented A. C.H. S. Dr. Moore reported that A.C.H.S. had implemented the resolutions of the Committee passed at its last meeting affecting the A.C.H.S. by a reclassification of the societies represented by the A.C.H.S. and read the definitions and standards, etc., adopted after submission to the A.C.H.S. Council, in which the requirements for membership in member societies are spelled out in greater detail.


Honor Societies which base eligibility primarily upon scholarship in a broad field of education shall elect from the highest 20% of the class in scholarship;

Honor Societies which base eligibility primarily upon leadership shall elect from the highest 35% of the class in scholarship;

Election to membership in honor societies other than freshman honor societies shall be held not earlier than the end of the fifth semester or the eighth quarter of the college course.

Recognition societies which elect persons actively interested in a specific field shall elect those only who are found adequate in this field, who are definitely above average in general scholarship, and who have completed at least three semesters or five quarters of the college course."

At last, the A.C.H.S. had spelled out in specific detail its definitions, classifications, requirements, and functions of an honor society and opened its doors to all qualified societies.

In following up these actions, Dr. Guild, as secretary, sent out a letter, dated July 14, 1944, to those "Recognition Societies" which were thought might qualify, giving information about the A.C.H.S., current activities of the National Committee, a statement of the nature and purpose of Recognition Societies, etc., inviting those who felt that they belonged in the A.C.H.S. to make application for affiliation with it (an application form was enclosed).

A meeting of the A.C.H.S Council was held at the University Club of Chicago, Sunday, April 22, 1945. The Committee on Eligibility and Admissions had met the day before with representatives of four petitioning groups: Alpha Epsilon Delta (Premedical), Dr. Maurice L. Moore; Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics), Dr. Marsh W. White; Alpha Kappa Delta (Sociology), Dr. W. Russell Tyler; and Phi Alpha Theta (History), whose representative, Dr. Donald B. Hoffman, was prevented by illness from attending. On recommendation of the Committee at the Council meeting, Alpha Epsilon Delta and Phi Alpha Theta, which had submitted final and official applications, were accepted into membership. Sigma Pi Sigma and Alpha Kappa Delta, which had submitted preliminary applications were invited into membership upon the submission of their official applications. (Sigma Pi Sigma did this promptly but it was 1967 before Alpha Kappa Delta became a member.). Drs. Moore and Tyler were invited into the meeting. Some societies had made clear to the Committee on Eligibility and Admissions that they disliked the term "recognition" and desired a more clear-cut "honor" status accorded them. The Committee on Classification and Terminology was reconstituted with instructions to continue its deliberations and to report at an early date. Dr. Guild was elected president; Prof. Davison, Sigma Tau, vice-president; Dr. Bishop, secretary-treasurer; Dean Ray E. Glos, Phi Eta Sigma, assistant secretary; and Mrs. Coleman reelected to the Executive Committee. Drs. Ward and Duerr continued as members-at-large of the Council, but Dr. Flickinger of Iowa State had passed away. The officers lost no time in putting the new members to work as Dr. Hoffman was put on the Committee on Classification and Terminology, and Dr. M. L. Moore was appointed chairman of the Committee on Eligibility and Admissions with Prof. J. W. Clark, Tau Beta Pi, and Dr. White, Sigma Pi Sigma.

Much of the information regarding classification, definitions, standards and functions of honor societies appeared in an article entitled, "The Honor Society in American Colleges," in SCHOOL AND SOCIETY, December 1945, pp. 1-3, by Dr. Bishop. In this article, the term "Departmental Honor Societies" was used for the first time in place of "Recognition Societies."

In 1947, Dr. White was elected vice-president. In 1948, Robert H. Nagel, Tau Beta Pi, was elected assistant secretary, and began his long years of service as an officer and Council member. In 1949, Dr. Bishop was elevated from secretary-treasurer to president, succeeding Dr. Guild, who had moved from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles and retired as Phi Kappa Phi's representative. Mr. Nagel was elected secretary-treasurer and Mr. Alton B. Zerby, Eta Kappa Nu, assistant secretary. Dr. White was reelected vice-president. Dr. M. L. Moore joined Mrs. Coleman to complete the Executive Committee. In 1950, Dr. White was elected to president, succeeding Dr. Bishop, and Dr. George L. Webster, Rho Chi, was elected vice-president. Dr. Hoffman and Dean Adele H. Stamp, Alpha Lambda Delta, were elected to the Executive Committee. Mr. Nagel continued to serve as secretary-treasurer until 1957 and as president 1957-59. Dr. Bishop continued to serve A.C.H.S. for many years on various committees and was chairman of the important Committee on Standards, Definitions, and Classifications on which he first served in 1941.

This covers the first 25 years of A.C.H.S. and takes us through the second group of influential leaders, when Drs. Ward, J. J. Moore, and Guild were retiring, and Dr. Bishop was continuing his significant contributions, along with Dr. White, Mr. Nagel, Dr. Hoffman, and other leaders who have carried us through the 2nd quarter century of A.C.H.S. activities. In 1972, after retiring as ODK's representative on the Council from 1939 to 1969, Dr. Bishop prepared his personal notes on the beginnings of A.C.H.S., dates, and places of meetings, a few items on what transpired and the names of the officers and Executive Committee members from 1925-1971. These notes, along with Dr. Guild's personal recollections and Mr. Nagel's comments are being made a part of the A.C.H.S. Archives so that we will have a good record of A.C.H.S.'s founding and history.

As Dr. Bishop has pointed out (Letter to MLM 7/18/82) " in all the A.C.H.S. vicissitudes during its formative years, a commitment to make the Association's purposes effective stands out. To be sure a few hardy souls and tenacious workers, often times behind the scenes, had to point the way and carry the torch. This has been so throughout history in all good causes." Dr. Wm. W. Root, Dr. Oscar Voorhees, Dr. Francis W. Shepardson, Prof. A. D. Moore, Dr. Henry B. Ward, Dr. Wm. M. Brown, Dr. J. J. Moore, Dr. Lawrence R. Guild, Mrs. F. D. (Kay) Coleman, and Dr. Robert W. Bishop carried the torch for A.C.H.S. during the period 1925 to 1950.