Fraternities donate items to start archives

  • Swem LibraryThe Earl Gregg Swem Library houses William & Mary's Special Collections Research Center.

    Swem Library
September 9, 2011, members of the newest historically black fraternity at the College of William & Mary, Omega Psi Phi, presented items relating to their chapter to Amy Schindler, the university archivist, and Bea Hardy, the Marian and Alan McLeod Director of the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library.  Four of the eight charter members, Donald Gardner ’11, Richard Bourne-Vanneck ’11, Justin Reid '09, and Mario Newby '11, represented the fraternity. 

The Omega Psi Phi brothers chose September 9 as the day to establish the chapter’s archives because it marked the 96th anniversary of the founding of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History by the distinguished scholar Carter G. Woodson, himself a member of Omega Psi Phi.  The Greek organization is establishing its chapter archives at Swem to make them widely accessible and to ensureOmega Psi Phi their preservation.  As Reid noted, “Fifty years from now, we want future brothers to be able to see these items belonging to the charter members.”

Coincidentally, earlier in the afternoon, two members of the oldest historically black fraternity at William & Mary, Alpha Phi Alpha, came to the Special Collections Research Center to establish their chapter’s archives.   The chapter celebrated its 35th anniversary with a brunch at Swem Library during Homecoming 2010.  On Friday, Bobak Kasrai '09 and Jerome Carter ’12 presented correspondence, posters, and other materials relating to their chapter’s history to Schindler and Hardy.

Among the items given by Omega Psi Phi to the University Archives are a kente cloth worn at commencement by Reid and a 1960s Omega Psi Phi sweater that Reid’s father, also a member of the fraternity, wore while he was a student at what was then Virginia State College in Petersburg.  A pair of camouflage pants pays homage to the trailblazing role played by earlier Omega Psi Phis in desegregating the U.S. military.

The Alpha Delta Sigma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. received its charter in September 2010. Founded on November 17, 1911 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., the national Omega Psi Phi Fraternity celebrated its centennial in July of this year.  Among its many distinguished members have been the noted poet Langston Hughes, civil rights leaders Oliver Hill and Roy Wilkins, entertainer and educator Bill Cosby, and the nation’s first elected black governor, L. Douglas Wilder.

Alpha Phi AlphaThe Kappa Pi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. received its charter in May 1975.  Founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the national Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was the first African-American intercollegiate fraternity.  Among its many distinguished members have been Martin Luther King, Jr., jazz musician Duke Ellington, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and entrepreneur Johnson H. Johnson. 

The University Archives is part of the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library.  It holds the records of numerous student organizations as well as the College’s official records.  The Omega Psi Phi collection joins those of other Greek social and academic fraternities.  The Special Collections Research Center is open for use by students and the public 10-5:45 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; 10-8:45 on Wednesdays; and 10-1 on Saturdays.