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Alpha and Alpha Kappa Psi

LPHA AND ALPHA PHI KAPPA PSI: Smith College’s first literary society, the Alpha Society was founded by the class of 1881 in the winter of their freshman year. Mary Sophia Wilkie, ex-member of the Class of 1881, chaired the club’s first meeting on January 19, 1878 and the society soon gained much respect and admiration for its frequent productions of popular plays and its publication of its own newspaper, The Alpha. Club members met approximately once every three weeks. The club meetings included entertainment such as plays, music, readings, recitations, and lectures on various topics of interest. The society was such a success that in 1892, five members of the Alpha Society broke off to form a rival society, Phi Kappa Psi. Both societies continued to flourish, selecting their members by careful consideration of artistic merit and creativity. In 1934, however, the two societies elected to combine as student interests shifted away from the arts, and formed the society known as Alpha Phi Kappa Psi, thus allowing both societies to endure. In 1938, Alpha Phi Kappa Psi adopted a new constitution which limited its membership to thirty students who had distinguished themselves in one or more of the arts, thus reflecting the club’s ideological shift over the years from “an amusement society,” as it was described by an 1883 member, to “an honorary [sic] society which recognizes outstanding creative achievement,” as it was described in 1938. While records are unclear as to when Alpha Phi Kappa Psi was discontinued, its last appearance in the Smith College Yearbook was in 1959.

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