Almost every man, during his college course, finds himself a member of one or more of the societies in which Harvard abounds. Nearly all these societies, secret or otherwise, were founded for social purposes, and are carried on with this end in view. But there is one notable exception to this the society to which those only are admitted who have shown themselves of permanent ability in regard to scholarship throughout their college course. I refer to the
PHI BETA KAPPA.This society was first introduced into this country about the year 1776, in which year a charter was granted to the college of William and Mary of Virginia. The society quickly extended to Harvard, and a chapter was founded there in 1781. The object of the society was the promotion of literature and friendly intercourse among scholars, but only those students who obtained a high rank were admitted. The motto of the society is "Philosophia, Biou Kubernetes," or "Philosophy, the Guide of Life." The Phi Beta Kappa now has chapters in very nearly every college of note in the country.
During the early part of its existence, the society had its secret obligations, sign, word and grip, by which its members were enabled to recognize each other in any company. Thus it might be classed with the order of Freemasons. At present there is no secrecy about its proceedings, at least in Harvard. It is customary for the first twenty-five of the graduating class to compose it, but the number is a little less in the smaller colleges.
THE HASTY PUDDING CLUBwas founded in 1795 by members of the class of 1797, and is the leading senior and junior society. It numbers a little less than one hundred, three-fourths of whom are chosen during the junior year of a class, the rest being chosen the following year. The origin of the name is as follows: In the year 1795, while the students were living together in commons, a member of the class of 1797, who was suffering from ill-health, hired an old lady living near by to cook him regularly some hasty pudding, thinking that this diet would be beneficial to him. As he seemed to thrive under this treatment, a number of his classmates tried the same experiment. The result was that the dish grew in popularity and the "Pudding Men," as they were styled, met each evening in the room of one of the members, where plenty of hasty pudding was provided. At first no thoughts of a regular club existed in the minds of the participants, but later a large and thriving society sprang from this simple proceeding.
In 1808 a library was established by the society. The medal of the club was of silver, octagonal in shape, on one side of which there is very appropriately engraved a kettle of steaming hasty pudding, surmounted by a hand on each side, one holding a dish, the other a spoon.
Previous to 1850 there was no regular place of meeting. At that time, Nos. 29 and 31 Stoughton were given up to the club as society rooms. In 1871 two more rooms were granted in the same building. In 1876 the society moved to the upper floor of the society building on Holmes field. At present it has rooms on Brattle street in addition to its rooms in the society building. The proceedings of the club are secret.