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Indiana Historical Bureau

IHB > Historical Markers > Find a Marker > Kappa Alpha Psi Kappa Alpha Psi

Kappa
Alpha PsiKappa
Alpha Psi

The Elder Diggs Memorial, 1469 E. 17th Street, Bloomington, Monroe County

Installed 2008 Indiana Historical Bureau and Indiana University

ID#: 53.2008.1

Text

Side one:

Excluded from social events at Indiana University, black male students founded and incorporated Kappa Alpha Nu in 1911. One of the earliest black national social fraternities established in the U.S. One goal was to expand to other schools to help members attain high "intellectual, moral and social worth." Name changed to Kappa Alpha Psi, 1915.

Side two:

In 1961, over 600 members attended the dedication of this building as the Elder Watson Diggs Memorial, to house the fraternity's Alpha (first) Chapter. Fraternity sold house in 2005 to Indiana University Foundation. As of 2008, Alpha chapter is active on this campus and more than 700 undergraduate and alumni chapters have been chartered worldwide

 

Annotated Text

Side one:
Excluded from social events at Indiana University(1), black male students founded(2) and incorporated(3) Kappa Alpha Nu in 1911. One of the earliest black national social fraternities established in the U.S.(4) One goal was to expand to other schools to help members attain high intellectual, moral and social worth.(5) Name changed to Kappa Alpha Psi, 1915.(6)

Side two:
In 1961, over 600 members attended the dedication of this building as the Elder Watson Diggs Memorial, to house the fraternity's Alpha (first) Chapter.(7) Fraternity sold house in 2005 to Indiana University Foundation.(8) As of 2008, Alpha chapter is active on this campus(9) and more than 700 undergraduate and alumni chapters have been chartered worldwide.(10)

Notes

(1) Emma Lou Thornbrough, Indiana Blacks in the Twentieth Century (Bloomington, 2000), 11 (B070575). Thornbrough wrote, Although blacks were admitted to the university and played on athletic teams, they were excluded from student dormitories and social activities.
The Daily Student, the student newspaper at Indiana University, Bloomington, ran a story about the fraternity's founding. It emphasized black students' exclusion from social events and noted that Kappa Alpha Nu helped fill this void. The article states: The fraternity fills a much needed want among the fellows in the way of providing adequate means of recreation and social intercourse. Kappa Alpha Nu Is The Latest Fraternity, Daily Student, April 5, 1911 (B070713).
William L. Crump, former Grand Historian of Kappa Alpha Psi, claimed that white students almost completely ignored black students at Indiana University in 1910. William L. Crump, The Story of Kappa Alpha Psi: A History of the Beginning and Development of a College Greek Letter Organization, 1911-1991 (Philadelphia, 1991), 2 (B070570).
Fraternities nationwide practiced exclusion as well. Beginning in the 1880s, fraternities imposed racial and religious restrictions on membership as more African Americans enrolled in institutions of higher education. Alfred McClung Lee, Fraternities Without Brotherhood: A Study of Prejudice on the American Campus (Boston, 1955), 20 (B070586).

(2) The Kappa Alpha Nu Fraternity, Charter to the Alpha Chapter, January 5, 1911, copy provided by Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. (B071241). Both the Grand Chapter (national organization) and the Alpha Chapter (first local chapter) were founded on January 5, 1911 at Indiana University, Bloomington. The Grand Chapter's officers were: Elder W. Diggs, Grand Polemarch; John M. Lee, Grand Keeper of Records and Exchequer; and Byron Armstrong, Grand Strategus.

(3) Articles of Incorporation, State of Indiana, Kappa Alpha Nu, May 15, 1911, copy provided by Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. (B071240). Eleven students signed the incorporation papers on April 3, 1911; Elder W. Diggs, Paul W. Caine, John M. Lee, George Edmonds, Marcs P. Blakemore, Edward G. Irvin, Byron K. Armstrong, Ezra D. Alexander, Guy Grant, Henry T. Asher, and Fred O. Mitchell. They filed the incorporation papers with the Indiana Secretary of State on May 15, 1911.

(4) The first national social African-American fraternity was Alpha Phi Alpha, established at Cornell University (Ithaca, N. Y.) in 1906. Charter, Alpha Phi Alpha, 1906, http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/alpha/earlyalpha/earlyalpha_1.html (accessed June 26, 2008) (B071251) and Harold Baily, ed., Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (Fifteenth Edition) (Menasha, Wis., 1949), 104-08 (B071271).
According to Baird's Manual, Eleventh Edition, published in 1927, Kappa Alpha Psi is the second fraternity founded by African Americans in the United States. Francis W. Shepardson, ed., Baird's Manual American College Fraternities (Eleventh Edition) (Menasha, WI, 1927), 495-506 (B071270).
1. Alpha Phi Alpha, 1906, Cornell University.
2. Kappa Alpha Psi, January 5, 1911, Indiana University.
3. Omega Psi Phi, November 17, 1911, Howard University.
4. Phi Beta Sigma, January 9, 1914, Howard University.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, an organization composed of nine historically black fraternities and sororities, also states that Kappa Alpha Psi was the second fraternity founded for African Americans in the United States. Alpha Phi Alpha is listed as the first. National Pan-Hellenic Council, About Us, www.nphchq.org/about.htm (accessed June 26, 2008) (B071273).

(5) Articles of Incorporation, State of Indiana, Kappa Alpha Nu, May 15, 1911, copy provided by Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. (B071240). Be it known that the subscribers hereto, who are colored citizens of the United States and students of Indiana University, do hereby associate themselves together under the laws of the State of Indiana, for the purpose of founding a National, Secret, Greek Letter Fraternity for colored, matriculated men students and teachers of universities and colleges throughout the United States of America, and of incorporating the Grand Chapter thereof, not for pecuniary profit but to stimulate fellow students to the attainment of high, intellectual, moral and social worth.

(6) The official proclamation that changed the fraternity's name is no longer in existence.  In The Story of Kappa Alpha Psi, William L. Crump provides a transcription of the April 15, 1915 proclamation issued by the Grand Polemarch, Elder W. Diggs, which announced the fraternity's name change. William L. Crump, The Story of Kappa Alpha Psi: A History of the Beginning and Development of a College Greek Letter Organization, 1911-1991 (Philadelphia, 1991), 27 (B070570).
Several other sources confirm April 15, 1915 as the date the fraternity's name changed. All living members who founded the fraternity gave an account of the early years of its existence at a meeting in Michigan. Guy Grant, Ezra D. Alexander, Edward Irvin, Marcus P. Blakemore, John M. Lee, Henry Asher, and Byron K. Armstrong attended. The founders agreed that the fraternity's name changed to Kappa Alpha Psi on April 15, 1915. Minutes of the Founders Meeting on the Early History of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, February 22, 1952, copy provided by Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. (B071242).
Kappa Alpha Psi's Grand Historian, Ralph J. Bryson, confirmed that the fraternity's name changed on April 15, 1915. Email, Spencer T. Bruce, Deputy Executive Director, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., to Indiana Historical Bureau, May 28, 2008 (B071286).
The name of the fraternity was legally changed to The Grand Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi in 1923. Certificate of Changes in Articles of Incorporation of the Grand Chapter of Kappa Alpha Nu, State of Indiana, November 20, 1923, copy provided by Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. (B071243).
The fraternity was reincorporated in Pennsylvania in 1933. In 1974, the fraternity's name changed from The Grand Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi to Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Amended Certificate of Authority, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, March 27, 1974, copy provided by Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. (B071282).

(7) An article in Bloomington's Daily Herald-Telephone claimed, more than 600 members of the national social fraternity and their families attended a dedications [sic] of Alpha chapter's Elder W. Diggs Memorial chapter house Sunday afternoon. The dedication, held on August 27, 1961, was part of the fraternity's 50th annual meeting, held in Bloomington. Kappa Alpha Psi Convention Observes 50th Anniversary, Daily Herald-Telephone (Bloomington), August 29, 1961 (B071292) and Crump, The Story of Kappa Alpha Psi, 315-16 (B070570).
The Diggs Memorial was still under construction at the time of the dedication. More College Houses New Goal Set By Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Daily Herald-Telephone (Bloomington), August 30, 1961 (B071301.
After completing construction, the Alpha Chapter hosted an open house for the Diggs Memorial in February 1962. Delegates from 237 chapters attended this event. New House Dedication This Weekend, Indiana Daily Student, February 3, 1962 (B070720) and Crump, The Story of Kappa Alpha Psi, 330-31 (B070570).

(8) Warranty Deed, Grand Chapter, Kappa Alpha Psi to Indiana University Foundation, March 14, 2005, Monroe County Recorder's Office (B071222). Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. sold the property for $1.00 to the Indiana University Foundation, which manages the school's endowment and raises funds for all campuses of Indiana University.
According to Michael Gordon, former Dean of Students at Indiana University and former advisor to the Alpha Chapter, low membership and a fragile budget for Alpha Chapter were the main reasons the fraternity left the house in the mid 1990s and sold the building in 2005. Email, Michael Gordon, to Richard N. McKaig, Indiana University Dean of Students, January 11, 2008, forwarded by William H. Wiggins, Jr., to Indiana Historical Bureau, January 12, 2008 (B071233). For more information about Alpha Chapter's move from the house and sale of the building in 2005, please see the Indiana Historical Bureau's Kappa Alpha Psi Research Summary.
In 2008, the Indiana University Police Department moved its headquarters into the building. IUPD Moves Into 17th St. Location, Indiana Daily Student, February 6, 2008 (B071239).

(9) Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. confirms that Alpha Chapter is still active at Indiana University. Email, Spencer T. Bruce, Deputy Executive Director, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., to Indiana Historical Bureau, July 11, 2008 (B071285).
In April 2008, Kappa Alpha Psi participated in the sixth annual Stepdown Saturday. Alpha Phi Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta win 6th Stepdown, Indiana Daily Student, April 13, 2008 (B071291).
As of 2008, Indiana University recognizes Kappa Alpha Psi as the only fraternity with an Alpha Chapter associated with the Bloomington campus. Greek Organizations, www.iub.edu/student/greek.shtml (accessed June 30, 2008) (B071272).

(10) Email, Spencer T. Bruce, Deputy Executive Director, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., to Indiana Historical Bureau, July 11, 2008 (B071285). Bruce indicated that the fraternity has chartered 391 undergraduate and 379 alumni chapters since 1911.
In addition to the chapters established in the United States, Kappa Alpha Psi has also chartered chapters in Panama, Japan, Korea, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Province Polemarchs & Chapter Contact Info, www.kappaalphapsi1911.com/contacts/province_polemarchs_new.asp (accessed July 15, 2008 (B071297).