Story of historic African-American fraternity told through University Archives
The University of Chicago’s Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. is celebrating its centennial this year. Established on February 9, 1918, the African-American fraternity initiated members who went on to high achievement in law, education, medicine, politics, and more.
Kappa Alpha Psi member Aaron Williams published a history of Iota Chapter in the Winter 2017 issue of the fraternity’s Journal, chronicling Iota Chapter’s struggles with campus housing and restrictive covenants, and its exclusion from the Interfraternity Council (IFC). Williams also writes about Iota Chapter’s residence at 4752 South Ellis, its repeated win of the IFC Sing cup, and the academic experiences and distinguished careers of 54 of its members.
Williams drew upon archival resources at the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center, as well the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection at the Chicago Public Library, the fraternity’s archive, and interviews with alumni. The article cites archival issues of The Chicago Maroon and The Cap and Gown, and highlights photographs from the University of Chicago Photographic Archive that feature members of Iota Chapter.
Mr. Williams’ article is an excellent example of the use of archives to remember and retell stories of underrepresented communities. Read the full article.