Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity: A Centennial Celebration
The Early Alpha Chapter And Her Members, 1907-1930
The Purpose of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity:
To promote a more perfect union among college men; to aid in and insist upon the personal progress of its members; to further brotherly love and a fraternal spirit within the organization; to discountenance evil; to destroy all prejudices; to preserve the sanctity of the home, the personification of virtue and the chastity of woman.
From the preamble to the Alpha Phi Alpha Constitution
After the founding of Alpha Chapter and the establishment of a foundation and an infrastructure, the fraternity steadily grew and expanded throughout the various regions of the United States and beyond. As the founders and other early members of Alpha Chapter helped to formulate chapters outside of Cornell, they named them in the order of the Greek alphabet. Beta chapter at Howard University was established in 1907, Gamma chapter at Virginia Union University in 1908, and Delta Chapter at the University of Toronto also in 1908. With four chapters only two years after its founding, Alpha Phi Alpha held its first General Convention in 1908 at Howard University in Washington, DC. As a result of this convention, Alpha Chapter relinquished governing power to the General Convention and General officers were elected. Although the transfer of governing power meant that Alpha Chapter was considered one part of the body and not the head of the fraternity, the founding chapter was still highly esteemed.
For Alpha Chapter, the 1910s, in particular, were marked by internal struggles, introspection, and a self-conscious awareness of the chapter’s place in fraternity history. At times, the chapter’s numbers fluctuated and members challenged each other to rise to the level of the ideals set by the founders. Despite the challenges of the time, Alpha chapter remained home to some of the most distinguished and influential leaders in the fraternity and in the nation.