Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity: A Centennial Celebration


The seven Cornell students who formed Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity were Henry Arthur Callis A.B. ’09, Charles Henry Chapman, Special Agriculture Student ’06, Eugene Kinckle Jones, M.A. ’08, George Biddle Kelley, Civil Engineering degree ’08, Nathaniel Allison Murray B.S. ’11, Robert Harold Ogle, Special Agriculture Student, and Vertner Woodson Tandy, Special Architecture Student. They are known as the “Seven Jewels.”

In honor of the fraternity’s founders and their role in forever expanding the definition of brotherhood for black college-educated men, on November 19, 2005, over 700 members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. embarked on a pilgrimage to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, home of the Alpha Chapter, the mother seat of the fraternity, to kick off the fraternity’s Centennial Celebration. This Pilgrimage was only the second time that the fraternity has sojourned to Ithaca as a whole body. In 1956, during the Fiftieth Anniversary celebration in Buffalo, 700 Alpha Phi Alpha men came to Ithaca by train. The 2005 Pilgrimage comprised many activities, including tours, a silent march, an academic convocation, and a reception. To commemorate the event, Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, home to Alpha’s founding records, hosted an exhibit of Alpha Phi Alpha materials. This online exhibit of full-text documents represents the electronic version of the one displayed during the Pilgrimage. The exhibit was re-mounted on April 1, 2006, for Alpha Phi Alpha members attending the fraternity’s Eastern Regional Convention, held in Rochester, New York.

The featured materials are based on the records of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity’s first chapter, the Alpha Chapter, and the interactions of its members with Cornell, the growing fraternity, the community at large, and each other. All of the records are from the Division’s collections, including the Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Chapter records, the Galvin Family papers, the Burt Green Wilder papers, and the Cornell University Archives.

Alpha Phi Alpha General Presidents at Centennial Memorial site, Cornell University Campus. [view]

Photograph by Jeff Lewis.

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