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.

Members of Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, pictured in the 1957 Cap and Gown yearbook

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.

1949 Inter-Fraternity Sing featuring members of Iota Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. (University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf4-01433)

 

 

 

1930 University of Chicago Track Team. Kappa Alpha Psi member, Truman K. Gibson, Jr., is pictured in the front row, far right. Gibson went on to be an attorney and advisor to President Harry S. Truman. He was instrumental in the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces. (University of Chicago Photographic Archive, apf5-03829)

Mr. Williams’ article is an excellent example of the use of archives to remember and retell stories of underrepresented communities. Read the full article.

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