The Alpha of Vermont has had a long and illustrious history since its founding in 1848. We are working on developing this section of our site. For the moment, here is an excerpt from the text of our induction ceremony that celebrates the induction of the first women and African-American members of Phi Beta Kappa:
Women were admitted to the University of Vermont in 1871. Four years later the first of their numbers were to be graduated. The Alpha of Vermont takes special pride in the resolution we passed on July 13, 1875: “in the opinion of this chapter all the graduates of this university should be eligible to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa without distinction of sex.” It was unilateral action, and we awaited no concurrence from other chapters. Two women, Eliza Hamilton and Lida Mason, were recognized for their academic achievement on that occasion and admitted to the fraternity. Other chapters have been eager to follow our precedent. For some years—if not, indeed, decades—the number of women the Alpha of Vermont initiates each year has clearly exceeded that of men.
The Alpha of Vermont has the further distinction of having elected and initiated the first African American to Phi Beta Kappa—George Washington Henderson, top of his class in 1877. The founders in Williamsburg declared that their Society should not be “confined to any particular place, Men or description of Men” but should be extended to “the Wise and Virtuous of every degree.” The Alpha of Vermont is proud to have been instrumental in two such extensions.