From the beginning, alumni gatherings were the precursor to the modern-day General Conventions.
The first alumni gathering recorded in the History of Phi Delta Theta was the 1851 Convention in Cincinnati. Ohio Alpha created the event when there were only four chapters. Six of the seven brothers in attendance were from Miami; the other alumnus was from Indiana (Indiana Alpha).
Even though it took a few years to organize and find a use for, the first alumni clubs can be traced to Indiana in 1871, according to the Walter B. Palmer History of Phi Delta Theta.
Even though they were deemed at the 1871 Convention to be “impracticable,” alumni club gatherings became so widespread and well-attended that by 1939, fifteen pages of The Scroll were required to cover the various Founders Day events held around North America.
From the 1939–40 Volume 64,
This year’s Founders Day celebrations represent one of its most widely observed Founders Day seasons. From late February until early May, the alumni and undergraduates gathered at dinners, large and small, to pay tribute to the Six Founders and the ideals for which they stand.
Based on actual reports and conservative estimates, there is ground for stating that close to ten thousand graduate and undergraduate Phis this year attended the Fraternity’s traditional annual feast day.
As has been the custom hitherto, there have been many instances in which neighbor clubs joined in the dinner celebration. Again, this year, chapter delegations attended dinners of their nearest alumni clubs.
The observance at Indianapolis was somewhat of a state-wide dinner with nearly 100 percent registration of all Indiana chapters, rolling up a total attendance of nearly five hundred. Something of the same trend occurred at Columbus, Ohio, where, in addition to nearby chapters, the General Council, by virtue of a meeting in that city, attended. The celebration at Charleston, West Virginia, on May 4, literally and officially was state-wide, it being the annual meeting of the West Virginia State Alumni Association, the only organization of that type.
Read more in the complete listing in this issue of The Scroll.
Through the years, alumni clubs have held an important role in the life of Phi Delta Theta. The Fraternity for Life ideal of Phi Delta Theta lives through such alumni events, large and small.