Delta Upsilon was originally found in 1834 when a group of Williams College students met for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 1834, at the Freshman Recitation Room of the West College Building to form what they would call the Social Fraternity. To these men, “social” did not refer to entertainment events, rather an interest in life’s interactions among people and how society would better itself through group action. The Founders at Williams were not the only men to like the idea of brotherhood based on merit. Soon, similar groups began to appear on other campuses, and in 1847, the Social Fraternity formed an alliance with three other non-secret groups to create the Anti-Secret Confederation (ACS). Using the motto Ouden Adelon (meaning “Nothing Secret”), these groups from Williams, Union College, Middlebury College, and Amherst College fought to advance justice and spread liberal, learned culture at a time when other fraternities fought to guard their secrets. Over the next 20 years, nine other chapters would join ACS, though several had come and gone by the 1860s. At the 1864 ACS Convention, the delegates discussed the future of the Fraternity and officially adopted the name Delta Upsilon.
The Miami Chapter’s origins begin in the fall of 1867, when John McCurdy Robinson transferred from Western Reserve to Miami University. Robinson had been initiated into the Western Reserve Chapter of Delta Upsilon and looked to expand the fraternity upon his arrival. In March of that year, the Miami Chapter of Delta Upsilon was established in Room 4 of South Dorm (now Stoddard Hall) with seven original members that then increased to 13 by June. It was at the Rutgers Convention in May of 1868 that the Miami Chapter was accepted by a unanimous vote.
The seven original members of Delta Upsilon were: John McCurdy Robinson, Louis De Vere Holmes, Charles Wright Earnist, William F. Eltzroth, John Randolph Moore, Nehemiah Wade, and Matthew Wade.
With the closure of Miami University in 1873, the Miami Chapter became an inactive chapter of Delta Upsilon for the rest of the century.
In the fall of 1903, a group of men brought together by similar associations and interests were living in South Dorm. The same forces that motivated the organization of the early Miami fraternities now moved these men to consider forming a fraternal society. While considering a Greek letter name, they called themselves the Midnight Mystics. In 1904, the name Delta Rho was selected. The men of Delta Rho began thinking of going national as soon as their society was formed. They considered four prominent fraternities: Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Upsilon, and Phi Kappa Psi. By 1907, Delta Rho decided to petition Delta Upsilon for membership. The Delta Rho’s discovered a prejudice against Western fraternities by the East and were denied by the Minnesota Convention because a unanimous decision was needed for membership.
However, after the 1907 failure, one of the charter members of the Miami Chapter, William Eltzworth of Lebanon, Ohio, at the time a trustee of Miami University, directed the strategy of the Delta Rho campaign. Mr. Eltzworth discovered that the Miami chapter had not disbanded or withdrawn, but instead was just “inactive” due to the suspension of the school in 1873. Eltzworth knew from his experience in the State Senate that reinstatement of an inactive chapter required three-fourths of the votes at the convention. It was at the Swathmore Convention of 1908 that Delta Rho was granted a charter of Delta Upsilon. Since 1908, the Miami Chapter has been a continuous presence on campus.
For more information about the Miami Chapter’s history, please read our two books.