Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Haverford College Triangle Society was a student group founded in 1892 consisting at first of only five close friends who wished to give their friendship a "tangible form." The group's initial purpose deviated little from performing secret tasks, holding private meetings of mysterious conversations, and initiating new members. As the group grew and gained momentum, its mission evolved to be more centrally focused on the betterment and general support of the College and its student body. This involved leading by example by a strict expectation of dressing well and attending as many campus-wide events as possible. Members of the Triangle Society were expected to participate or at least attend any and all sporting events. The Society established an influential social presence on campus through the hosting of dinners, parties, and various other activities such as basketball games and golf outings.
Secrecy was a major pillar of the Triangle Society, which did not make it particularly well-liked by the college administration at various points in time. Members would communicate in specific algorithms and developed a suite of secret rites performed throughout each school year. The initiation ceremony and the Triangle procedure for electing their administration caused perhaps the biggest controversies on campus. Though the initiation ceremony took on several permutations over the course of Triangle history, it involved at worst staging deaths of those who had revealed Triangle secrets, and at best involved an elaborately scripted performance piece in their ornamental Atrium space. It at times butted heads with the other major society on campus, Beta Rho Sigma, and it was the tension between the two groups which inevitably caught the attention of the administration. Though allowed to continue well into the 20th century, the college administrative intervention in the 1950s required both groups to relinquish a good portion of their secrecy.
Ultimately the presence of the Triangle Society was preserved due in large to its extensive and devoted alumni network. Membership was not free, and Triangle members continued to give money to the society well after graduation in order to support scholarship funds and various other campus projects. The Triangle Society worked to improve the campus garden, to acquire a collection of clocks to install around campus, and made donations of books and other objects to enrich the library's collection. The society produced an annual bulletin reporting on the history of the Triangle Society and the actions of current and former Triangle members, as a means of communicating with the larger community. The Triangle Society continued its activity around campus until 1972, accruing a diverse and elaborate suite of traditions passed on through its history.
This collection contains a variety of different materials and spans nearly a century of operation of the Triangle Society. Minute books (1909-1972) kept by the Secretary and the Board of Governors are present as bound volumes and folders of unbound pages. Financial records include the Report of the Treasurer, checkbooks, bills, receipts, and records of the life insurance project. The administration of the Triangle Society kept detailed records of their operation through the Report of the President, the Report of the Secretary, and by keeping ballots and other notes from elections. There are several sets of documents related to Triangle interaction with the larger Haverford community, including communication about and with Beta Rho Sigma, documents regarding the "fraternity issue" with the administration, and various correspondence. Documents regarding membership include the attendance book, roll calls, bound directories, lists or bulletins of new members, correspondence between members and various administrators relating to their membership status, and alumni documents which include include minutes, correspondence, discussion of gifts, and records of donations.
As one of its primary activities, the Triangle Society released a series of publications that were distributed around campus. The society's major publication was the Triangle Bulletin which released both regular editions and some special editions. Other publications include various announcements and the bound volume of the History of the Haverford College Triangle Society which contains versions of the Triangle Bulletin as well as other historical background on the society's origins. There are various documents related to social events hosted by the society, including invitations, correspondence, programs, and banquet menus. Documents that track the elaborate collection of Triangle traditions include papers related to initiation, music ("rhymes and ditties"), and tags with the Triangle emblem. Miscellaneous materials include newspaper clippings, photographs, and a scrapbook.
This collection is arranged and described in nine series.
- Series I. Administration
- Series II. Membership
- Series III. Minutes
- Series IV. Financial records
- Series V. Publications
- Series VI. Events
- Series VII. Traditions
- Series VIII. Beta Rho Sigma
- Series IX. Miscellaneous
Processed by Grace Thiele and Alexandra Stern; completed February, 2019.
- Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- Grace Thiele and Alexandra Stern
- Finding Aid Date
- February, 2019
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).