The first chapter of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity was founded on May 30, 1879 at Russell Military Academy in New Haven, Connecticut, by F. Harvey Smith. Known, at the time, as the "Society of Kappa Psi," the fraternity existed as a secret organization which helped teammates come together after a strenuous football game against Cheshire Military Academy. After the two teams met again on November 30, 1879, a second chapter was established at Cheshire Military Academy. Unfortunately, these two chapters were eventually forced to disband in 1899.
In 1894, a group of students attending Hillhouse Academy in New Haven, Connecticut thought of forming a secret society of their own. They consulted with F. Harvey Smith and his father, David Smith, and a third chapter was installed on October 7, 1894. This chapter dissolved when all of its members graduated on June 30, 1895.
The idea of making this society into a national organization developed in the minds of several of its members. In the fall of 1885, alumni from the three chapters came together and established the Alpha Chapter. The Alpha Chapter was comprised of all alumni from the original three chapters that were interested in joining. F. Harvey Smith was made Grand Alpha, with Preston W. Eldridge, Jr., Lewis Bishop, and Lewis Oakley along side him as officers. The officers held meetings until 1899, and, during that time, they made plans to establish collegiate chapters in some of the schools that members were expected to attend.
The first collegiate chapter was established in the fall of 1898 by William F. Clark at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine at Baltimore. This was designated as the Delta Chapter. Around the same time, Albert Kaehrle and his brother entered Columbus University, College of Pharmacy. They installed the Gamma Chapter there on November 20, 1898. Preston Eldridge, Jr. and William F. Clark installed the third collegiate chapter, Beta Chapter, at the University College of Medicine at Richmond, Virginia on March 31, 1900.
In 1902, the group realized that in order to give legal status to the organization that they should be incorporated. The objectives listed in the application for incorporation were the basis for the fraternity's current objectives. After approval occurred, the group became known as Kappa Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. This fraternity existed as a joint medical-pharmaceutical fraternity, even though most of the original effort was made to charter chapters in medical schools.
Kappa Psi continued to grow rapidly over the next 15 years, until World War I threatened the strength of the fraternity. Membership was cut due to the enlistment of many members into the armed forces. Luckily, in the years following the war, developments for reorganization of Kappa Psi were in motion. One of the ideas for reorganization was to split Kappa Psi between medical and pharmacy members. While many thought that the fraternity helped to unite the two professions into cooperation, many others recognized that each field of study was branching out into its own. In 1924, the two groups officially split. The pharmacy group maintained all of the existing names and offices, including the Kappa Psi name, the offices of Regent and Vice Regent, and the "The Mask" as the journal. The medical group became known as Theta Kappa Psi Medical Fraternity, their officers were known as Prytan and Vice Prytan, and the journal was known as "The Messenger." At the time of reorganization, there were 32 active medical chapters and 27 active pharmacy chapters.
Another threat to membership came in the form of World War II, which had a far greater impact on the fraternities than World War I. By 1944, classes in medical and pharmacy schools were at their lowest levels in history, reducing the numbers in both fraternities. There was also some uncertainty about how people would feel about fraternities when they came back. However, when the men came back, pharmacy became the profession of choice for veterans. Pharmacy schools grew to capacity, and Kappa Psi experienced its largest period of growth in history.
The growth of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity has not waned since then. At the time of the Centennial Celebration of the fraternity in 1979, there were 61 active collegiate chapters and 35 active graduate chapters. Kappa Psi has also fostered growth through the admittance of women and has benefited from the transition of a 5-year pharmacy program to a 6-year program. Currently, there are 80 active collegiate chapters and 59 active graduate chapters with over 85,000 members. Kappa Psi has benefited from change in the past and will continue to grow stronger through its changes in the future.
All information about Kappa Psi history was taken from the National Kappa Psi website. For more information, please visit http://www.kappapsi.org/national/preston/content?p=history.