Theta Chi Society, as it was originally known, was founded at Norwich University, Norwich Vermont, at nine o’clock on April 10, 1856.
As the story goes, Fredrick Norton Freeman 1857 and Arthur Chase 1856 met in Freemen’s room in the Old South Barracks of the University and mutually took the oaths prescribed declaring each other true and accepted members of Theta Chi. From this humble beginning Theta Chi Fraternity has grown to its present status as an elite college fraternity.
The lives of the founders of Theta Chi should be interesting to us now as we turn back the pages of history nearly 150 years. The degree to which they planned and organized their original organization is remarkable.
Their foresight is attested by the fact that throughout thelong years since our founding the fundamentals of the organization, as expressed in the original constitution, to this day remain unchanged. The oaths taken by Freeman and Chase on that April evening long ago have since been shared by every man initiated into Theta Chi.
In the first decade of the Fraternity’s existence a number of serious handicaps were experienced. The Civil War greatly depleted the student body at Norwich, a military school. A fire, which destroyed most of the University, occurred in 1866. In the fire, the Old South Barracks the building where Theta Chi was founded burned to the ground, taking with it many records of the organization. Low attendance also affected the school during this time. In the fall of 1866 the school opened with only nineteen students; however Theta Chi continued to initiate new members.
In 1881, however, the student body of Norwich was reduced to only twelve members and Theta Chi had only one active undergraduate. James Holland, 1883 saved Theta Chi from possible extinction when, with the help of local alumni, he initiated two new members, thus preserving the fraternity.
With the establishment of Beta Chapter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, a new era of expansion began for Theta Chi Fraternity. Although hindered by a serious depression and two world wars, Theta Chi has grown, and prospered beyond the dreams of its founders.
Today Theta Chi is an International Fraternity with chapters at 140 different educational institutions across the United States and Canada. Nearly 150,000 men have been initiated as members of Theta Chi Fraternity and its alumni include a long list of distinguished professionals.
The current Coat of Arms of Theta Chi has been in use since 1939.