Records of the Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity
Scope and Content Note
The bulk of these records were generated, received and collected by the Executive Secretary, Grand Superior, other national officers and Chapter Superiors of PEP. The national officers most prevalent in these records (whose names below are followed by their most active years as national leaders in parentheses) are Jesse Acker (1912-1919), Maurice Jacobs (1921-1944), Louis M. Fushan (1927-1937), Samuel Sherman (1937-1945), and Paul Spiwak (1947-1954). Documentation is strongest between 1912 and 1957 and fairly scant in the 1960s. Materials include correspondence, reports, minutes, clippings, serial publications, photographs, pins, financial records, floor plans, manuals, and directories.
The collection represents a cross-section of Jewish male culture on U.S. college campuses in the first half of the 20th century. Major subjects that surface include black-Jewish relations, military service in WWI and WWI, and WWII refugee aid (in Series I, Subseries 5 in particular), as well as educational, housing and occupational discrimination, and on the lighter side, college dating life. Humor is present throughout the collection, especially in Series II and Series IV.
- Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity (Organization)
The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.
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The Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity was established on November 23, 1904 at the College of the City of New York (CCNY). Phi Epsilon Pi (PEP) was incorporated in New York State on February 9, 1914 and became a member of the National Interfraternity Conference in 1921. The fraternity was founded on non-sectarian principles, but throughout the organization’s history, the membership was predominantly Jewish.
The fraternity’s first chapters were founded at CCNY (Alpha, 1904), Columbia University (Beta, 1905), and Cornell University (Epsilon, 1911). In 1913, the fraternity began expanding outside of New York State. By 1933, PEP’s total membership stood at 3600. When the U.S. entered WWII, approximately 2000 fraternity members served in the military, and most chapters closed. Following the war, the chapters were reactivated, and new chapters opened as well, including one at McGill University in Canada, making PEP an international fraternity. In 1954, the membership of the fraternity reached 11,132.
In 1970, PEP was absorbed into the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.
“History and Purpose of Phi Epsilon Pi,” 1925-1941; Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity Records; I-76; Box 1, Folder 5.
“Pledge Manuals”; Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity Records; I-76; Box 47, Folder 5-6.
Sanua, Marianne R. “Jewish College Fraternities in the United States, 1895-1968: An Overview.” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Winter 2000), p. 3-42.
28 Linear Feet (51 manuscript boxes, 3 half-size manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box [OS1])
Language of Materials
The Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity, active between 1904 and 1970 with a predominantly Jewish membership, was established in New York City and eventually opened at least 48 chapters on college campuses across the U.S. and one in Canada. The bulk of the records in this collection were generated, received and collected by the national fraternity officers between 1912 and the late 1950s. Topics represented include black-Jewish relations, military service in WWI and WWII, educational, housing and occupational discrimination, and WWII refugee aid. Materials consist of correspondence, reports, minutes, clippings, serial publications, photographs, pins, financial records, floor plans, manuals, and directories.
- Series I: National Executive Committee, Grand Council and National Office, 1912-1964
- Subseries 1: Constitution and History, 1912-1954
- Subseries 2: Grand Council Meeting Minutes, 1915-1958
- Subseries 3: National Officers' Reports, 1921-1957
- Subseries 4: Correspondence, 1912-1964
- Subsubseries A: General, 1912-1958
- Subsubseries B: Mass Mailings, 1912-1949
- Subsubseries C: Members, 1914-1964
- Subseries 5: Committees and Activities, 1917-1963
- Subseries 6: Grand Conventions, 1916-1960
- Subseries 7: Membership, 1931-1958
- Subseries 8: Finances, 1923-1959
- Series II: Chapters, 1912-1957
- Series III: Regional Provinces and Conclaves, 1919-1928, 1939, 1947-1957
- Series IV: Publications, Manuals and Directories, 1915-1969
- Series V: Ephemera, 1922-1955
- Series VI: Oversized Materials, 1923-1958
- Series VII: Photographs, 1922-1957
AJHS received these records in two donations. On behalf of Phi Epsilon Pi, Robert L. Adler, who had been a Grand Councillor of the fraternity from 1948 to 1950, donated the records in May 1972 (accession # 1972.001), and the fraternity's former Executive Secretary and Grand Superior Maurice Jacobs donated his complete set of Phi Epsilon Pi Quarterly and Phi Epsilon Pi manuals and handbooks in April 1975 (accession # 1975.017).
A previous archivist arranged the collection and created a box list. In 2011 Rachel Miller added collection- , series- and subseries-level description, enhanced folder names, added dates, reconfigured the intellectual arrangement scheme without changing the previous archivist's physical arrangement (excepting the photographs now in Box 55 instead of Box 54 and a few shifts necessitated by size in Series IV: Publications, Manuals and Directories), refoldered and reboxed the collection, and encoded the finding aid in EAD 2002.
- Acker, Jesse
- African Americans -- Relations with Jews
- Antisemitism -- United States
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Discrimination in education
- Ephemera (general object genre)
- Financial records
- Fushan, Lou
- Greek letter societies
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
- Jacobs, Maurice, 1896-1984
- Manuals (instructional materials)
- Minutes (administrative records)
- Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity
- Sachar, Abram Leon, 1899-1993
- Serials (publications)
- Sherman, Samuel
- Spiwak, Paul
- Students -- United States
- United States
- Universities and colleges -- United States
- World War, 1914-1918 -- Personal narratives
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives
- World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees
- Guide to the Records of the Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity, 1912-1969 I-76
- Processed by Rachel Miller
- © 2011
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany
- June 2012: - Rachel Miller added I-396 to Related Material field.
- January 2021: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.