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Records of the Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity

 Collection
Identifier: I-76

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.

Dates

  • 1912-1969

Creator

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Historical Note

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.

References

“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.

Extent

28 Linear Feet (51 manuscript boxes, 3 half-size manuscript boxes, 1 oversized box [OS1])

Language of Materials

English

Hebrew

Abstract

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.

Acquisition Information

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).

Related Material

There are more Phi Epsilon Pi chapter-related materials in the special collections and university archives of individual academic institutions, for example the Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity Gamma Chapter Records at the Northwestern University Archives.

There is Phi Epsilon Pi-related correspondence in the Abram L. Sachar Hillel Papers at Brandeis University.

AJHS holds small amounts of material from the following other fraternities and sororities: Pi Lambda Phi (I-398), Phi Lambda Kappa (I-396), Alpha Omega (I-343), Alpha Epsilon Phi (I-489), Mu Sigma (I-390), Kappa Nu (I-384), Zeta Beta Tau (I-420) and Sigma Alpha Mu (I-402).

AJHS also has the papers of Phi Epsilon Pi's former Executive Secretary and Grand Superior Maurice Jacobs (P-916).

Processing Information

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.
Title
Guide to the Records of the Phi Epsilon Pi Fraternity, 1912-1969   I-76
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Rachel Miller
Date
© 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Sponsor
Described and encoded as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany

Revision Statements

  • June 2012: - Rachel Miller added I-396 to Related Material field.
  • January 2021: RJohnstone: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States