The Delphic Society was founded on October 13, 1871, at the Geneseo Normal School in upstate New York (today SUNY Geneseo.) The founding members of the literary debating society were John B. Abbott, Charles W. Barney, Lewis E. Coe, John N. Drake, William S. Janes, William S. Kershner, Scott L. McNinch, James M. Milne, Loring Olmsted, Frank E. Welles, Charles S. Wilbur, Ara Wilkinson, and Frank A. Winnie.
William James Milne, the first principal of the Geneseo Normal School, was instrumental in the founding of the Delphic Society at Geneseo. While an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, Milne was a member of the Delphic Society at Rochester. He participated in the literary society's last public debate in 1866. He later became a professor at the Brockport Normal School (today SUNY Brockport) where he was an honorary member of the Gamma Sigma Society. William Milne wanted to provide students at the Geneseo Normal School with a literary societal experience similar to the one he participated in while at Rochester and Brockport.
The Delphic Society at Rochester, which was founded in 1850, was the predecessor organization to the Delphic Society at Geneseo founded in 1871. With affiliations at other normal schools, the college literary society at Geneseo became known as The Delphic Fraternity. Delphic eventually became a statewide fraternity with chapters at Oneonta, Jamaica, Cortland, New Paltz, Plattsburgh, Potsdam, NY, and Mansfield, Pennsylvania.
The Delphic chapter with the earliest recorded history was the Epsilon Chapter at SUNY Cortland which was founded as a debating club in 1842 and boasted of being one of the oldest debating clubs in the United States.
By the late 1930s, only the Zeta Chapter at SUNY New Paltz remained officially active.
The historic Zeta Chapter of Delphic was founded at the New Paltz Normal School in 1899. In the 1950s, the chapter had a brief affiliation with the national organization of Sigma Tau Gamma. In 1962, the organization became a legal not-for-profit membership entity by initially incorporating in the State of New York as The Delphic Fraternity of New Paltz, Inc.
In the early 1970s, because of turbulent times and the decline of student interest in Greek life, the chapter became inactive. In the fall of 1986, twelve young men became interested in re-establishing the Delphic Fraternity. They were also interested in creating the first multicultural Greek-letter organization at SUNY New Paltz. At the time, only predominantly white and predominantly black organizations existed on campus.
Of the twelve men interested in re-establishing Delphic, five were white, five were Latino, one was African-American and one was Asian-American. With hard work and determination, the group reactivated a historic organization and created the most culturally diverse fraternity at New Paltz. On March 11, 1987, the College at New Paltz fully recognized Delphic of Gamma Sigma Tau Fraternity.
Since 1987, the fraternity has promoted multiculturalism via community events, workshops and forums, and relationships with culturally diverse student and Greek letter organizations. We have also incorporated multicultural themes into our membership process and actively recruit members of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Since the 1960s Delphic brothers have culturally been of African, Asian, Caribbean, Eurasian, European, Latino, and Middle Eastern descent.
In 2003, the Theta Chapter at Binghamton University was founded, becoming the first Delphic chapter established in the 21st century. In 2009 the Kappa Chapter was formed at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. making it the first chapter to be chartered outside the Northeast Region.
In 2014, the Tau Alpha and Tau Beta Graduate Chapters were formed in New York City and Washington, D.C. In 2016, an undergraduate associate chapter was formed at SUNY Delhi. In 2019, the Tau Gamma Graduate Chapter was formed in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The organization is incorporated today as The Delphic Fraternity, Inc., and does business as Delphic of Gamma Sigma Tau Fraternity. We are pioneers in the concept of multicultural Greek life and will continue to promote our Delphic history and the idea of multiculturalism well into the 21st century.
For an in-depth chronicle of the Delphic Fraternity, you can download a copy of the 150th Anniversary Edition of the Delphic Fraternity History e-Book here.