New University Archives Exhibit Highlights Fraternity and Sorority Life

By: Janice Schulz

In a continuing effort to showcase student life at the University of Cincinnati, the Archives and Rare Books Library has created an exhibit documenting the history of fraternities and sororities from 1882 to today. Going Greek: Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of Cincinnati offers a historical view into the development of the Greek system at UC and its growth (and growing pains) as it became a social vehicle at the University and then settled into the comfortable position it enjoys today.

Started in 1882 with the establishment of the Sigma Chi fraternity, the Greek system grew steadily in the following decades to become the primary social force at UC in the 1940s, 1950s, and into the 1960s. Political and social unrest in the 1960s forced the Greeks to redefine themselves and their values, creating a system more like what we know now. In many ways, the history of UC’s Greek system reflects events and attitudes occurring in the broader social structures in which it existed.

The exhibit offers a historical narrative, lists of all known chapters that have existed at UC, narratives and images of fraternity and sorority houses, an image gallery, and a bibliography. The Archives and Rare Books Library has several exhibits with a student life focus on its website, including Yearbooks: Turning the Pages of UC History, Clifton Magazine, and School and Country: A Survey of Student Military Life.  Additionally, we have digitized several publications related to student life including The Cincinnatian, the News Record from 1960-1970, and the Cooperative Engineer.