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, John N. Drake, Erastus P. Gates, William Janes, William Kershner, Scott L. McNinch, James M. Milne, William J. Milne, Loring Olmsted, Frank E. Welles, Ara Wilkinson, and Frank Winnie.
William J. 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. The Delphic Society at Rochester was the predecessor organization to the Delphic Society at Geneseo.
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 longest history is the Epsilon chapter at SUNY Cortland which can trace its history back to the formation of the Young Men's Debating Club (YMDC) in 1847. At the time, the YMDC 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 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 where 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, two undergraduate associate chapters were formed at SUNY Delhi and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
The organization is incorporated as The Delphic Fraternity, Inc., and does business as Delphic of Gamma Sigma Tau Fraternity. Delphic of Gamma Sigma Tau Fraternity is one of the oldest independent fraternities in the country and the first official multicultural fraternity formed on the East Coast. 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 a much more in dept understanding of the history of the Delphic Fraternity, you can read the updated Delphic Fraternity History e-Book, released on April 2, 2017. It outlines the history of the fraternity from 1847 to the present day. It is a huge document so it takes some time to download. You can download a copy of the history e-book here.