Theta Chi was founded as the Theta Chi Society on April 10, 1856, at Norwich University, by two military cadets: Frederick Norton Freeman and Arthur Chase.
Freeman and Chase met in Freeman’s room of the University’s Old South Barracks, and after taking oaths and declaring each other “true and accepted members” of the Society, Chase was elected President and Freeman was elected Secretary. The next evening, Freeman and Chase initiated two more cadets: Edward Bancroft Williston and Lorenzo Potter.
In its first decade, the Fraternity faced many challenges. First, because Norwich was a military school, the University lost a large number of cadets to the Civil War. Second, a massive fire erupted on the Norwich campus in the spring of 1866, destroying the many of the Fraternity’s historical records.
Between the aftermath of the war, the fire, and the general uncertainty regarding the University’s future, enrollment at Norwich dropped dramatically. In 1881, the student body of Norwich was comprised of 12 students, and Theta Chi found itself with only one active member, James M. Holland. Holland, with the help of local alumni, managed to keep the Fraternity afloat by recruiting two new initiates.
After 1888 the affairs of the University took a decided turn for the better, and Alpha chapter flourished at Norwich.
~GROWTH IN THE 20TH CENTURY~
From the very beginning, Theta Chi’s founders intended for the Fraternity to be national in scope.
On December 13, 1902 the Beta Chapter was formed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Spearheaded by Brother Park V. Perkins, Theta Chi’s arrival at MIT launched a new era for the Fraternity.
The early 1900s was a period of rapid expansion. Although hindered by the Great Depression and two world wars, Theta Chi grew and prospered in ways far beyond what even its founders had envisioned. At the 75th Anniversary Convention in 1931, the Fraternity erected a granite monument with a bronze plaque in Norwich, Vermont, to commemorate its founding.
If our Founders could see us today, they would surely be proud of what they saw. Over 175,000 men have been initiated into the Fraternity since its founding.