Alpha Delta Phi was the first national Greek letter fraternity to establish a chapter at Amherst. It developed from an original nucleus of eleven members of the class of 1837, who organized in September 1835, under the name of Iota Pi Kappa to promote the study of history. Iota Pi Kappa was not destined to long life, for in September 1836, there arrived in Amherst two delegates from the Yale Chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi, who, having gained the good graces of the members of Iota Pi Kappa, proposed that Iota Pi Kappa change its name and constitution to that of the Alpha Delta Phi. Finally, after two or three months of debate, during which time nearly all the members of Iota Pi Kappa were one by one initiated into Alpha Delta Phi, an agreement was reached (“duobus exceptis”) to discard the constitution of Iota Pi Kappa and to adopt that of Alpha Delta Phi. The first meeting of the new Chapter was held on Monday, January 9, 1837. The charter members of the Amherst Chapter numbered seventeen members of the classes of 1837 and 1838.
The history of the Chapter has been on whole one of well-ordered growth and development. During the first five years of the Chapter’s history its membership was confined to the Senior and Junior classes. But the advent of another fraternity in 1841 compelled the admission of the sophomores and freshmen. From then until 1946 the Chapter consisted of members of all four classes, chosen, for the most part, at the beginning of freshmen year. Until 1879, however, the two lower delegations did not wear the badge of the Fraternity.
In 1874, a chapter house was purchased and the Chapter took possession of its new property in August 1875. This Chapter house was the first in Amherst.
The great fire on the morning of July 4, 1879, which swept away the business part of the Amherst, did not spare Alpha Delta Phi; but the Chapter had the good fortune to save all its records. A new chapter house was built (1889-1890), occupying a commanding situation near the old house. In 1929 on this same piece of property another and larger home was constructed.
While the fraternities were dormant during World War II the Alumni Council, Faculty and Trustees made a study of conditions, with the cooperation of representatives of all the fraternities. As a result, after the war the fraternities were allowed by the Trustees to reopen in the fall of 1945.
Following a concerned effort by the alumni Brothers to renovate the physical condition of the chapter house and to reestablish successful rushing, initiations were renewed in the fall of 1946, and the Chapter continued to flourish and was once again the pre-eminent fraternity at Amherst College.
In 1976, Amherst College accepted its first women undergraduates. In 1978, the Chapter pledged its first group of women. Although many doubted the wisdom of the decision, it was only two years later that the College’s Board of Trustees required all Amherst fraternities to admit women.
In 1985, Amherst College banned all fraternities. The Fraternity withdrew its Charter at the International Convention in August 1989.
In 2002 Alpha Delta Phi was approached by an outstanding group of young men from Amherst College. After many phone interviews with Fraternity President Edward J. Donahue, JH 1968, and multiple visits by Assistant Exec. Director Cray J. Coppins III, K 2001, the Board of Governors unanimously voted to initiate the group into the mysteries of the Alpha Delta Phi, thus re-establishing the Fraternity at Amherst College.