Founded: June 15, 1850 April 4, 1911
Distinguished Merit Award
In 1847 a student at Amherst was charged with establishing a chapter there, but faculty opposition prevented the attempt, and no known charter was given to that expansion attempt. Early records of the Alpha Chapter as well as inter-fraternity publications relied upon by Baird in 1879, indicate that on June 15, 1850, the Beta Chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi was established at Harvard University. No records or roster of the early Beta Chapter have survived, and no college records of fraternity affiliations were kept at Harvard in that era. Thus the membership and duration of the old Beta Chapter are likely forever shrouded in mystery. No members of the chapter are known to have participated in the affairs of Alpha Sigma Phi outside of their chapter. A ban by Harvard on fraternity affiliations in 1856 would have brought the chapter to an end at Harvard within a short time thereafter, if the chapter survived to that date.
In 1911 Wayne M. Musgrave, doing graduate work at Harvard University, was able to revive the Beta Chapter. It was re-chartered on April 4, 1911. Its first "house" was at 44 Church Street, but that structure had no dormitory facilities. In 1917 the chapter moved to larger quarters at 54 Dunster Street.
The college system and Harvard traditions made local "eating clubs" more prestigious than national fraternities. When the growth of the fraternity system at Harvard through the 1920's did not change this hierarchy at Harvard University, undergraduates at Beta attempted to take the chapter local in 1924. They failed at that time as a result of efforts of Chapter President Lawrence S. Apsey, Harvard '22. However, a repeat effort to take the group local in 1931 was successful, and Beta Chapter became the '54 Club'. The charter of Beta Chapter was suspended November 18, 1932, and no efforts have been made to re-enter Harvard. There are 362 names on the roster.
Carl Croson, Harvard '11, was the installing officer for Mu Chapter in 1912, and served as Grand Marshal from 1915 to 1919. Charles Trafford, Harvard '12, served as Grand Treasurer from 1919 to 1921. Three Beta Chapter alumni have received the Distinguished Merit Award of Alpha Sigma Phi: Ralph S. Damon, Harvard '16; Hon. Robert G. Wilson, Harvard '12; and Dr. Winfred Overholser, Harvard '12 in 1950, 1951, and 1959, respectively. Three members of Beta Chapter have received the Delta Beta Xi Award.
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