Alpha Zeta Omega

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Alpha Zeta Omega
Alpha Zeta Omega crest.png
FoundedDecember 19, 1919; 103 years ago (1919-12-19)
Philadelphia College of Pharmacy
Colors  Blue and   White
NicknameAZO, Dead Mans Club
HeadquartersYorktown Heights, NY
WebsiteOfficial website

Alpha Zeta Omega (ΑΖΩ or AZO) is a co-ed, pharmaceutical professional fraternity founded on December 19, 1919. It was originally known as the Dead Men's Club.


Alpha Zeta Omega was founded in Philadelphia, at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, which is now called the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The leader and originator of this group was Ephraim G. Sless. The original members (also known as fraters) were:

  • Harry Althouse
  • Lawrence Rosenfeld
  • Morris Arkans
  • Abe M. Bernstein
  • David Champaine
  • David L. Dyen
  • Stanley Rosenfeld
  • Al Rosenfield
  • Louis Snyder
  • David Schwartz
  • Morris Shuman
  • Ephraim G. Sless
  • Joshua Zimskind

These eleven men secretly started a pharmaceutical fraternity they dubbed the Dead Men's Club. Soon after its founding, Harry Althouse was added, and as its members then numbered twelve, the group was often referred to as "The Dozen". Later, Dr. Lawrence Rosenfeld, an eminent Philadelphia bacteriologist, also became a member, but the name of "The Dozen" persisted. Because of strenuous opposition to the formation of new organizations at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science by older fraternities and clubs, the newly formed Dead Men's Club would exist as a secret society for several years.


Alpha Zeta Omega was formed for the purpose of academic support; the original stated goal was to ensure 100% graduation of its members. Members participated in a structured series of quizzes, designed and executed by the members most proficient in the particular subject under discussion. These frequent study sessions resulted in bringing together the social life of the members. In 1921, the Dead Men's Club boasted 100% graduation of its 13 members. In addition to the original goal of "100% graduation" the purpose of the Fraternity is now designated chiefly as "to spread the spirit of Fraternalism, Brotherly Love, Friendship and Good Will towards Mankind."

Fraternal government[edit]

The original constitution of AZO was drawn up by A.M. Bernstein and D.L. Dyen. Stanley Rosenfeld was elected the first "Supreme Directorum" (President) of the Fraternity. The original 13 members termed themselves the Alpha chapter. The Supreme Chapter, consisting of Supreme Officer and delegates from subordinate chapters, meet regularly twice a year in January and July. At the 1925 Convention in Newark, NJ the Philadelphia Alumni chapter was chartered, which nullified the charter of the Alpha chapter. The "Alpha" fraters therefore became charter members of the Alumni chapter of Philadelphia.

The fraternity is organized by chapters, each representing a specific pharmacy school or geographic area. chapters may be formed by undergraduates, alumni, and in some instances are "mixed"—containing both undergraduate and graduate members.

The government has alternative names for their officers which follow:

  • Directorum - President
  • Sub-Directorum - Vice President
  • Signare - Secretary
  • ExCheque - Treasurer
  • Bellarum - Sergeant of Arms [1]


Early years[edit]

After the "Dead Men's Club" graduated, the group held its first official gathering at the home of Abe M. Bernstein. It was at this time decided to change the name of the organization to "Alpha Zeta Omega Fraternity". As it was the custom at the time to use Greek letters to designate fraternities, AZO was renamed such because:

  • Alpha—the first letter in the Greek alphabet, representing the beginning of time
  • Zeta—a mnemonic of the founders names, a symbol of the link between the creation and eternity
  • Omega—the last letter of the Greek alphabet, was taken to represent the end of time.

In 1922 Alpha Zeta Omega Fraternity, Supreme Chapter, was officially incorporated under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania.

Notable events[edit]

In 1937, the Ohio River Floods caused considerable damage to pharmacies owned by several members. An emergency session of the fraternity was called and a support drive was held to assist those members' businesses that were damaged or destroyed in the flood. In 1938, plans to offer insurance to the members of the Fraternity were adopted, and when finalized, $100,000 worth of insurance was written.

In June 1946, AZO presented funds for the pharmacy of the Hadassah Memorial Hospital in Palestine. This was part of $15,000 pledged by AZO to build a pharmacy building at the hospital.

In 1956, AZO took on as its cultural program, the task of raising money for the Hebrew University in Israel. The stated goal was to raise $100,000 in 3 years, however, the fraternity surpasses its goal and raised $103,000 in just two years.

In 1961, a book titled "40 Years of AZO" was published, detailing the history of AZO. It was a 360-page, hard-cover printed volume, distributed to fraters and chapters nationwide, as well as pharmacy school libraries nationwide. Additional historical publications would follow, outlining the history of AZO from 1960 to 1970, and then again from 1970 to 1980.

In the early 1970s, AZO began admitting women as members for the first time, and thus became a co-ed fraternal organization.

In 1976, the founder of AZO, Ephraim G. Sless, died. In honor of their late founder, the membership began a campaign to establish scholarships across the USA and in Israel.

After the events of September 11, 2001, AZO started a project to benefit the Dean Street Heroes Fund, N.Y. Fire Dept., Engine Co. 219.

After the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico, where one of AZO's chapters resides, a project was started to benefit the rebuilding of the territory.


As the fraternity began to grow in its early years, it became necessary to hold a yearly convention. The first such affair took place at the Hotel Walton, Philadelphia in June 1922, with E. Fullerton Cook, Chairman of the Pharmacopoeia Revision Committee, as guest and toastmaster. At times there have been as many as 3 conventions per year. Currently, two meetings are held each year—a National Convention in July and a Regional Convention in January.

Ladies' Auxiliary[edit]

In 1939, a Ladies Auxiliaries was established at several chapters for the wives of AZO fraters, and at the Detroit Convention in 1940, a National Auxiliary was founded.


  • The AZOan—yearly publication of AZO, started in December 1922. It was originally title "Hazy-O". The first editor was Si Sless.
  • AZO Apothecary—newsletter published quarterly containing reports from national officers and subordinate chapters.


  • AZO Pin—designed by A. M. Bernstein, D.L. Dyen, M Shuman, and E.G. Sless
  • Recognition Pin (1924)
  • AZO Fraternity Shield (1924)

Collegiate chapters[edit]


  • Directorum's Cup—Established June 1926, awarded a subordinate chapter having the excellent standing each year.
  • Newspaper Cup—Awarded to subordinate chapters for chapter publications
  • Meritorious Award—Awarded to a member with "long and distinguished activity on behalf of the Fraternity"
  • Supreme Undergraduate Award—Awarded to exceptional undergraduates one a year at conventions
  • Achievement Medal—Awarded to a person (not necessarily a member) for "long and meritorious service to the Profession of Pharmacy"
  • Order of the Double Star—Awarded to a member "who attain positions of respect and importance within the Profession of Pharmacy"
  • E. G. Sless Award—Awarded to a member "who have given years of long and distinguished service to AZO on the chapter level"
  • S. I. Sless Award—Awarded to an undergraduate member for undergraduate service to AZO

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alpha Zeta Omega | Pharmacy Fraternity". alphazetaomega. Retrieved 2019-09-26.
  2. ^ AZO Fraternity Is Disbanding (referring to the Louisville chapter)
  1. Boonshoft, Jerome; Robert Kirschner (July 1960). 40 Years of AZO. Artype Press, Inc. pp. 1–353.
  2. Kirschner, Robert; Seth Cohen; Morton Smith. "The History of AZO, 1919-Present". Archived from the original on 11 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  3. "Alpha Zeta Omega".