Book and Snake

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Members of the 1888 Delegation
The Book and Snake Tomb in 2005

The Society of Book and Snake (incorporated as the Stone Trust Corporation)[1] is the fourth oldest secret society at Yale University and was the first society to induct women into its delegation. Book and Snake was founded at the Sheffield Scientific School in 1863 as a three-year society bearing the Greek letters Sigma Delta Chi.[2] As other "Sheff" societies, it was once residential and maintained a separate residential "cloister" at 1 Hillhouse Ave, which was built in 1888 and deeded to Yale after the institution of the residential college system. Members who lived in the society residence, or "Cloister," become the Cloister Club.[3][4][5] Today, the building is the Yale University Provost's Office. A plaque honoring the society can be found on the first floor of the building. The Book and Snake emblem is a book surrounded by the ouroboros.

Like other landed Yale societies, Book and Snake owns its own meeting hall, or "tomb" at the corner of Grove St. and High St. As is tradition with the meeting places of Yale secret societies, the building is windowless and is usually available only to the current members and alumni. The society hosts invite-only parties for other members of the senior class to attend.

Architects of the Book & Snake Buildings[edit]

The Book and Snake Tomb stands at the corner of Grove St. and High St. in New Haven, CT, adjacent to the Yale Law School and the Beinecke Plaza. It was designed by Louis R. Metcalfe (1901), in Greek Ionic style. The front door is modeled after the Erechtheion Temple on the Acropolis in Athens. Passersby will notice wrought-iron snakes, or "caduceuses" adorning the iron fence surrounding the property. The white marble temple, startling in its Classical Greek verisimilitude, is deliberately situated with its back to the Yale campus; instead its orientation facing directly across the street to the massive Egyptian-revival gates of the Grove Street Cemetery, makes for an impressive display of ancient, mortuary-themed solemnity. The building stands approximately sixty feet (18 m) long, forty-two feet (13 m) wide and about forty feet (12 m) feet high, including two stories and gable, the whole of Vermont marble, cut smooth. Four Ionic pillars, also of marble, shield the bronze doors. (Citation at [1]).

The former meeting place of Book and Snake was a residential hall of the Sheffield Scientific School known as the "Cloister". H. Edwards Ficken designed the building (1888). Today, the "Cloister" serves as the Yale University Provost's Office at 1 Hillhouse Ave. Citation and picture at [2] and at [3].)

Notable members[edit]

  • Bill Nelson, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator (nominated by President Biden), former United States Senator from Florida
Bill Nelson

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Guide to the Stone Trust Corporation, Yale University, Records RU 856
  2. ^ This local Greek-named chapter existed for approximately 15 years until its name change, per Stone Trust Cooperative records, accessed 21 Aug 2021.
  3. ^ Guide to the Stone Trust Corporation, Yale University, Records RU 856
  4. ^ The oldest traditional fraternities (~junior societies) at Yale named their buildings with "Hall" nicknames, by which they wished to be known on campus: Thus Sigma Delta Chi (local) was renamed the Cloister Club which soon became Book and Snake. Similarly, Theta Xi's chapter was Franklin Hall. Phi Sigma Kappa adopted the name Sachem Hall, Delta Psi adopted the name St. Anthony Hall which spread to their entire small but old national fraternity, Chi Delta Theta (local literary honorary) established the Manuscript Society, Phi Gamma Delta was Vernon Hall which later became Myth and Sword, Chi Phi was York Hall, Psi Upsilon became the Fence Club, and finally, Delta Phi was known at Yale as St. Elmo's.
  5. ^ Tombs and Taps: An inside look at Yale's Fraternities, Sororities and Societies, accessed 14 April 2014
  6. ^ Robbins, Alexandra (11 May 2012). "All the Protégé's Men". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-21. Retrieved 2014-04-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Yale Manuscript Library
  9. ^ "Frank Hinkey".
  10. ^ " Cox, Simon "Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction", Simon and Schuster (2009)
  11. ^ Cox, Simon "" Decoding The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Expert Guide to the Facts Behind the Fiction", Simon and Schuster (2009)
  12. ^ Francis, Arthur Morius (February 20, 2015). Secret Societies Vol. 3: The Collegiate Secret Societies of America. p. 34. ISBN 978-1312932852.