Originally founded in 1902 as a society called the Hot Feet, the society was known primarily for its public ceremonies in which it crowned the society's "king." The Hot Feet were disbanded in 1908 under pressure from the University's Administrative Council, who called the society "very detrimental to the University's welfare" and banned it, along with "all other organizations which promote disorder in the University." University historian Virginius Dabney records the final activity of the society as the distribution of stuffed animal specimens from the natural history museum about Grounds on Easter Sunday, and the assault of a student in his room.
The society reconstituted itself in 1913 as the IMP Society, an acronym generally believed to stand for "Incarnate Memories Prevail," and remains active to the current day.
The IMP Society has engaged in philanthropic activities around the University, including the IMP Award, given "to a faculty member who had been outstanding in promoting student-faculty relations and perpetuating the traditions of the university"; the IMP Student Athlete Award, given at graduation to a female athlete who has excelled in both the field and the classroom; and a recent student community service fellowship.
In addition to philanthropy, IMPs are known to march around the grounds carrying pitchforks, wearing horned hoods, and engaging in mild mischief and revelry. (In one 2004 incident, the group was forced to apologize after using gasoline to start a bonfire on the Lawn during a nighttime ceremony.) The society publicly "taps" its new members, and most current members wear a ring indicating their membership in the organization. While the members of the group are known, many of their community service works are not widely publicized. Like the Seven Society and Z Society, the IMP Society is known to paint their symbol around Grounds.
Members of the IMP Society are more public than other societies at the University, often recognized by their ring with the face of a devil on it, or their public tappings. Notable IMP and Hot Feet alumni include James Rogers McConnell, who was the inspiration for Gutzon Borglum's statue The Aviator.
- Bruce, Philip Alexander (1922). History of the University of Virginia: The Lengthening Shadow of One Man IV. New York: Macmillan. p. 343.
- Bruce, Philip Alexander (1922). History of the University of Virginia: The Lengthening Shadow of One Man V. New York: Macmillan. p. 283.
- Dabney, Virginius (1981). Mr. Jefferson's University: A History. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-8139-0904-X.
- Irons, Charles. "Secret Societies at the University of Virginia". Archived from the original on 2006-02-03. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Dabney, 332.
- ""All the Hoos in Hooville": Traditions". Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Khoddami, Amir (2004-02-11). "IMPs apologize for setting fire on Lawn". Cavalier Daily. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Bruce, V: 399.