Phi Kappa Literary Society

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For other uses, see Phi Kappa (disambiguation).
Phi Kappa Hall circa 1933

The Phi Kappa Literary Society is a college literary society, located at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and is one of the few active literary societies left in America. Founded in 1820, the society continues to meet every academic Thursday of the Fall and Spring semesters at 7 p.m. at Phi Kappa Hall on the University of Georgia's North Campus.[1][2] The Phi Kappa Literary Society holds formal debates and a forum for creative writings and orations as well as poetry.[2]



The Society was founded by Joseph Henry Lumpkin, later to become the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia and eponym for the University of Georgia School of Law, and by William Crabbe, Edwin Mason, and Henry Mason. They formed the society after splitting from the Demosthenian Literary Society, dissatisfied with how the other society's meetings were being conducted. As Phi Kappa grew larger, makeshift meeting places were no longer appropriate or useful. Through funding provided by member Alexander Stephens, the Phi Kappa Literary Society moved into its permanent residence at Phi Kappa Hall. [3] Phi Kappa Hall was built at a cost of $5,000 and dedicated on July 5, 1836. It is the seventh-oldest building on the University of Georgia's campus,[4] and the Phi Kappa Literary Society currently shares use of the building with the Georgia Debate Union.[3]


The Phi Kappa Literary Society has disbanded and reformed many times in its history. The first occurrence in 1863 was due to student enlistment in the American Civil War, which left only five members remaining. Meetings resumed on January 5, 1866. The society flourished in the early 1900s, participating in numerous collegiate debate competitions as well as supplying members to compete in international collegiate debate contests. However, a drop in student enrollment due to World War II caused the society to disband again in 1944, and an extremely polarized atmosphere in the society and the university as a whole pulled the Phi Kappa Literary Society apart, seemingly for the final time, in 1973.[3]

After sporadic, unsuccessful attempts to revive Phi Kappa, in 1991, Stephanie Hendricks took an interest into the society after prompting from Thomas Peter Allen and was elected as its new president on January 31, 1991. Thirteen new members were inducted shortly thereafter, and the first meeting of the newly refounded society took place on February 14, 1991 in Phi Kappa Hall.[3]

Campus Involvement[edit]

The Phi Kappa Literary Society often collaborates with other on-campus or off-campus groups to hold special events. For instance, in 2013, Phi Kappa sponsored a debate between the Communist Party USA and the Libertarian Party of Georgia.[5] They have also held a book discussion in collaboration with distinguished faculty members from the University of Georgia's philosophy department,[6] and in 2011, members of Phi Kappa participated in a debate versus the renowned Oxford Union.[7] The Phi Kappa Literary Society also maintains a close relationship with The Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies at UNC-Chapel Hill.[8] Of course, their closest tie to another student organization is their 195-year-long rivalry with the Demosthenian Literary Society.[3] Each Spring semester, Phi Kappa debates the rival society in the Intersociety Debate,[3] and each Fall semester, they come together for the Intersociety Meeting.[9]

Notable Alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Ben Woodard (November 29, 2012). "Demosthenia provokes declaration of war from rival hall". The Red and Black. The Red and Black Publishing Company, Inc. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  2. ^ a b About section of official Phi Kappa website. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e f History section of Phi Kappa's official website. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
  4. ^ Jennifer Moore (March 31, 2005). "Phi Kappa Hall restoration celebrated with ceremony". Online Athens. The Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  5. ^ News section of official Phi Kappa website. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
  6. ^ Official blog of UGA's SPIA. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
  7. ^ Official blog of UGA news. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
  8. ^ Announcements section of the DiPhi official website. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
  9. ^ News section of official Phi Kappa website. Last accessed 2014-06-10.
  10. ^ Notable alumni section of official Phi Kappa website. Last accessed 2012-01-27.