Scroll and Key

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Scroll and Key
Formation1842; 181 years ago (1842)
TypeSecret society
HeadquartersYale University

The Scroll and Key Society is a secret society, founded in 1842 at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. It is one of the oldest Yale secret societies and reputedly the wealthiest.[1] The society is one of the reputed "Big Three" societies at Yale, along with Skull and Bones and Wolf's Head.[2] Each spring the society admits fifteen rising seniors to participate in its activities and carry on its traditions.


Facade displaying Moorish gate and patterned forecourt.

Scroll and Key was established by John Addison Porter, with aid from several members of the Class of 1842 (including Leonard Case Jr. and Theodore Runyon) and a member of the Class of 1843 (William L. Kingsley), after disputes over elections to Skull and Bones Society. Kingsley is the namesake of the alumni organization, the Kingsley Trust Association (KTA), incorporated years after the founding.

Lyman Hotchkiss Bagg wrote that "up until as recent a date as 1860, Keys had great difficulty in making up its crowd, rarely being able to secure the full fifteen upon the night of giving out its elections." However, the society was on the upswing: "the old order of things, however, has recently come to an end, and Keys is now in possession of a hall far superior...not only to Bones hall, but to any college-society hall in America."[3]

Gifts to Yale[edit]

In addition to financing its own activities, Scroll and Key has made significant donations to Yale over the years. The John Addison Porter Prize, awarded annually since 1872, and in 1917 the endowment for the founding of the Yale University Press, which has funded the publication of The Yale Shakespeare and sponsored the Yale Younger Poets Series, are gifts from "Keys".


Society pin
  • At the close of Thursday and Sunday sessions, members are known to sing the "Troubadour" song on the front steps of the Society's hall, a remnant of the tradition of public singing at Yale.[4][5] The song (written in the 1820s by Thomas Haynes Bayly) was recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford on his 1956 album, This Lusty Land, as "Gaily the Troubador".
  • In keeping with the practice of adopting secret letters or symbols such as Skull and Bones' "322," Manuscript's "344," and the Pundits' "T.B.I.Y.T.B," Scroll and Key is known to use the letters "C.S.P. and C.C.J."[6]
  • Members of the society sign letters to each other "YiT", as opposed to Skull and Bones' "yours in 322".[6]
  • Outside of its tap-related activities, the society has been known to hold two major annual events called "Z Session".[6]


Members of the 1866 delegation, Scroll and Key

Scroll and Key taps annually a delegation of fifteen, composed of men and women of the junior class, to serve the following year. Membership is offered to a diverse group of highly accomplished juniors, specifically those who have "achieved in any field, academic, extra-curricular, or personal."[7] Delegations frequently include editors of the Yale Daily News and other publications, artists and musicians, social and political activists, athletes of distinction, entrepreneurs, and high achieving scholars.[8][9]

Mark Twain is an honorary member, under the auspices of Joseph Twichell, Yale College Class of 1859.[10]


Secret Society Buildings New Haven, the original building is pictured at the bottom and has since been expanded.
The building in 1901 during its expansion

The society's "building" was designed in the Moorish Revival style by Richard Morris Hunt and constructed in 1870.[11] A later expansion was completed in 1901. Architectural historian Patrick Pinnell includes an in-depth discussion of Keys' building in his 1999 history of Yale's campus, relating the then-notable cost overruns associated with the Keys structure and its aesthetic significance within the campus landscape. Pinnell's history shares the fact that the land was purchased from another Yale secret society, Berzelius (at that time, a Sheffield Scientific School society). In 2002, the society underwent a major construction project rumored to involve an aquarium beneath the society.[citation needed]

Regarding its distinctive appearance, Pinnell noted that "19th century artists' studios commonly had exotic orientalia lying about to suggest that the painter was sophisticated, well traveled, and in touch with mysterious powers; Hunt's Scroll and Key is one instance in which the trope got turned into a building."[12] Later, undergraduates described the building as a "striped zebra Billiard Hall" in a supplement to a Yale yearbook.[13] More recently, it has been described by an undergraduate publication as being "the nicest building in all of New Haven.".[14]

Notable members[edit]

Dean Acheson, former U.S. Secretary of State and member of the 1915 delegation.
Fareed Zakaria, a prominent writer and commentator about politics and foreign affairs, was a member of the delegation of 1986.
Sargent Shriver, the American statesman and activist, was a member of the delegation of 1938.
Famed American composer and songwriter Cole Porter was a member of the Society in 1913.
American journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, memoirist and novelist Calvin Trillin.
Harvey Cushing, the "father of modern neurosurgery" and member of the delegation of 1891.
Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury Cartoonist, Scroll and Key class of 1970.
Name Yale class Known for
Leonard Case Jr. 1842 Philanthropist and Founder of Case School of Applied Science in Cleveland, later Case Western Reserve University[15]
Theodore Runyon 1842 Envoy, then Ambassador, Germany; Battle of Bull Run[15]
Carter Henry Harrison 1845 Mayor of Chicago, five terms 1879–93; US Representative, 1875–79; cousin of President William Henry Harrison[15]
Homer Sprague 1852 President of the University of North Dakota
Randall L. Gibson 1853 US Senator 1883–1892 (Louisiana); US Representative, 1872–1882; Brigadier-General in the Confederate States Army; President, Tulane University[15]
George Shiras Jr. 1853 U.S. Supreme Court Justice[15]
John Dalzell 1865 US Congress[15]
George Bird Grinnell 1870 Anthropologist, historian, naturalist, and writer [16]
Edward Salisbury Dana 1871 American mineralogist[15]
Fred Dubois 1872 First US Senator from Idaho 1891–1897, resigned, re-elected 1901–1907; Opponent of gold standard; Engineered statehood for Idaho[15]
Henry deForest 1876 Southern Pacific Railroad[15]
Gilbert Colgate 1883 President and Chairman of Colgate & Co.[15]
George Edgar Vincent 1885 President of the University of Minnesota; President of the Rockefeller Foundation[17]
James Gamble Rogers 1889 Collegiate Gothic architect, favored architect of Edward Harkness and designed many of Yale's buildings[17]
Herbert Parsons 1890 US Congress 1904–1910; leading supporter of League of Nations[15]
Harvey Cushing 1891 Neurosurgeon considered father of brain surgery[17]
William Nelson Runyon 1892 Acting Governor of New Jersey (May 1919 – Jan 1920)[15]
Frank Polk 1894 Davis Polk & Wardwell; (acting) Secretary of State, managed conclusion to World War I[15]
Allen Wardwell 1895 Russian War Relief, Davis Polk & Wardwell; Bank of New York; Vice-President, American-Russian Chamber of Commerce[15]
Lewis Sheldon 1895 US Peace Commission, Paris Peace Conference, 1918; Olympic medalist, track and field[15]
Cornelius Vanderbilt III 1895 Brigadier General in the U.S. Army during the First World War[17]
William Adams Delano 1895 Award-winning Architect; designed many of Yale's buildings[15]
Joseph Medill McCormick 1900 U.S. Senate 1919-1924; publisher, Chicago Tribune[15]
Joseph M. Patterson 1901 Founder, New York Daily News; manager, Chicago Tribune[17]
Robert R. McCormick 1903 Chicago Tribune; Kirkland & Ellis[15]
James C. Auchincloss 1908 Representative, US Congress 1943–1965, Governor of the NYSE., US Military Intelligence World War I[15]
William C. Bullitt 1912 US Ambassador, France, 1936–1941, first US Ambassador, Soviet Russia, 1933–1936[15]
Mortimer R. Proctor 1912 Governor of Vermont, 1945–47[15]
Cole Porter 1913 Entertainer, songwriter[18]
Dean Acheson 1915 51st Secretary of State[15]
Wayne Chatfield-Taylor 1916 President, Export-Import Bank; Undersecretary of Commerce; Assistant Secretary of the Treasury[19]
Dickinson W. Richards 1917 1956 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine[15]
Ethan A. H. Shepley 1918 Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis[15]
John Enders 1919 Shared 1954 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine[15]
Brewster Jennings 1920 Founder and President of the Socony Mobil Oil Company Standard Oil of New York; president, Memorial Center for Cancer and Allied Diseases and Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research[15]
Seymour H. Knox 1920 American retailer, F. W. Woolworth Company[15]
Richardson Dilworth 1921 Mayor of Philadelphia 1955–1962[20]
William Hawks 1923 Film producer[21]
James Stillman Rockefeller 1924 President and Chairman, The First National City Bank of New York; Olympic gold medal for crew[15]
Huntington D. Sheldon 1925 Central Intelligence Agency; Director of the Office of Current Intelligence; President, Petroleum Corporation of America[15]
Newbold Morris 1925 New York lawyer and politician[15]
Benjamin Spock 1925 Pediatrician and author (Baby & Child Care), antiwar activist, Olympic gold medalist[19]
John Hay Whitney 1926 U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, publisher of the New York Herald Tribune, major philanthropist to Yale University, and during his college years coined the phrase "crew cut"[22]
Frederic A. Potts 1926 Chairman, Philadelphia National Bank; New Jersey Senate; Republican candidate, New Jersey Governor[15]
Paul Mellon 1929 Philanthropist[19]
Benjamin Brewster 1929 Director, Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey (later Exxon)[15]
Raymond R. Guest 1931 US Ambassador, Ireland; Special Assistant to Secretary of Defense, 1945–47; horse breeder; polo Hall of fame[15]
Donald R. McLennan 1931 Founder and Chairman, insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan[15]
Robert F. Wagner, Jr. 1933 102nd Mayor of New York City 1954–1965
assembly person from New York City 1937–1941[23]
J. Peter Grace 1936 W. R. Grace & Co.[24]
Peter H. Dominick 1937 US Senator 1962–1974 (Colorado); US Congressman, 1960–1962; US Ambassador, Switzerland[15]
Sargent Shriver 1938 Peace Corps; 1972 Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate, Presidential Medal of Freedom[15]
Cyrus Vance 1939 57th Secretary of State; Secretary of the Army; Chairman, Federal Reserve Bank of New York[15]
Robert D. Orr 1940 Governor of Indiana; US Ambassador, Singapore[15]
Cord Meyer, Jr. 1943 Central Intelligence Agency; United World Federalists[15]
George Roy Hill 1943 1974 Academy Award for Directing, The Sting[15]
Frederick B. Dent 1944 US Secretary of Commerce[15]
John Vliet Lindsay 1944 103rd Mayor of New York City 1966–1973
Congressman from New York City 1959–1965[23]
Thomas Enders 1953 Ambassador, Spain 1983-1986, Assistant Sec. of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Ambassador to the European Union 1979-1981, Ambassador to Canada, 1976-1979; Salomon Brothers[15]
Philip B. Heymann 1954 Watergate Special Prosecutor, Deputy US Attorney General; Professor, Harvard Law School[15]
Warren Zimmermann 1956 US Ambassador, Yugoslavia, 1989–1992; author of book about the causes of Yugoslavia's dissolution[15]
Roscoe S. Suddarth 1956 President, Middle East Institute; US Ambassador to Jordan; American Iranian Council[15]
Calvin Trillin 1957 American writer[25]
A. Bartlett Giamatti 1960 19th Yale University president; National League president, MLB Commissioner[19]
Peter Beard 1961


Garry Trudeau 1970 Doonesbury Cartoonist[19]
Stone Phillips 1977 Dateline NBC[15]
Gideon Rose 1985 Foreign Affairs[15]
Fareed Zakaria 1986 Editor, Newsweek International and host of CNN show, Former Yale Corporation Member (Resigned 2012)/>
Dave Baseggio 1989 Director of Professional Scouting, Seattle Kraken, NHL
Dahlia Lithwick 1990 Editor at Newsweek and Slate[26]
Jeannie Rhee 1994 Special Council member for the Obstruction of Justice Investigation[27]
Alexandra Robbins 1998 Journalist, New York Times Bestseller[28]
Ari Shapiro 2000 Co-host of All Things Considered for National Public Radio[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jackson, Abby. "7 of Yale's super-elite secret societies ranked by wealth". Business Insider. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  2. ^ Caro, Robert (1974). The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0-394-48076-3. OCLC 834874.
  3. ^ Four years at Yale. Lyman Hotchkiss Bagg, C.C. Chatfield & co, 1871. p. 158.
  4. ^ Collision at Home Plate: The Lives of Pete Rose and Bart Giamatti. James Reston, U of Nebraska Press, 1997. p. 41. ISBN 0-8032-8964-2
  5. ^ Four years at Yale. Lyman Hotchkiss Bagg, C.C. Chatfield & co, 1871. p. 163.
  6. ^ a b c Four years at Yale. Lyman Hotchkiss Bagg, C.C. Chatfield & co, 1871. p. 157.
  7. ^ Yale University Library Digital Collections : Compound Object Viewer Archived 2011-04-30 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^, see membership lists
  9. ^ A cross-reference with recent members (available on and in print issues of the Yale Rumpus) and scholarship winners will indicate the high number of Scroll and Key members
  10. ^ Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 2, 1867–1868, University of California Press, editors Harriet E. Smith, Richatd Bucci and Lin Salamo, pg. 281
  11. ^ "Scroll and Key Tomb". June 8, 2013.
  12. ^ Pinnell, Patrick (1999). The Campus Guide: Yale University. Princeton Architectural Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-56898-167-3. Retrieved November 10, 2008.
  13. ^ Andrews, John.History of the Founding of Wolf's Head,pg. 56, Lancaster Press, 1934
  14. ^ "Franco's "little place in New Haven": where will it be? [POLL]". May 6, 2010. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au Giamatti, A. Bartlett (1978). History of Scroll and Key, 1942–1972. The Scroll and Key Society.
  16. ^ Taliaferro, John (June 4, 2019). Grinnell: America's Environmental Pioneer and His Restless Drive to Save the West. ISBN 978-1-63149-014-9.
  17. ^ a b c d e Monday, May. 31, 1926 (May 31, 1926). "Wedlock — TIME". Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2008.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Robbins, Alexandra (2002). Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Back Bay Books. ISBN 978-0-316-73561-2.
  19. ^ a b c d e "Yale's Great Oak Sees 'Tap Day' Again". The New York Times. May 21, 1915. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  20. ^ "Tap Day Exercises are held at Yale" (PDF). New York Times. May 20, 1921. Retrieved November 10, 2008.
  21. ^ "Yale 'Tap Day' Brings Honors to Rowing Men". New York Tribune. New York, N.Y. May 18, 1923. p. 9.
  22. ^ "Yale Alumni Magazine: John Hay Whitney". Yale Alumni Publications inc. May 2002. Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  23. ^ a b "Mary A. Harrison, Lawyers Fiance. Vassar Graduate Will Be Bride of John V. Lindsay, Former Lieutenant in the Navy". New York Times. October 11, 1948. p. 29. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  24. ^ "J. Peter Grace — Business Executive, leading Catholic layman, Advisor to three U.S. Presidents — dies at age 81. | Government > Government Bodies & Offices from". Archived from the original on January 8, 2009. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  25. ^ Remembering Denny – Google Books
  26. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved January 15, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ "Jeannie Rhee". Diversity Journal. Retrieved 2018-01-19, January 30, 2019
  28. ^ "Skull & Bones: The Secret Society That Unites John Kerry and President Bush". Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2007.