Skull & Keys

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Skull & Keys circa 1899

Skull & Keys is one of the oldest men's honor society at the University of California, Berkeley.[1][2][3] The organization was started by Theta Nu Epsilon.[4]


Skull & Keys was founded in 1892 by, among others, the novelist Frank Norris.[4][5] Skull & Keys was founded as an upperclassman society for members of Theta Nu Epsilon.[2][3][4] The Zeta or Berkeley chapter of Theta Nu Epsilon was founded as a Sophomore society at Berkeley eleven years before in 1881. Skull & Keys membership was initially drawn from Senior and Junior classes at the university.[2][5]

Historically, it meets semi-monthly in a facility known only as the Tomb.[6] It is led by the Uncle, who is elected by voice vote of the active members. Invitees endure the initiation ritual known as the Running.[7][8][9]


Advertisement for the Running

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Berkeley Briefs". Los Angeles Times. November 22, 1915. Skull and Keys, one of the oldest honor societies on the campus ... 
  2. ^ a b c d "Skull and Keys Initiation; Annual Running To-Day.". The Daily Californian. November 8, 1899. Retrieved 2007-08-21. The eighth annual running of the Skull and Keys society takes place to-day on the campus. The public initiation of this dramatic society chosen from the Senior and Junior classes has come to be one of the great events of the College year. 
  3. ^ a b Baird, William Raimond (1920). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities. California, University of — Skull and Keys, 1892 
  4. ^ a b c "The Zeta & Delta Pi Chapters at The University of California at Berkeley.". Theta Nu Epsilon. Archived from the original on July 28, 2011. Retrieved 2009-05-11. In 1892, the Zeta Chapter created the society of Skull & Keys for senior members. There were probably many reasons for this, one of which is that Berkeley was known for having many of its initial personnel come from Yale, and if Berkeley had a senior society, it would have been possible to recreate the Tap Day ceremonies at Berkeley. ... However, if Theta Nu Epsilon had come from the senior society Skull & Bones, then it only made sense, (to some minds), to create a senior society from it. 
  5. ^ a b c "Frank Norris In His Chapter". Phi Gamma Delta. April 1, 1930. Archived from the original on 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Frank Norris took part in the college dramatics and would have made a name for himself upon the professional stage had he chosen that branch of art for his future career. He wrote the ritual and other ceremonials for Skull and Keys -- the junior-senior society at the University of California -- which still ranks as an honor society. 
  6. ^ "Neophytes In Front Of The Skull And Keys Tomb.". The Oakland Tribune. October 6, 1925. Berkeley; October 5, 1925. University Of California. The Elmhurst district In East Oakland volunteered to clean up the streets ... 
  7. ^ "Skull and Keys Running; Annual Initiation of the Inter-Frat Society To-Day.". The Daily Californian. November 9, 1899. Retrieved 2007-08-21. Notwithstanding the threatening state of the weather yesterday, the Skull and Keys initiates appeared on the campus at 8:30 in dress suits with duck trousers. After being put through the toils around North Hall they were marched in a body to South Hall. They were marched in to see the President, who gave them a short talk. 
  8. ^ "Running Of Skull and Keys Society Under Feminine Ban.". The Oakland Tribune. April 2, 1920. Berkeley; April 2, 1920 ... annual Running of the Skull and Keys ... 
  9. ^ "No Public Pranks This Semester by "Skull and Keys."". The Oakland Tribune. October 13, 1923. Berkeley; October 13, 1923. No "Running" of the Skull and Keys Society at the University of California this year. ...