P&G Marks 125 Years
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Purple and Gold first appeared in November of 1883. The concept of a magazine for Chi Psi, however, had been discussed for some time prior to that. In October 1846, the Brothers at Wesleyan wrote to the Brothers at Bowdoin College expressing concern that two other fraternities at Wesleyan were planning to start a periodical and that it would hurt Chi Psi’s reputation on campus if they were not the first to start something. Alpha Alpha proposed that each Alpha elect an editor and submit a report to them for publication in a magazine to be titled the Chi Psi Review. However, Alpha Alpha’s proposal drew very little support and soon died.
No more was heard concerning a publication for Chi Psi until the Convention of 1882. This Convention appointed a committee to canvass the Fraternity and report to the Convention of 1883 as to the advisability of establishing of a magazine by the Fraternity.
It is interesting to note the attitude which the various Alphas took toward the proposition. Mu was "decidedly in favor of starting a paper.” Phi was "In favor and ready to give her assistance.” Epsilon voted "most emphatically against it.” Beta was "favorable,” Gamma – "strongly in favor,” Chi was "decidedly against.” Tau "favored the idea,” Iota was "very much in favor,” Nu found itself "ready and willing to aid the project,” and Theta was "decidedly opposed.”
A report based on the above was made to the Convention of 1883 and the following was approved: "That Chi Psi establish and maintain a fraternity paper.” The matter was referred to a committee that reported, "We recommend that it be published in pamphlet form, cost to be limited to $75 an issue of 250 copies, and to be paid by subscriptions of one dollar per annum. We advise that the journal be called The Purple and Gold and be issued on the first day of the months of October, February, and June of each year.”
Thus the first issue of The Purple and Gold appeared in November of 1883. The first volume of the P&G was controlled by an editorial board of undergraduates from Hamilton, Amherst, and Rutgers. They ran the following editorial in the first issue of the magazine as their statement of purpose:
Chi Psi has reached another milestone on the road of her history. It marks a long stretch of progress, made with a steady advance, and betokens even better results for the future. Let us inquire into the truth of this statement.
When a society issues a paper devoted entirely to her interests, it proclaims the fact that it is doing deeds worth chronicling, that its members are moved by an earnest desire to better know each other’s actions and feelings, that they seek a closer union and fellowship. Were there not some more tangible bond than that of sincere friendship however strong that might be, still there would be a tendency to isolation among the various Alphas. One Alpha, seeming to itself to be accomplishing its destined work faithfully and well, would gradually become absorbed in self, and so cease to look into the doings of Alphas hundreds of miles away.
And now having reached this advanced position, let us ask what our future is to be. That depends entirely on ourselves. Chi Psi has a good record behind – one of which she need never feel ashamed. It is our duty not only to maintain that record, but to put it far to the front.
Our first and prime object is to bring all Chi Psis, graduates or non-graduates, into a more intimate knowledge of the doings and success of every Alpha north, east, south and west. In this way one Alpha may learn the lessons of another’s success and profit therefrom, and may, if necessary, help that other in its failings. The graduate, thus, who has seen many years of service in the outer world, may see here reflected something of his own college days, when Chi Psi was just struggling into that strong and active life that has characterized her ever since: that the non-graduate, with all his life before him, may receive a measure of inspiration from the example of his older brethren.
And now having thus briefly stated our hopes and objects, we send our first issue forth, with the hope that The Purple and Gold may become an institution of Chi Psi as fixed as her name, and that future Chi Psis may take up the work and carry it on with renewed earnestness and success long after the present writers shall have ceased to wield the editorial pen.
The first issue of The Purple and Gold received many responses from around the country expressing overwhelming approval for the magazine. In its first years, the magazine watched closely what other fraternity magazines were doing. Chi Psi was a strong advocate of magazine exchanges between fraternities and encouraged all of the Alphas to subscribe to the magazines of the other national fraternities. "The literary worth of the other fraternity magazines is high,” said one of the early P&G writers in an editorial about some of the other fraternity magazines. However, the idea of exchanges came to a halt when the 1887 Convention declared The Purple and Gold a secret publication and stopped all exchanges with other magazines. This policy was reversed some years later and exchanges were resumed.
The magazine successfully continued until 1892 when publication was halted for lack of interest on the part of potential editors and lack of funds. Publication was resumed in 1897 and has been continuous since that time, with three or four issues printed each year.
The literary nature of the magazine that The Purple and Gold prided itself on being in the early years has changed with the times, but the essentials – such as Alpha reports and alumni news – are still there, along with articles on history and fraternal concerns.