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Dartmouth College. United Fraternity



Social fraternities at Dartmouth College grew out of a tradition of student literary societies that began in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The first such society at Dartmouth, the Social Friends, was formed in 1783. A rival organization, called the United Fraternity, was founded in 1786. These organizations were, in large part, the only social life available to students at the college. The organizations hosted debates on a variety of topics not encountered in the curriculum of the day, and amassed large libraries of titles not found in the official College library. Both the Social Friends and the United Fraternity created libraries in Dartmouth Hall, and met in a room called Society Hall inside Dartmouth Hall. In 1815, the college decided to intervene in the hotly contested recruitment battle between the Social Friends and the United Fraternity by restricting each society to recruit only from separate halves of the new student class. In 1825, the college began simply assigning new students to one society or the other. Interest in the literary societies declined in the 1830s and 1840s.