Skip to main content

Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), 1830-

Identifier: F10.III

Scope and Contents

This collection is divided into two series: (I) records and (II) publications produced by Phi Beta Kappa at Middlebury College.

Records include account books, bylaws, minutes, addresses given at ceremonies, and, primarily, correspondence. Records are arranged depending upon the individual by whom they were produced: Stephen Freeman (secretary/president of the society from approx. 1936-1970) and Eric L. Davis (PBK secretary from 1980-1993). The first three folders of Series I (Records), Box 1 contain the Freeman correspondence. The Davis correspondence is interspersed throughout Series I, Boxes 2-4.

Publications include The Key Reporter (1953-1977), handbooks for new members (1938-1970) and programs from banquet and initiation ceremonies. Publications are arranged chronogically.


  • Majority of material found within 1830-


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish materials, contact: Special Collections & Archives Middlebury College Phone: (802) 443-2387 Email:

Biographical / Historical

Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest academic honor society. The first chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established at the College of William and Mary in 1776. The Middlebury College chapter, the Beta chapter of Vermont, was established in 1868. Middlebury's is the 13th oldest Phi Beta Kappa chapter in existence, and was one of the founding members of the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa in 1883. The PBK correspondence from 1929- The PBK correspondence from 1980-1994 are the records generated by Eric L. Davis, who was secretary of the PBK Society. Davis was hired as Middlebury College Professor of Political Science in 1980, and was Secretary of the College from 1997-2004. He became emeritus in 2008. As one of the "charter chapters," the Middlebury chapter is free to establish its own criteria for the election of students to Phi Beta Kappa, and is not governed by election rules established by the national society. The members of the Middlebury chapter are those members of the Middlebury faculty who were themselves elected to Phi Beta Kappa by their undergraduate institutions.

Each year the Middlebury chapter elects up to 10% of the senior class to membership in Phi Beta Kappa: 2% of the class is elected in August, on the basis of six semesters' work, and up to an additional 8% is elected in May, on the basis of work completed over eight semesters.

Eligibility for election to Phi Beta Kappa is determined on the basis of those grades reported on the Middlebury College transcript. By vote of the Middlebury faculty, since Fall Term 2003, the following grades have been included on the transcript: Middlebury College courses taught during the academic year in Middlebury, VT; Middlebury College courses taught in the Middlebury Language Schools or any of the campuses of the Bread Loaf School of English; Middlebury College courses taught at the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad; courses taught in other approved programs of off-campus study.

In order to be eligible for election in August, students must have completed six consecutive semesters at Middlebury College, the C.V. Starr-Middlebury Schools Abroad, or other approved programs of off-campus study, and they must have accumulated at least 27 college credits toward the B.A. degree.

Students who complete their degree requirements in February are considered for election to Phi Beta Kappa the following May, and are notified of their election on the Thursday afternoon prior to Commencement.

Transfer students are eligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa in May, provided they have taken at least 18 courses at Middlebury College.

There is no absolute GPA cutoff for eligibility, and since the basis for election is no more than 10% of the graduating class, the minimum GPA needed for election to Phi Beta Kappa is not stipulated in any given year. Any student who has been subject to official College discipline for academic or non-academic reasons is ineligible for election to Phi Beta Kappa.


5 Boxes

Language of Materials


Processing Information

Transcripts and invoices were removed during processing.

Repository Details

Part of the Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives Repository

Middlebury College
Davis Family Library
110 Storrs Avenue
Middlebury Vermont 05753 United States