In order to trace and understand the history of Delta Theta Phi, you must first trace the history of four other law fraternities. These are, in the chronological order of their involvement with Delta Theta Phi: Delta Phi Delta, Alpha Kappa Phi, Theta Lambda Phi, and Sigma Nu Phi. Delta Theta Phi is the result of the historic amalgamation of the first three law fraternities and a more recent merger that incorporated the fourth in to the order. The fraternity rightly dates its origin from 1900; the founding of the first of the merged fraternities. The name Delta Theta Phi was chosen because it included one letter from each of the then constituent fraternities.
History of Delta Phi Delta
Delta Phi Delta was founded at the Cleveland Law School of Baldwin-Wallace College (now Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University) in Ohio in 1900 as the Alpha Chapter, with is now the Ranney Senate of Delta Theta Phi. In 1904, Delta Phi Delta became a national fraternity by the installation of the Beta Chapter (now the Harlan-McKusick Senate) at the University of South Dakota School of Law. The fraternity’s magazine, The Syllabus, was established in 1911. The Syllabus now serves as a communication in newsletter form that is circulated to all elected members of the administrative organization.
History of Alpha Kappa Phi
Alpha Kappa Phi was started outside Chicago, Illinois in 1902. The fraternity expanded nationally in 1904 with the installation of the Beta Chapter at Illinois College of Law (now the Warvelle Senate at DePaul University College of Law).
History of Theta Lambda Phi
In 1903 at the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Theta Lambda Phi was founded with the Holmes Chapter with the permission of Justice Holmes. A representative of the West Publishing Company, on a business visit to the law school, learned of the formation of the organization and the next issue of The Docket, published by West, announced the organization of Theta Lambda Phi as a new national law fraternity. Students at the Detroit College of Law responded to the article and formed the Cooley Chapter in 1903 to truly make Theta Lambda Phi a national fraternity. In November 1903, Theta Lambda Phi started publishing The Paper Book as its official form of communication, with is still the official publication of the Fraternity and is mailed on a regular basis to all members in good standing.
History of Sigma Nu Phi
Sigma Nu Phi was founded at National University Law School in 1903 by an Act of Congress. Sigma Nu Phi originated the law review, The Adelphia Law Journal, in the spring of 1982.
Delta Theta Phi
In September of 1913, Delta Phi Delta, Alpha Kappa Phi, and Theta Lambda Phi amalgamated at the joint convention in Chicago, and Gene Quigley became the first Chancellor of Delta Theta Phi. After the consolidation of chapters of each fraternity at various schools, the fraternity then boasted 32 senates.
The governing body for the Fraternity, called the Supreme Senate, has overseen the operation of the Fraternity since 1913. The Supreme Senate was originally composed of seven elected officers until a student was added to the board to assure a more complete student representation. In the 1970s, a second student position was added.
Beginning in the 1969 Biennium, Delta Theta Phi became an International Fraternity with the first two senates to be chartered outside of the United States. These were the Pabon Senate at Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, and the deHostos Senate at the University of Puerto Rico. These were shortly followed by senates in Australia, Canada, and Iceland. During that same biennium, another then-radical issue was addressed with regard to the constitutionality of admitting women to the Fraternity. This question was brought before the fraternity at the 1971 convention at which all remaining restrictions based upon gender were stricken, like those related to race, religion, and creed had been stricken before. Immediately upon the passage of the amendment, while still assembled at convention, the first female member of Delta Theta Phi was unanimously elected to membership and was initiated.
In 1989 Delta Theta Phi merged with Sigma Nu Phi, taking all of its members into membership and gaining The Adelphia Law Journal, making Delta Theta Phi the only law fraternity in the world with its own authoritatively recognized law review.