The years between World War I and into the 1960s were the heyday for student organizations and activities in American college and universities. This letter sweater belonged to a member of one of many such organizations – Phi Epsilon Phi, an “honorary pep society” for men at the University of Denver (DU). The “Phi Eps” were active from the 1930s through the 1950s. Together with the “Parakeets,” (the equivalent organization for DU women), the “Phi Eps” supported the DU football team, organized student activities like picnics and dances, and engaged in philanthropic works.
Each year, new members in this organization (and several others) were initiated into the organization through a ritual known as “tapping,” where existing members would physically “tap” a new member on the shoulder in a public place – usually Buchtel Memorial Chapel – signifying their membership in the organization in front of the student body.
- R.L. Geiger, The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding until WWII. Princeton University Press, copyright 2015 (electronic book).
- Browse all of the digitized University of Denver yearbooks in Digital DU, our digital repository.
- Visit Special Collections and Archives and peruse the “D-Book,” an orientation handbook for new DU students. The D-book contains descriptions of the traditions and organizations active during the years that the handbooks were published.