The F.H.C. Society was founded at the College of William and Mary on November 11, 1750, and faded away in the 1770s (after 1772).
There are letters to and from St. George Tucker concerning the FHC and the secret society's members. The FHC was particularly active in the pre-Revolutionary era. Tucker kept in contact with his FHC colleagues, and his correspondence reflects an enduring fellowship after he officially left the College. Note in particular William Nelson, Jr.'s letter hoping in 1779 for a revival of the FHC during the turbulent times of the war. Nelson quotes the purpose of the FHC as "charity, friendship, and science."
In the early nineteenth century with its reverence for the Revolution, founding fathers, glories of the 18th century, etc., several people wrote to Thomas Jefferson concerning the F.H.C. and his membership in the "ancient" collegiate fraternity. Jefferson's letter to Thomas McAuley recalls a casual relationship with the F.H.C. during the years he was at the College of William and Mary (1760-1762). (Thomas Jefferson to Thomas McAuley, June 14, 1819, Mss 39.1 J35, Lot 2 item 238 Folder 4.)
A student group invoking the original FHC was revived on September 30, 1920, and was commonly referred to as the Flat Hat Club. The organization again faded away, this time during World War II. The last known meeting in the 1940s was in 1943. The early twentieth century incarnation of the group was not a secret society, but was regularly included in the Colonial Echo yearbook and the student newspaper The Flat Hat. In 1943, the society was placed in charge of the Rumor Bureau at the College of William and Mary.
The organization's initials likely stand for the Latin phrases "Fraternitas, Humanitas, et Cognitio" or "Fraternitas Humanitas Cognitioque" (two different renderings of "Brotherhood, Humanity, and Knowledge") (Jack Morpurgo, Their Majesties' Royall Colledge : William and Mary in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries).
Robert David Bacher, 1969/1973
John Stewart Bryan, President of the College of William and Mary, 1934-1943
Julian A.C. Chandler, no. 1083, President of the College of William and Mary, 1919-1934
Harold Lees Fowler, no. 1170, history professor, 1934-1974, initiated 1938 (see news clipping in Subject File)
Herbert L. Ganter, class of 1927, Law 1930, College archivist 1948 to 1974
William George Guy, class of 1924, chemistry professor, 1925-1968
Thomas Gwatkin (according to The Flat Hat Vol. 1 no. 1, 3 October 1911
Thomas Jefferson, circa 1760-1762
J. Wilfred Lambert, no. 1148, class of 1927, psychology professor and administrator, 1930-1973
Bathurst Daingerfield Peachy, Jr., WM 1914
Robert Storm, Class of 1973, president of the FHC 1972-1973
Earl Gregg Swem, no. 1087, College librarian 1920-1944
Dyckman W. Vermilye, class of 1943
Herbert Young, no. 1121, 1937-1941
Roscoe C. Young, student 1906-1910, summer faculty 1913-1915, faculty 1919-1944
Material in the Special Collections Research Center
- Fifteen Sermons Preached at Rolls Chapel..., Joseph Butler, London: Printed for J. and P. Knapton, 1749. Gift of the twentieth-century F.H.C. Society to illustrate the group’s eighteenth-century library.
- System of Moral Philosophy, Henry Grove, Association with College William and Mary(2ndFl) BJ1005 .G9 v. 1. From the libraries of Lt. Col. James Innes, a College of William and Mary student, F.H.C. member, and instructor, later an aide to General George Washington and Virginia Attorney General; and Robert Dinwiddie, Virginia colonial governor.
- A System of Moral Philosophy..., Francis Hutcheson, Tucker-Coleman B1500 .A2 1755. This book is from the library of St. George Tucker and includes his signature. This title was in the eighteenth-century library of the F.H.C.
Books About the FHC
- The Flat Hat Club and the Phi Beta Kappa Society, edited by George P. Coleman, Call Number: Archives LJ 75 P29 W75, copies also available in Rare Books. The Archives copy was a gift of George P. Coleman.
- James Innes and His Brothers of the FHC by Jane Carson, Call Number: Archives F234 W7 C3449. Manuscript copy of.
- In Token of Friendship by Robert W. Storm, Jr., Call Number: Archives LJ 41 C63 s8. Storm, class of 1973, was one of the key figures behind the revival of the F.H.C. in 1972 and was president of the organization in 1972-1973.
Manuscript and Archives Collections
- F.H.C. Society Collection, contains F.H.C. Society certificates, news clippings and articles, correspondence, and a lecture about St. George Tucker that was read before the F.H.C.
- University Archives Oral History Collection, Box 3, see pages 20-21 of the transcript of the interview of Yelverton Kent.
- University Archives Artifact Collection, FHC medals of: Harold Lees Fowler (history professor, 1934-1974); Earl Gregg Swem (College librarian 1920-1944); Dyckman W. Vermilye (class of 1943); a medal that was a gift of Otis Geddy; William George Guy (class of 1924, Chemistry Professor, 1925-1968); and J. Wilfred Lambert (class of 1927, Psychology Professor and administrator, 1930-1974).
- Letters to and from St. George Tucker concerning the FHC and the secret society's members. The FHC was particularly active in the pre-Revolutionary era. Tucker kept in contact with his FHC colleagues, and his correspondence reflects an enduring fellowship after he officially left the College. Note in particular William Nelson, Jr.'s letter hoping in 1779 for a revival of the FHC during the turbulent times of the war. Nelson quotes the purpose of the FHC as "charity, friendship, and science." Tucker Coleman Collection. The specific letters are:
- March 19, 1774: mentions Innes, Yates, and Jones were members
- September 7, 1777: Letter from Innes to Tucker
- March 30, 1779: William Nelson, Jr.'s letter hoping for a revival of the FHC during the turbulent times of the war. Nelson quotes the purpose of the FHC as "charity, friendship, and science." [http
- July 29, 1781: "...I hope we shall live to see peace take place one day or another when, 'tis my opinion, we should all meet & fix on some mode to perpetuate the F.H.C. establishment, which ought never to be suffered to fall to th ground for its principles are such as may be productive of much good to society."
- October 8, 1783: "...he is one I think of our F.H.C."
- June 7, 1773: "...of the many agreeable hours I have spent in th worthy Society which I have the honour of being a member of..."
- In the early nineteenth century with its reverence for the Revolution, founding fathers, glories of the 18th century, etc., several people wrote to Jefferson concerning the F.H.C. and his membership in the "ancient" collegiate fraternity. Jefferson's letter to Thomas McAuley recalls a casual relationship with the F.H.C. during the years he was at the College of William and Mary (1760-1762). Thomas Jefferson to Thomas McAuley, June 14, 1819, Mss 39.1 J35, Lot 2 item 238 Folder 4. Copies are available in the Subject File. This image is available via the library catalog. To view more Jefferson letters:
- In the catalog, select "Click Here For Advanced Search"
- Enter Thomas Jefferson in the "Everything" field
- If desired, add a second "Everything" field and enter the desired correspondent's name or search term in the field
- Select "Manuscripts" as the location.
- Click "Search"
- In the record, click "Click Here" in the Electronic Access field
- A new window will pop up, click "Page 1" to see Jefferson's letter.
- Jack E. Morpugo Papers, research material gathered for publications.
- Robert Hunt Land Papers, research material gathered for publications.
- See also College of William and Mary administrative records such as the Office of the President, Office of the Dean of Students, etc. for references to the organization. To search for further material, see Finding Materials in the SCRC for an introduction to the SCRC Collections Database, card catalogs, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, etc.
- Colonial Echo yearbook
Articles in The Flat Hat
Various articles in the student newspaper The Flat Hat; when discussing the 18th F.H.C. Society the articles over time are of varying accuracy. An index to The Flat Hat is available in the Special Collections Research Center and the newspaper is available online. (FH refers to articles in the Flat Hat, which are available online; AG in the below list refers to articles in the Alumni Gazette which are available only in Swem Library).
- Origin of the name of the Flat Hat Club, FH, 2/13/12, 1
- New members elected at second meeting, FH, 10/15/20, 1.
- Talks given, FH, 11/19/20, 3.
- Meets; discusses literary societies; discription (sic) of club purpose, FH, 12/11/20, 3.
- L. J. Gilliland and C.S. Moorman host, FH, 1/15/21, 1.
- Prof. Gooch addresses club on ‘Life at Oxford,’ FH, 3/5/21, 3.
- Second meeting of the new year, FH, 10/ 14/ 21, 1, 6/
- Matters discussed; elect new members, FH 11/14/21, 1, 7.
- New members elected FH, 3/2/1923, 7.
- First meeting of year FH, 10/19/1923, 1.
- Elects new members FH, 11/2/1923, 1.
- Five new members FH, 10/10/1924, 1.
- Initiates five new members FH, 1/23/1925, 4.
- Takes first step in policy of reorganization; history given FH, 4/17/1925, 1, 6.
- Offers prize for news story FH, 10/9/1925, 1.
- Initiation FH, 11/13/1925, 3.
- Secret society organized in 1750 FH, 10/1/1926, 1, 8.
- To remain local despite national interest FH, 10/15/1926, 6.
- Celebrates founders day FH, 11/11/1927, 7.
- Holds banquet FH, 11/18/1927, 2.
- Nine new men announced FH, 11/16/1928, 1, 8.
- The Inquiring Reporter: joint deposit file for activity records during summer FH, 3/8/1929, 5.
- Sponsors joint deposit file FH, 3/8/1929, 5.
- To reward reporter for best story FH, 4/12/1929, 6.
- To preserve records of honor societies FH, 11/1/1929, 4.
- Chooses seven new initiates FH, 1/16/1930, 1, 12.
- Meets FH, 3/21/1930, 2.
- Holds first meeting of the year FH, 10/17/1930, 10.
- Holds semi-monthly meeting FH, 12/12/1930, 7.
- Six men initiated at annual service FH, 12/19/1930, 1, 9.
- Holds meeting FH, 3/13/1931, 2.
- Holds meeting FH, 5/8/1931, 5.
- Elects officers FH, 5/19/1931, 11.
- Holds first meeting FH, 11/3/1931, 7.
- To initiate three FH, 12/1/1931, 1, 4.
- To initiate three at fall banquet FH, 12/8/1931, 1, 6.
- Resumes activities for year FH, 11/22/1932, 1.
- Plans election of junior members FH, 3/21/1933, 1.
- Plans to announce initiates FH, 3/28/1933, 2.
- Gives bids to six juniors FH, 4/4/1933, 1, 2.
- Editorial: a distinguished honor FH, 4/4/1933, 4.
- Held first meeting FH, 10/3/1933, 1, 8.
- Planning extensive program for Homecoming FH, 10/10/1933, 5.
- Elects six outstanding men FH, 3/13/1934, 1, 8.
- Picks seven men for new membership FH, 3/20/1934, 1, 2 (picture)
- Staged banquet for initiates FH, 4/10/1934, 5.
- Six men elected members FH, 5/7/1935, 1, 2.
- History FH, 10/8/1935, 1, 6.
- Club Notes: elects officers FH, 10/8/1935, 2.
- Chooses six new members FH, 12/10/1935, 1; FH, 12/17/1935, 1.
- Alumni Gazette features a story on establishment FH, 1/14/1936, 1, 2.
- History AG, 1/1936, 1, 4.
- F.H.C. Society bids six leading juniors FH, 1/12/1937, 1.
- Seven men initiated at F.H.C. Ceremony FH, 5/18/1937, 5.
- Announces pledging six leading juniors FH, 11/9/1937, 1.
- Elects seven; oldest club in U.S. FH, 10/18/1938, 1.
- Holds initiation FH, 11/ 22/1938, 1.
- F.H.C. selects six socially prominent junior men to ranks; is country’s oldest undergrad club FH, 10/31/1939, 1 (picture)
- Selects six new members FH, 11/19/1940 1 (picture).
- Oldest club initiates six new juniors FH, 11/18/1941, 2.
- Another rumor? F.H.C. board debunks them FH, 2/9/1943, 5.
- Selects six junior men FH, 11/10/1943, 1, 5.
- Student medal displayed AG, Dec. 1958, 16-17 (picture)
- Medal returns to College FH, 1/13/1959, 6.
- December 1958 Revived 40.2: 4c-d
- Wikipedia entry.
In the News
- Various articles in the College of William and Mary student newspaper The Flat Hat; see also other student publications.
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