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Yale Skull and Bones

October 16, 2013 by  

Yale Skull and Bones, Skull and Bones is an undergraduate senior secret society at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. It is the oldest senior class landed society at Yale. The society’s alumni organization, the Russell Trust Association, owns the society’s real estate and oversees the organization. The society is known informally as “Bones”, and members are known as “Bonesmen”.

Skull and Bones was founded in 1832 after a dispute between Yale debating societies Linonia, Brothers in Unity, and the Calliopean Society over that season’s Phi Beta Kappa awards. It was co-founded by William Huntington Russell and Alphonso Taft as “the Order of the Scull and Bones”.

The society’s assets are managed by the society’s alumni organization, the Russell Trust Association, incorporated in 1856 and named after the Bones co-founder. The association was founded by Russell and Daniel Coit Gilman, a Skull and Bones member, and later president of the University of California, first president of Johns Hopkins University, and the founding president of the Carnegie Institution.

The first extended description of Skull and Bones, published in 1871 by Lyman Bagg in his book Four Years at Yale, noted that “the mystery now attending its existence forms the one great enigma which college gossip never tires of discussing.”

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