The first student organization, a literary society, was founded.  The following June, the students wrote: “We all met as strangers, unclassified, and inexperienced in college life.  There were no societies, literary, social and athletic…”  Professor Henry Buckham agreed to be the society’s president until elections could be held, and President Raymond was elected to lead the group in its first year.  “We do not mean to insinuate anything about weakness trying to prop itself up with strength,” the group noted the following year, and by 1868 all administration of the society was in student hands, where it has remained.

At first called Philalethia—for Greek: “truth-loving”—the group arranged lectures, held chapter meetings and presented a festivity in June. In 1890, when someone discovered that “Philalethia” didn’t exist in Greek, the name was changed to the current “Philaletheis.” In time the organization had several “chapters,” each with a distinctive emphasis.

The student paper, The Transcript, reported that chapter meetings were devoted to “essays, poems, debates, selections prose or poetical, either read or recited, papers, music, impromptu speaking, dramatic performances, political news, and gossip varied at the discretion of the President.”  By the early 1870s dramatic activities predominated, and this remains the focus of the modern organization.     Vivian Gurney ’15, “Philaletheis,” The Vassar Miscellany, Vassar 1865-1915, From the Undergraduate Point of View, Fiftieth Anniversary Number