AD Folklore

The Alpha Delta Fraternity House


Introduction – Our group set out to uncover the vast amount of folklore and mystery surrounding the once thriving Dartmouth fraternity, Alpha Delta (AD). Recent changes on campus including but not limited to an expanded S&S presence and increased restrictions on numerous fraternities make this an interesting topic for most students. Folklore emphasizes lack of authorship and the existence of many variants and variations, and we wanted to discover what rituals and traditions this Fraternity once had or still has. The Brothers Grimm saw fairytales as a method of communicating apparent social and cultural values to high and low brow culture. After the fraternity was derecognized last year, a centuries worth of traditions and folklore vanished along with its members. Our team set out to discover if the fraternity had any special traditions and rituals, and we tried to remain objective given all the media and other attention the fraternity has received. Through the interview and research process, we hoped to unearth past and old traditions and folklore that have forged long lasting and enduring bonds between generations of Adelphians. Our analysis hopes to shed light on the deeper meaning of behind this folklore and how the organization’s principles and traditions may continue to influence the lives of the last remaining members. Due to AD-community members being unwilling to share intimate details about their organization, we conducted anonymous interviews with members and non-members, upper and underclassmen community members with varying knowledge of and experience with the Fraternity, and independent research of material from popular and mainstream media sources. Our goal was to unearth enough folklore to get a relatively comprehensive sense of the AD community and culture.


Dartmouth AD Folklore Items:

Passage to Sphynx from AD

Shaking Out

The HOP Challenge



IM Sports


Animal House


Rites of Passage – Arnold van Gennep’s three stages of Separation, Transition, and Incorporation are very relevant to AD and the rituals we unearthed. “When men shake out at the Fraternity and are granted membership, they from that moment on agree to influence and be influenced by the Organization. They commit to joining a new family and take on all the roles that comes with that. But they are not obviously fully incorporated into the Brotherhood in the sense that they have just joined and cannot possibly fathom all the values and rituals the brotherhood has in place. Rituals are thus designed to elevate certain values among new members. The Hop Challenge, for instance, is grueling and painful, but also very funny and very informative because throughout the whole process you are told two things: first that there is no justice in the world and each individual must be strong enough to face the world alone; and second that brotherhood and friendship should be held in the highest esteem such that if one man happens to fall, you can help him up. Through this challenge, we become closer to our friends through shared experiences and values that inform future actions.”

Reality to Myth – The recent de-recognition of the Alpha Delta fraternity by the Dartmouth Administration and the subsequent zoning debacles resulted in a loss of recreational and economic use of the physical Alpha Delta house. This process has been on-going since Fall of 2014, and subsequently the upperclassmen have been able to experience the active AD whereas underclassmen have not. This shift in transparency has contributed to the shifting of AD from reality to myth. Many of our AD interviewees highlight that Animal House‘s well-known reputation and the fact that numerous media outlets write about AD have both contributed to the conversion of AD from reality to myth because they perpetuate exaggerated, misleading, or stereotypical accounts that do not paint an accurate picture.

Conclusion – The goal for our collection project was to unearth enough folklore to get a relatively comprehensive sense of the AD community and culture. The traditions that we discovered suggest that the Alpha Delta fraternity primarily values its brotherhood above all else. The items outlined above all have one thing in common: they promote socialization and bonding among members in a variety of ways and through a variety of methods, leading us to the conclusion that AD folklore is centered around community building. Dartmouth is a place where you make your home for 4 years, and AD’s rituals, based on our samples, appear to focus primarily upon bonding within the brotherhood and with the rest of campus. We wish we were able to gather more information from older generations of Alpha Deltas as well as current members, but unfortunately many were unwilling to be very open with us.


Names of the collectors – Jake Landman, James Fisch, Sebastian Lim, Luis Marin, Sam Siegel

Informant Release Forms -Release Forms Link: