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The club was informally referred to as the Flat Hat Club and some of its most prominent members included St. The second-oldest secret society recorded in North America is Phi Beta Kappa, founded in 1776 by students at the College of William and Mary inspired by the F. Those secrets were exposed in the mid-1830s by students at Harvard University acting under the patronage of John Quincy Adams.
Since the 1840s, Phi Beta Kappa has operated openly as an academic honor society.
On a publicly announced evening, Yale undergraduates would assemble informally in the College Yard.
Current members of Yale's secret societies would walk through the crowd and literally tap a prospective member on the shoulder and then walk with him up to the tapped man's dorm room.
Some of these frankly state that they are honoraries, other seek to perpetuate the image of a continuing active society where there is none.
Many such societies exist which operate as honoraries on one campus, and which may have been at one time actual meeting societies, and which are kept alive by one or two dedicated local alumni or an alumni affairs or Dean's office person, who see to it that an annual initiation are held every year.
Virtually all the oldest honoraries were once clearly secret societies, and to the extent that they are distinct now is at least ambiguous.
The first collegiate secret society recorded in North America is that of the F. C Society, established on November 11, 1750 at The College of William & Mary. The Phi Beta Kappa society had a rudimentary initiation and maintained an uncertain level of secrecy.
For example, many societies have two part names, such as Skull and Bones or Scroll and Key.
Many societies also limit their membership to a specific numerical limit in a class year.