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Turtle Mound Society records

 Collection
Identifier: AC 108

Scope and Contents

The collection contains financial information, correspondence, reports, rosters, constitutions and By-Laws, secretarial meeting-minutes, and a Turtle Mound Society pin dated from approximately 1917.

Dates

  • 1901-1975

Access to Collection

This collection is open for research; however, certain materials are very fragile and require Archives staff for handling, or use may be restricted altogether.

Biographical / Historical

The Turtle Mound Society first emerged in 1901, the first local and non-Greek secret student organization at Beloit College. The original founders were Ralph Bell, Ithel Davies, Lucius Porter, von Ogden Vogt, Erville Woods and Wirt Wright, all of the Beloit College class of 1901. Purposely designed to function sub-rosa, the stated purpose of the society was the "furthering of the high ideals and standards of the College, the passing on to succeeding generations of students the Beloit Spirit, and the promotion of loyalty to the College which would rise above partisan and fraternity lines." The founders felt that maintaining anonymity would allow members to pursue the society's aims most effectively and expediently. As such, members throughout the society's history kept their identities secret until the close of their senior year.

In their early days, The Turtle Mound Society published a controversial underground newspaper entitled The Beloit Student, also known as the "Yellow Sheet," which challenged the current student governing body and had a significant effect on The Round Table of the time. Apart from a brief period of inactivity during World War II, the self-perpetuating group convened continuously until their last meeting on July 15, 1975, by taking an average of eight senior men into membership annually.

Students initiated into the society were to be elected unanimously, and were selected on the basis of reputation and demonstration of leadership qualities. The society first went co-ed in January 1971. Perhaps the most prominent features of the Turtle Mound Society were the trademark anonymity that accompanied TMS membership, and the similarly covert means of activity- the group maintained secrecy until The Gold publication of 1943, in which members' identities were revealed for the first time in the society's history following faculty recognition.

Starting with President Brannon in November 1917, Beloit College presidents acted in an advisory capacity to the group, with the TMS serving as advisors to the president in return. At many times, TMS conducted their nighttime meetings at the President's House.

Beloit College presidents have been among the members of the group have been since the society originated—Irving Maurer was a member as an undergraduate, and Edward D. Eaton, Melvin Brannon, Carey Croneis, and Miller Upton elected as honorary members. Many senior members went on to join Beloit College faculty and staff or Board of Trustees. Famous members have included Lucius C. Porter, Walter Strong and Walter Strong Jr., W. Willard Wirtz, Robben Fleming, Edward R. Burke, Michael Young, and others.

Extent

.5 linear feet (3 boxes)

Overview

The Turtle Mound Society was founded in 1901. Originally composed of 5-8 senior men, the sub-rosa organization's purpose was the "furthering of the high ideals and standards of the College." Initiates were selected on the basis of reputation and demonstration of leadership qualities. This collection contains meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, member lists, initiation procedures, the Society constitution, by-laws, initiation procedure, and photographs.

Arrangement

This collection has been compiled over the years through separate accessions of various sizes from various offices and individuals, none of which has any accompanying documentation. The original order of the documents is unknown. The arrangement order presented here has been imposed by the College Archives staff.
Title
Turtle Mound Society Records
Status
Completed
Author
Genevieve Gideonse, last revision by Stacey Erdman
Date
January 2017
Language of description
Finding Aid Written In English

Repository Details

Part of the Beloit College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
700 College St.
Beloit WI 53511 USA
608-363-2485