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Mortar Board records

Identifier: AC 76

Scope and Contents

This collection is divided into two series: one of general files kept by the student society members and the other from the files of Ruth Peterson, former Registrar of Beloit College and adviser to Mortar Board.

The General Information series is arranged alphabetically by subject, and contains financial information, correspondence, reports, rosters, constitutions, event materials, and scrapbooks. Of particular note are the documents surrounding Senior Bench's petition to become a chapter of Mortar Board in 1951.

Ruth Peterson kept many documents as adviser to Mortar Board for over 13 years. Included in her series are local chapter member lists, event planning documents, meeting minutes, financial information, and internal and external correspondence. At least half of her files are materials sent from the national organization to all chapter advisers such as handbooks alumni relations information, The Forum (national Mortar Board publication) issues.


  • 1937-2010, bulk 1951-2000

Access to Collection

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

Biographical / Historical

The origins of the Beloit College chapter of the Mortar Board Society appear to come from a group called Golden Taper, formed in 1926. It was an honor society for senior women, and "members [were] elected on a basis of scholarship, leadership, and service to the college," all of which are characteristics embraced by Mortar Board.

Later, a group called the Royal Order of Senior Bench, named after the 1908 senior class gift, was established, and modeled themselves explicitly after Mortar Board. According to the official "tapping ritual," "the purpose of Senior Bench was to recognize individual achievement in activities, and to bring into one group the leaders of organizations, to cooperate with the administration and faculty in a furtherance of constructive college activities." Senior Bench mirrored the qualities of Omicron Delta Kappa, an upperclass men's version of the same organization, and indeed the two groups often cooperated on planning events.

In 1951, Senior Bench petitioned and was accepted to become an official Beloit College chapter of the national organization, Mortar Board, the United States' first all-female honor society. The organization became coed in 1975 following the passage of Title IX.

At least since the 1970s, Mortar Board has helped organize Nine O'Clock Scholars events, as well as other symposiums, lecture series, and charity fundraising events.


3.08 linear feet (2 boxes, bound volumes; further additions expected)

Language of Materials



The Royal Order of Senior Bench was a senior women's honor society that valued leadership, scholarship, and service to the college. In 1951, it became the Senior Bench Chapter of the national Mortar Board honor society, and also became a coed organization in 1975. This collection contains financial information, correspondence, reports, member lists, constitutions, meeting minutes, event materials, scrapbooks, and member and adviser handbooks.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into series: The general series 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.

The Ruth Peterson series arrived at the College Archives in the early 2000s and, for the most part, is in original chronological order.
  1. 1, General Information, 1937-1990, 2000, 2010
  2. 2, Ruth Peterson's Adviser Files, 1987-2000
Mortar Board records
Michelle Tom
October 2012
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Beloit College Archives and Special Collections Repository

700 College St.
Beloit WI 53511 USA