100th Anniversary of The Scroll


In the twenty-fifth year of the Fraternity, at the 1873 Convention in Athens, Ohio, the delegates voted to form a publication committee to plan the editing and publication of “A Monthly Organ.” The convention of 1874 adopted a resolution to publish “A Quarterly Paper.” A prospectus of The Phi Delta Theta Quarterly was issued from Indianapolis on October 17, 1874, containing four pages.

Founder and Editor William Oscar Bates, Butler 1875, published the inaugural issue of our Fraternity magazine. S.J. Tomlinson, Butler 1875, and A.B. Thrasher, Butler 1873, initially assisted him.

The first issue saw the change to the name, The Scroll, and the format, a magazine. Four issues were published in 1874 and three in 1876. Due to a lack of funds, the magazine wouldn’t be published again until September 1878. It was issued as a monthly paper until October 1880, in which it once again reverted to magazine form.

The magazine was printed in nine different locations during the first thirty years. Beginning in February 1904, the Collegiate Press of The George Banta Company published the magazine and continued to do so through the 1990s.

In October 1932, the magazine changed from the long-standing six-by-nine-inch to seven-by-ten. The typeface for the magazine was changed to Baskerville by Edward E. Ruby, Indiana 1897, with his first issue as editor in August 1937. That issue also had a new cover design process with the advent of offset printing which “permits greater variety than letterpress printing.” Also, beginning in the 1930s, the cover design changed with each issue, reflecting the trend of college magazines.

At the 1970 Convention in Washington, DC, the proposal made by then editor John T. ‘Jack’ McDonald, North Dakota ’62, was approved to change the number of issues from five to four.

The magazine once again was updated in the fall of 1972 to standard letter size 8½″ × 11″ paper. This expanded size would allow for more flexibility in layout. The type size was enlarged from 9 pt. to 10 pt. and changed from Baskerville to Schoolbook in 1973. The cover was also upgraded using a wrap-around, heavyweight paper stock that allowed for the use of a second color at an economical price. The Summer 1974 issue was the first ever to use three, four-color photographs: one on the cover and two on the first eight pages.

In the centennial edition of The Scroll, Scroll Editor Bill Dean, Texas Tech ’61, summarized the importance of our Fraternity’s publication: “It has provided the mechanism for communication and understanding through the past 100 years. It has been part of that quality of leadership.

Nine former editors of The Scroll have served on the General Council. Six of these have been president.

The Scroll has weathered many storms. It has seen the Fraternity through five wars, a depression, a struggle for civil rights and civil liberties as well as major social and economic change.

Editors have come and gone. The format has undergone numerous changes. But The Scroll continues today, as in the past, to be a very vital part of Phi Delta Theta.”