The History of Triangle

April 15 is historic in the annals of Triangle Fraternity, the annual Founders Day. On that date in 1907, the band of 16 students constituting the Founders obtained incorporation papers from the State of Illinois. Before the incorporation papers could be applied for, however, there had to be some kind of organization. The Founders, all junior civil engineering students at the University of Illinois, for the most part, had known each other since they were freshmen. In the fall of 1906, four students-Stan Cutler, Milton McCoy, Meryl Morgan, and Emil Weber-started discussions about establishing a Civil Engineering club. As the group developed and added members over the next few months, they decided to become a fraternity with plans to rent a house and live together during their senior year, 1907-1908.

A large number of names had been suggested, but Transiters, Eads, Level, and Triangle seemed to meet with the most favor. Finally, it narrowed down to a choice between Eads and Triangle, and the latter won out. It was decided to call the Illinois Chapter “Eads” because even at that time, there was a vision of a fraternity which was to extend beyond the horizon of Illinois and take in all of the large engineering schools in the country.

December 9-11, 1909

First National Convention held at Champaign, Illinois

November 1911

The first issue of the Triangle REVIEW, the official magazine of the Fraternity, produced by W.A. Knapp ill asc.

February 7-8, 1913
  • 4th National Convention at Champaign, Illinois
  • Adopted national colors of old rose and gray
  • Ceremonial gavel presented to the Fraternity by W.A. Knapp ill asc.
  • Civil Engineering Fraternity of the University of Wisconsin installed as Wisconsin Chapter
January 1921

Adoption by national referendum of constitutional change permitting initiation of members from any brand of engineering

March 3-5, 1921
  • 12th National Convention held in Champaign, Illinois
  • Adopted Present form of membership
May 26, 1923
  • Scroll and Triangle Club at Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology) installed as Armour Chapter at Chicago
  • Triangle Rattle, originated by the Iowa Chapter was presented for the first time to a “baby” chapter
April 30 - May 2, 1925

First presentation of Service Key and Scholarship Cup at the 16th National Convention in Cincinnati

April 28 - 30, 1927

First Chapter Officers School held in conjunction with the 18th National Convention in Chicago

September 29 - 30, 1928

First copies of a new publication, A Syllabus on Pledge Training, distributed at Chapter Officers School

April 28 - 30, 1932
  • Silver Anniversary Convention held at the University of Illinois
  • Founders’ Plaque dedicated in the Illinois Chapter House
  • Modified coat-of-arms is approved
  • Pledge training course adopted
August 1932

First information booklet for us as a rushee prospectus published

October 1932

First Chapter Officers Manual issued


Triangle became a senior member of the National Interfraternity Conference

January 29, 1950

Herbert F. Scobie minn32 is appointed as the Executive Secretary

August 30 - September 2, 1955
  • National Convention in Milwaukee provided for Fraternity’s first full-time executive director
  • Voted to admit approved chemistry, physics, and mathematics majors to membership
September 2 - 5, 1964
  • 47th National Convention held in Champaign, Illinois
  • Founder Arthur Schwerin ill07 received letters from all living past presidents and a citation designating him “Mr. Triangle”
July 31 - August 3, 1974

First Leadership School not associated with a Convention is held in Columbus, Ohio

January 22, 1983

Computer science joined chemistry, physics and mathematics as an approved science following a referendum vote of the chapters

March 10, 1991
  • Triangle’s membership reaches 20,000 initiates
  • Matthew Lawrence Stamm rose91 is initiated as member number 20,000
March 6, 1994

Triangle becomes one of the first fraternities on the World Wide Web with the creation of the Triangle Fraternity home page

August 6 - 9, 1994

At Leadership School in Madison, Wisconsin, the School is renamed the “Herbert F. Scobie Leadership School” to honor Triangle’s long-time Executive Director and Editor

February 1995

The Triangle Wall of Fame is created- the first four members are Frederick R. Kappel minn23, Ellison S. Onizuka col69, Henry J. Ramey, Jr. pur48, and Gerald A. Rauenhorst marq50

August 5 - 8, 1995
  • National Convention is held in Overland Park, Kansas
  • A major rewrite of the National Constitution and Bylaws is completed
January 14-16, 2000

At the first annual Presidents Academy in Plainfield, Indiana, twenty-five chapter presidents gather to discuss leadership in Triangle

August 27, 1997

Triangle moves into a new National Headquarters, located in Plainfield, Indiana

July 12-14, 2007

Triangle’s Centennial Convention takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana- highlights include the dedication of the new front courtyard at the National Headquarters and joint events with Phi Sigma Rho Sorority

November 8, 2008

National Council declares November 8, 2008 to be Bob Patten Day in recognition of Brother Patten’s long service to the Armour Chapter

November 23, 2008

Triangle’s 25,000th initiate, Samuel M. Scalzo pitt08 is initiated at the Pitt Chapter

July 2015

Two new educational programs are introduced to Triangle Membership: The Judy & Larry Garatoni Building Better Men Chapter Endowment Fund Program and the Melissa & John Gargani Academic U

August 2015

A four-year membership development program, The JOURNEY is introduced

July 2016

The Fraternity’s first Chapter Accreditation Program, the Pyramid is introduced to membership

The Rattles

The Triangle Rattle traditionally is presented to a new chapter at installation to signify its “baby” status in Triangle. The newest chapter is custodian of the Rattle until the next installation, when it passes the Rattle along.

The idea of presenting this token of infancy was conceived by Edward F. Wilsey ia22 before the Minnesota installation. As the proposed Rattle wasn’t ready for the installation on October 29, 1922, Brother Wilsey presented a beribboned, highly painted rattle to the Minnesota chapter, suggesting that the future pledges at the Minnesota chapter be required to kiss the pacifier and that it be passed along to the next chapter of Triangle to be installed. Brother V. M. Babcock minn23 then placed the first kiss on the rattle on behalf of Minnesota. The actual Rattle was delivered at the installation of the Armour chapter on May 16, 1923.

At the beginning, the Rattle consisted of a triangle and enclosed T surmounted by a flat cylinder. The Rattle rattles when shaken due to pennies in the cylinder. Originally a coin, with the year of installation, was to be added for each new chapter, but the practice has been discontinued. Each new chapter, however, has added some object of engineering or Triangle significance to the Rattle.

Additions over the years, as each new chapter demonstrated its imagination and ingenuity, made the original Rattle unwieldy, so the RIT Chapter was asked to start Rattle II for presentation at the Colorado State University Chapter installation. Rattle I was given to the Illinois Chapter at the 1967 Convention to display for a year. At succeeding national meetings, Rattle I was transferred to the next chapter in order of installation so that members who have never seen either Rattle can enjoy it. Because of the great interest in the Rattles and because so few members from distant chapters attend installations, presentation of Rattle II as well as Rattle I had been made a national meeting activity. However, at the 1988 National Meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, it was decided that Rattle I and Rattle II would be kept on display in the National Headquarters, while the University of Texas/Arlington Chapter would begin Rattle III and pass it to the two newest chapters at the time at Texas A&M and Michigan Technological University for their additions. Since then, Rattle III has been passed on to subsequently installed chapters.

Fraternity records of the rattle are incomplete. In the September 1923 issue of Triangle Review, following the Armour installation, is a picture of the new rattle. The idea was to start with the rough unfinished casting and have each chapter add something before they passed it on to the new baby chapter. Some of the things done were:

  • Polishing of the casting
  • Mounting on a wooden base
  • Inscription of the names of the Founders
  • List of the chapters
  • Adding of the telescope
  • Adding to the fraternity coat of arms
  • Plugging of the hole and the insertion of a piece of metal in the hollow cylinder at the top to make it “rattle”

Chapter Additions
As the Rattle is passed on from chapter to chapter continual additions are made to mark the installation of a new chapter.  As the rattles continue to grow they are retired to Triangle National Headquarters and a new rattle is created to take its place.  Since the creation of The Rattle there have been four separate versions.  More information on the history of each rattle and individual chapter additions can be found below.

Any brothers with further information about the various additions to the rattles are encouraged to submit the information to the National Office or to National Historian Kevin Fong.

National Headquarters Address

120 S. Center Street
Plainfield, IN 46168
P | (317) 837-9640
F | (317) 837-9642

Office Hours

Monday through Friday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern)

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