Signs of Life: The Frat Party Posters

We have a visually unique collection of 40 fraternity party posters from the mid-1960’s, representing twenty two different RPI fraternities. According to the donor, Lombard Pozzi (B.Arch ’67) “The different fraternity houses would advertise their upcoming weekend parties by making original posters and tying them to the trees along the walk from the Troy Building to the old ’87 Gym.” As a freshman Lombard collected many of the posters for his dorm room, and later as house manager for the Rensselaer Society of Engineers he collected the house’s posters after parties.

I became intrigued with these posters since they convey an aspect of student life that we don’t always catch glimpses of here in the archives. By combing through The Transit and The Rensselaer Polytechnic, I discovered a simple quote in the 1963 Transit: “Parties are the best advertised feature of fraternities.” Lombard was right (!), but I still have a dozen questions and I’m hoping that our readership can shed light on the messages these posters sent to the students who passed by them!

Tequila, Hootenanny, Wipe-out, Raid, and Drag are written on many of the posters. Music by The Vagabonds, The Illusions, Boballoo, The Kingsmen, and The Bonnevilles allow us to imagine the atmosphere. Many of the posters, however convey a telling message, “Sorry, no Frosh.” The 1964 Transit explains this important tidbit written in the lower corner of the posters: “With the coming of the new semester that mocking phrase disappears from the party signs. Fraternity doors open wide to that now valuable commodity, the freshman.”

The Polytechnic, Wed., Sept. 30, 1964

Aside from The Transit being the best source of information on parties and posters, The Poly pointed to the bands! An article about The Kingsmen, Chiffons, Dick Madison and Josh White providing music for Homecoming was a welcome discovery. Check out this party poster! The Kingsmen were from the west coast though, so how big were these parties? Better yet, what was the Burdett drag strip like?

The Polytechnic, March 4, 1964.

I continued my search, and found a reference to Wilmer and the Dukes in The Poly. The article to the left mentions them playing at Crooked Lake. This band is listed on a Rensselaer Society of Engineers poster for “Wipe-out Night.”

 

 

 

 

My final search resulted in finding a dorm shot from 1963 with what certainly appears to be a party poster on the wall in the background! Now it’s clear how Lombard was decorating. These posters convey so much about student life, fraternity life and the social atmosphere of campus. We hope you can give us more insight. And by all means let us know what some of the acronyms are on the posters!

RPI Fraternity Party Posters Slideshow

Phi Kappa Tau, Pre-Hootenanny Cocktail Party

Phi Kappa Tau, Pre-Hootenanny Cocktail Party

Acacia, Theatre of the Absurd

Acacia, Theatre of the Absurd

Alpha Chi Rho, Shake It-Bonnevilles

Alpha Chi Rho, Shake It-Bonnevilles

Alpha Epsilon Pi, Thornton Sisters

Alpha Epsilon Pi, Thornton Sisters

Alpha Tau Omega, Vagabonds

Alpha Tau Omega, Vagabonds

Delta Kappa Epsilon, Ride On Part Two-The Vagabonds

Delta Kappa Epsilon, Ride On Part Two-The Vagabonds

Lambda Chi Alpha, The Illusions and Hoosick St. Players

Lambda Chi Alpha, The Illusions and Hoosick St. Players

Phi Epsilon Pi, Friday Raid and Boballo

Phi Epsilon Pi, Friday Raid and Boballo

Phi Iota Alpha, Tequilla Party

Phi Iota Alpha, Tequilla Party

Phi Kappa Tau, Weasel and the Wharf Rats

Phi Kappa Tau, Weasel and the Wharf Rats

Phi Kappa Theta, Party Party Party

Phi Kappa Theta, Party Party Party

Phi Kappa Theta, Jerry Romeo Quartet

Phi Kappa Theta, Jerry Romeo Quartet

Phi Mu Delta, Les Cooper

Phi Mu Delta, Les Cooper

Phi Sigma Kappa, The Kingsmen

Phi Sigma Kappa, The Kingsmen

Pi Kappa Alpha, Furies

Pi Kappa Alpha, Furies

Pi Kappa Phi, A.T. and the Agents

Pi Kappa Phi, A.T. and the Agents

Pi Lamda Phi Epsilons

Pi Lamda Phi Epsilons

Rensselaer Society of Engineers, The Mystics

Rensselaer Society of Engineers, The Mystics

Rensselaer Society of Engineers, Wipe Out with Wilmer and The Dukes

Rensselaer Society of Engineers, Wipe Out with Wilmer and The Dukes

Sigma Chi

Sigma Chi

Sigma Phi Epsilon (Yes '67)

Sigma Phi Epsilon (Yes '67)

Tau Kappa Epsilon, Uranus and the Four Moons

Tau Kappa Epsilon, Uranus and the Four Moons

Theta Xi, The Bonnevilles

Theta Xi, The Bonnevilles

Zeta Beta Tau, Billy and Lillie

Zeta Beta Tau, Billy and Lillie

Zeta Psi, Quattlebaum and The Sharpichords (Twist and Shout)

Zeta Psi, Quattlebaum and The Sharpichords (Twist and Shout)

“Although they provide some of the most enjoyable moments of fraternity living…they are not the fulcrum of fraternity life. At a fraternity party the surface of the deep friendships which are fostered is exposed, but this rousing and vital part of fraternity life is only a small part of the total experience.” The Transit 1963

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6 Responses to Signs of Life: The Frat Party Posters

  1. Dave Koschnick '73 says:

    Then there were those that proudly proclaimed to be members of Gamma Delta Iota – or as the frat boys preferred to call us “God Damn Independants.”

  2. scott sands says:

    Is there some way to see these posters on line?

    • gobert says:

      Most of the posters can be viewed in a slideshow near the bottom of the post. Just above the Pi Kappa Tau poster there are three options: Play, Prev, and Next. Click on them to either play the entire slideshow or to browse them at your own pace. Enjoy!

  3. Rick Gordon '65 says:

    In those days, the ‘legal’ age in NY was 18. If you were an RPI student, you were legal!
    All (or 80% at least) were open parties – to anyone on campus – helping the houses to defray band costs.

    BTW, almost total absence of problems – other than a difficult time walking home ….. even is it meant going up (or down) the Approach.

  4. steve says:

    Hey Dave, at least we “frat boys” know how to spell ‘Independents’!

  5. Pingback: AEPi Party Posters from the mid-60 | AEPi

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