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Tau Beta Pi records

 Collection 0046-UA

The University of Maryland chapter of Tau Beta Pi, a national honorary engineering society, was established in 1929. The Tau Beta Pi records span from its founding to 2002 and include minutes of meetings, both local and national; pledge papers; information on chapter activities; membership records; financial records; and information on chapter history. The collection also includes a series of photographs documenting Tau Beta Pi activities.


  • 1929-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1980

Use and Access to Collection

This collection contains restricted material, please check the series and folder listings for additional information.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


7.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The records of Tau Beta Pi date from 1923 to 2002 with the bulk of the material covering the years from 1940 through 1980. The collection includes minutes of meetings, both local and national; pledge papers; information on chapter activities; membership records; financial records; and information on chapter history. The collection also includes a series of photographs documenting Tau Beta Pi activities.

Administrative History

Tau Beta Pi is a national honorary engineering society founded in 1885 to recognize engineering students of high scholarship, leadership, and personal integrity. It was a considerable struggle for the local engineering honorary society, Phi Mu, established in 1923, to gain acceptance into the national Tau Beta Pi. At the beginning of this effort, Tau Beta Pi officials refused to accept Phi Mu because of the relatively small size of the engineering program at the University of Maryland. For six years, the dedicated members of Phi Mu conducted a steady correspondence, describing the merits and high standards of the engineering program with the national office, providing evidence that the program was both growing and of superior quality, if modest in size. After a six-year battle, Phi Mu was formally inducted into Tau Beta Pi in 1929.

Tau Beta Pi has very high standards for induction. An engineering student must be in the top fifth of his or her class, usually with a grade point average above 3.0, and must be involved in extracurricular activities. Potential members of Tau Beta Pi are also judged on their character and personal integrity. Initiates often may be required to write an essay, obtain letters of recommendation, and/or pass a test in order to be accepted. Until 1969, the membership was exclusively male. However, Tau Beta Pi originally recognized the accomplishments of women engineering students with a special badge, even though it did not induct them officially into the society. The question of women members was argued at every national convention from 1903 to 1968. In 1968, the national convention delegates voted unanimously to allow women into Tau Beta Pi. On 9 May 1969, the University of Maryland Chapter of Tau Beta Pi initiated its first female members.

Maryland's Beta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi is very active and has been recognized by the national society with numerous awards, including the R. C. Matthews Outstanding Chapter Award. It has also successfully bid to host the national convention three times since its induction in 1929: in 1965, 1972, and 1986.

Activities of the University of Maryland's chapter of Tau Beta Pi are many and varied. Their programs include such service activities as blood drives, free tutoring, and sponsoring events with Boy Scouts and veterans. The chapter also constructed a Telesight device, a closed circuit television system to aid the visually handicapped. Other activities of the chapter include sponsoring the Engineering Olympics on campus, publishing the Maryland College of Engineering Newsletter, and awarding scholarships to engineering students.

The Maryland Beta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi continues to be active at the University of Maryland.


This collection is organized as seven series:

Series 1
Chapter Information and Activities
Series 2
Tau Beta Pi National Archives
Series 3
Series 4
Membership Records
Series 5
Financial Records
Series 6
Pledge Papers
Series 7
Photographs and Slides

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Tau Beta Pi records were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by the Maryland Beta Chapter of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Association in 1991. The 2001-2002 chapter survey was donated by Joseph Stecher in 2002.

Related Material

Materials related to this collection may be found in the Phi Mu records. The Phi Mu records consists of pledge papers, financial papers, membership records, and the original constitution.

Processing Information

The Tau Beta Pi records have been placed into acid-free folders, envelopes, and boxes. Materials documenting the chapter's time under the name of Phi Mu have been transferred to the Phi Mu records. Metallic clips and other fastenings have been removed and replaced with plastic clips over strips of acid-free paper. University publications were transferred to the university publications collection, and duplicate copies of documents have been discarded. Obviously misfiled items were moved to their proper place. The refiling of other documents and photographs was recorded on separation sheets to document original order. A sample copy of the original treasurer's documents from 1931 to 1932 was retained; other treasurer's records were discarded, as the information therein was duplicated elsewhere. Photographs mounted on paper backings were removed from the backing when possible. Acid-free paper was placed between the images for protection. Photographs were transferred to the Photograph collection.

Guide to the Tau Beta Pi records
Brooke S. Hinrichs.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742