– [Narrator] On October 9th, 1701, Yale University was founded with the mission to prepare youth for public employment both in church and civil state. But Yale’s earliest origins begin in the 1640s with a group of ministers who simply wanted to establish a theocracy and a college to educate its leaders.
For a university with such humble, churchly beginnings, it’s shocking then that one of their oldest secret society’s initiation rituals historically was rumored to include sharing the intimate details of one’s full sexual history. Shrouded in secrecy, this is everything we’ve dug up on Skull and Bones. Founded in 1832, Skull and Bones is the oldest of Yale’s many secret societies. Historically, admission is reserved for senior Yale undergraduates. Every year in the spring, 15 new members from the junior class are offered membership on what is often called “Tap Night”. A custom aptly named,
As the new member is said to be notified of their admittance when a current member ritually claps them on the shoulder. Skull and Bones members are known to take an oath of secrecy, so their rituals and intricacies are highly guarded, despite the fame of their members.
One thing we do know is the physical location of the Skull and Bones clubhouse and headquarters. The nearly windowless building, simply known as The Tomb, is housed at a large brownstone located at 64 High Street in New Haven, Connecticut. To preserve confidentiality, non-members are prohibited from entering. The macabre decor of the clubhouse
Is well suited to Skull and Bones’ distinctively ghoulish spirit. The Tomb is said to be adorned with skeletons, skulls, and other dark works of art. There’s a popular rumor that the stolen skull of the Apache leader Geronimo is a relic that is housed within The Tomb’s cadaverous walls.
In 2009, Geronimo’s descendants attempted to sue the organization to get the skull returned to them, but were unsuccessful. Portraits of its distinguished members lie on the walls of The Tomb as well. Portraits that might feature such esteemed Bonesmen like former presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and William Howard Taft.
As well as the father of American Football and the founder of the NCAA, Walter Camp. The man who helped create the Hubble telescope, Lyman Spitzer. Time Magazine’s founder, Henry Luce. A Supreme Court justice, Potter Stewart. Former Secretary of State and senator, John Kerry. The so called “richest man in private equity”,
With a personal net worth currently valued at 15.7 billion dollars, Stephen A. Schwarzman. Political journalist and author, Dana Milbank. And the youngest member of President Obama’s cabinet, economist Austan Goolsbee. If you’re noticing a pattern among the members of Skull and Bones, that’s because while Yale has admitted women since 1969,
Females were not granted membership into Skull and Bones until 1992, 160 years after the club’s founding. For some time, Skull and Bones was apparently losing some of their top candidates, because the organization was seen as regressive and sexist. As more women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ members joined the organization,
The old boys’ club rituals had to adapt. However, the intricacies of how Skull and Bones has evolved to become a more inclusive space for new members remains largely as secretive as the very rituals themselves. One’s membership into Skull and Bones even reaches beyond the grave, as new initiates reportedly agree to leave
A part of their estate to the club. However, in return, it is said that the club ensures a policy and a promise of their lifelong financial stability. And with such an affluent list of members, it’s hard to find a bone to pick with such a guarantee.