At Yale University in New Haven Connecticut is an undergraduate senior secret society called Skull and Bones. It is the oldest society for the senior class. The society is owned by the Russell Trust Association who oversees the organization. The members of the society are called Bonesmen in the society itself is called “Bones” informally.
This society was created in 1832 at Yale after a dispute arose between the societies the Calliopean Society, Brothers in Unity, and Linonia over the awards that season from Phi Beta Kappa. The society was cofounded by Alfonso Taft and William Huntington Russell. The Russell Trust Association, the society’s alumni organization, manages the assets from the society. This association was incorporated in 1856, and founded by William Russell and Daniel Coit Gilman, a member of the Skull and Bones.
In 1871, the book “Four Years at Yale” by Lyman Bagg published the first extended description of the society. He noted in his writing how the mystery of the group created a large amount of college gossip and enigma that people enjoy talking about. According to Brooks Mather Kelley, interest is attributed to the idea that underclassmen members were able to return to Yale the following year and share what they learned about the rituals within the society, while the seniors graduated and became at least one step removed from life on the campus. This left the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes behind with no one to discuss with them what to expect from the senior society.
New members are selected each year at Yale University for Skull and Bones on “Tap Day.” This has been the case since 1879 at Yale. In the early 1990s, the society began including women. Every year, 15 women and men are chosen from the junior class to join the Skull and Bones society. The society taps those known as leaders on the campus, as well as other notable figures.