While the founding date of the Philomathean Society is placed at January 4, 1852, it was not until three months later on the 4th of March that the members - now numbering between seven and nine - announced their new Society to the College and the world. A literary society, the Philomatheans spent their meetings reading original compositions and papers written by the members and debating both deep, philosophical questions and light-hearted topics. By 1857, the Society began to publish The Philomathean Gazette to further encourage essay writing among its members. The members were encouraged to read "such books as will improve her" and, to this end, a small but carefully selected library was assembled in the Philomathean Hall. Beginning in 1866, the Philomatheans gave a biennial public entertainment, or exhibition, which included essays, dialogues, and vocal and instrumental performances. The Adelphean Society, the first literary society at Wesleyan - established just seven months before the Philomathean Society - gave exhibitions on the alternating years. In addition to the exhibitions, Grand Meetings with a similar program were held each year for current Philomatheans, former members, and honorary members. These gatherings were the forerunners of what would become Phi Mu's National Conventions.
1852 - 1904
Philomathean Society Group Photograph, 1890