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There are additional means, such as societies that were more or less explicitly established in emulation of some previous secret society, or using historical records to show that society X was created out of society Y.
There are several common traits among these societies.
For example, many societies have two part names, such as Skull and Bones or Scroll and Key.
On a publicly announced evening, Yale undergraduates would assemble informally in the College Yard.Secret societies can have ceremonial initiations, secret signs of recognition (gestures, handshakes, passwords), formal secrets, (the 'true' name of the society, a motto, or a society history); but, college fraternities or "social fraternities" have the same, and some of these elements can also be a part of literary societies, singing groups, editorial boards, and honorary and pre-professional groups.Some secret societies have kept their membership secret, for example Seven Society and Gridiron, and some have not, like Skull and Bones (the Yale societies had published their membership lists in the yearbooks and the Yale Daily News).Sigma Phi remains the oldest continuously running national collegiate secret society, and has been rumored to have declined the founding members of Skull & Bones a charter prior to their becoming their own society.Yet there was also a second strain of development, when at Yale College Chi Delta Theta (1821) and Skull and Bones (1832) were founded — ultimately serving as antecedents for what would become known as class societies.
The first collegiate secret society recorded in North America is that of the F. C Society, established on November 11th, 1750 at The College of William & Mary. The Phi Beta Kappa society had a rudimentary initiation and maintained an uncertain level of secrecy.