Kappa Alpha Order


Updated History to be Released at 76th Convention

Excelsior - Cover Image

(PS. You can read the title fine on the printed dust jacket!)

2015 marks the Sesquicentennial of the founding of Kappa Alpha Order, and before celebrating our present, we must remember our past. The Order is proud to announce that a new history book will be unveiled at the Sesquicentennial Celebration and 76th Convention.

Earlier this year, Dr. Martin Clagett completed Excelsior: The Story of Kappa Alpha Order. It will be a Convention gift to all full registered undergraduate attendees and Sesquicentennial Donors, and will be available for sale beginning at Convention. Dr. Clagett will be on hand to autograph copies.

Excelsior is a 10” by 10” case-bound, shrink-wrapped one-of-a-kind edition with a heavy commemorative dust jacket. A Foreword by four-star U.S. Army General and KA alumnus Jack N. Merritt (Beta Eta-Oklahoma ’49), review by Former Knight Commander Dr. Idris Traylor (Gamma Chi-Texas Tech ’70), and an introduction by the 39th Knight Commander William E. Dreyer (Alpha Delta-William Jewell), welcome the reader to this definitive narrative of the Order. Full of colorful illustrations and never before told stories, Excelsior is a must have for every KA interested in learning more about his fraternity.

From the Foreword by GEN Jack N. Merritt (Beta Eta – Oklahoma ’49)
With excellence as Kappa Alpha Order’s aim, Excelsior: The Story of Kappa Alpha Order, has surpassed all expectations. A hallmark of our Sesquicentennial Celebration, the book will be a treasure for the Order and all those who own a copy, have the chance to read it, or share it with a fellow brother. Excelsior is handsome and commanding on a coffee table, stunning as you flip through the designs and illustrations, and its prose presents a unique but natural flow of historical education. This story takes into account more than 150 years of American and Kappa Alpha Order history. The author probably knows more about KA now than most of our members ever will. References to our birth, development, maturation, and today, are invaluable. It is a complete and definitive account, having brought together scores of facts and primary sources meticulously and academically cataloged, researched, and distilled. From the Kappa Alpha Archives to the interior of a member’s daughter’s attic, legend, lore, and scattered prior works are now, true to the title, subordinate to Excelsior.

From the Dust Jacket by the Author
Herodotos of Halicarnassus wrote in his preface to his Histories that his purpose was the hope of “preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done.” The purpose of this work is to record, in as objective a fashion as possible, the major events, personalities, and aspirations of the Kappa Alpha Order from the most reliable of sources—written documents and firsthand  accounts—the progress of the institution from its founding to the present day. The telling of this tale has focused on the origin of the order and the various changes that have taken place during its evolution. Indeed, the story of the order and the nation follow parallel paths.


Martin Clagett, Author. Martin has been a visiting scholar both at the college of William and Mary and the University of st. Andrews. He was formerly the Gilder Lehrman Fellow at the international center for Jefferson studies and, concurrently, a visiting lecturer at the University of Virginia where he authored Scientific Jefferson: Revealed for John Casteen, now President Emeritus of the University of Virginia. other projects of interest include the studies of William small, Thomas Jefferson’s only professor, and James Wilson, the overlooked and under-appreciated Founding Father, who fashioned the constitution into its final form and was a judge of the First supreme court. He is the husband of a devoted wife, Elizabeth Ann Clagett, and proud father of Richard Graham Clagett II and Alexandra Helena Bowen Clagett.

Kandy Harvey, Designer and Production Coordinator. Kandy spent many years in the same role at the University of Virginia. Past design projects include a Thomas Jefferson trilogy by Gene Crotty, Scientific Jefferson:  Revealed by Martin Clagett, Diary of a Dean by Kristin Jensen, and others of both academic and fictional nature. Her personal love of reading and books in general has a huge impact on her enthusiasm for book design.

Jesse Lyons, Editor. Assistant Executive Director for Advancement, Kappa Alpha Order, & Editor of The Kappa Alpha Journal.

Julie Campbell, Copy Editor. Associate Director of Communications and Public Affairs; Editor, W&L: The Washington and Lee University Alumni Magazine and author of The The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History.

Emily Salmon, Co-Editor. Senior copy editor emerita in the former Publications Division of the Library of Virginia and coeditor of The Hornbook of Virginia History and co-author of Historic Photos of Richmond.

John Salmon, Co-Editor. Former State Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and is the author of The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide.

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