7 of Yale's super-elite secret societies ranked by wealth

Yale's secret societies often seem shrouded in mystery. They are bastions of influence and intrigue that hold among their members some of the world's most powerful people.

But some information about secret societies isn't as clandestine as some might think. Yale's "landed societies" — those that meet in tombs or halls — are registered with the IRS as charitable organizations. One of the societies on our list, the Elizabethan Club, is not a "secret society" per se but an elite social club that owns a house on campus.

These landed societies are legally obligated to file public tax information, since they are 501(c)(3) organizations.

Not all of Yale's societies meet in tombs or have relatively sizable wealth, though. At last count, Yale had 41 secret societies, and the vast majority are not considered landed.

We were able to dig up tax forms for seven landed societies from 2014. These societies have considerable wealth, the majority of which was garnered through original endowments and has been maintained through voluntary donations by members.

Check out the list, as ranked by total assets.

Yale's wealthiest secret societies
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Yale's wealthiest secret societies

7. St. Elmo — $90,472

​​​St. Elmo was founded in 1889. Its notable alumni include HBO's "Girls" actress Allison Williams and former US Attorney General John Ashcroft.

(Kofm2008 Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia)

6. Berzelius — $1,945,346

Berzelius was founded in 1848. Its notable alumni include Bill DeWitt III, president of the St. Louis Cardinals.

(BoolaBoola2 Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Colony Foundation.")

5. Skull and Bones — $4,129,936

​​​​​​Skull and Bones was founded in 1832. Its notable alumni include former US Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

(BoolaBoola2 Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "RTA Inc.")

4. Elizabethan Club — $4,280,963

​​​​​The Elizabethan Club was founded in 1911. It describes itself as a social club, and members dedicate their time to the discussion of arts and literature of the Elizabethan era. Notable members include Cole Porter, the famed composer and songwriter.

(Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia, Filed under "Yale University Elizabethan Club Corp.")

3. Book and Snake — $5,619,120

​​​​​Book and Snake was founded in 1863. Its notable alumni include Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Charles Rivkin, the current US assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs.

(Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Stone Trust Corp.")

2. Wolf's Head — $6,845,255

​​​​​​Wolf's Head was founded in 1883. It has the reputation of tapping primarily the "prep school" type, and was the last all-male society — allowing female members only in 1992.

Its notable alumni include hedge fund magnate Tom Steyer.

(BoolaBoola2 Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Phelps Association.")

1. Scroll and Key — $10,771,828

​​​​​​Scroll and Key was founded in 1842. Its notable alumni include CNN news anchor and columnist Fareed Zakaria and "Dateline NBC" news anchor Stone Phillips.

(Licensed under Public Domain via Commons, Filed under "Kingsley Trust Association.")


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