Skull and Bones - The Secretive Society of Skull and Bones: A Historic Overview - 08/Feb/2024

Skull and Bones – The Secretive Society of Skull and Bones: A Historic Overview – 08/Feb/2024

The Secretive Society of Skull and Bones: A Historic Overview

The Skull and Bones society, also known as The Brotherhood of Death, or simply The Bones, is a secretive organization based at Yale University, renowned not only for its high-profile membership but equally for the mystique that surrounds its rituals and ethos.

Origins and Establishment of Skull and Bones

The origins of Skull and Bones trace back to 1832 when it was founded by William Huntington Russell and Alphonso Taft at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The organization was the third in a series of organizations known as the “Senior Societies” at Yale, formed as a new haven for students marginalized from existing societies, such as Phi Beta Kappa.

Membership and Notable Bonesmen

Membership to the Skull and Bones society is mostly limited to the male student population of Yale University and is based on a selection process that occurs during students’ junior years. A group of fifteen juniors is “tapped” annually by the seniors to join the order. This practice has helped solidify the society’s network as members often come from influential families or go on to achieve prominence in various fields. Notable ‘Bonesmen’ include former Presidents William Howard Taft and George H.W. Bush, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Secretary of State John Kerry, and numerous other individuals in powerful government, business, and academic positions.

The Tomb: The Society’s Headquarters

The organization holds its activities in a building known as “the Tomb,” a windowless edifice located on High Street, near the Yale campus. Inside the tomb, it is said that rituals are held which remain undisclosed to outsiders due to strict oaths of secrecy taken by members. Mysteries surrounding what actually goes on inside during meetings have spurred public curiosity and speculation about Skull and Bones for decades.

Mystique and Controversies Surrounding Skull and Bones

Given the society’s privacy and rumored connection to powerful societal positions, it has been subject to various theories including those of manipulation of international events for the benefit of its members. Its assumed mechanisms of soft power have both intrigued and generated distrust among public onlookers. Controversies have been maintained due to numerous testimonials from purported insiders or investigative entries into its operations.

Cultural Impact and Persistent Fascination

The public fascination with Skull and Bones has percolated popular culture spawning references in literature, film, and television. The society signifies for some the epitome of elitism and secret governance while inciting dismissals as nothing more than an exclusive student club by others.


  • Skull and Bones was established in 1832 at Yale University.
  • Membership includes prominent figures such as Presidents, judges, and secretaries of state.
  • The society is known for its code of silence surrounding internal practices and rituals.
  • Cultural representations have amplified both the intrigue and skepticism concerning the society.
  • Image Description

    An artist’s rendition of the Skull and Bones “Tomb”, showing the facade of a windowless sandstone building with Neo-Gothic architectural elements against an overcast sky, illustrating the society’s aura of secrecy and exclusivity.