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Happy 95th to the 7s

According to legend, yesterday marked the 95th anniversary of the University's elusive 7 Society.

Although the details of its history are shrouded in mystery, the philanthropic secret 7 Society has donated money every year to the first-year class and has paid for the street lights on Rugby Road.

As legend has it, the 7 Society's formation was inspired when then-University student Edward Leland Williams died suddenly of appendicitis, April 10, 1905.

In 1906, Hot Feet, a student organization that later became the contemporary IMP Society, published a sketch in Corks and Curls of Williams lying dead in a shroud. His name was inscribed under the picture.

Hot Feet was banned by then-University President Edwin Alderman for having offended the University, former University Historian Raymond Bice said.

The organization allegedly was involved in heavy drinking, which is a probable reason for why it was banned, Bice said.

Many members of Hot Feet were also later revealed to be 7s.

In 1959, Alumni News began publishing the names of former 7 Society members upon their deaths, the only time member identities can be disclosed. Many of the first revealed 7s had been friends with Williams, lending credence to the theory that the Society and his death are intimately linked.

Some key University figures were once 7 Society members, and many of them have family ties to the secret society.

In fact, both the father and the uncle of Gordon F. Rainey, Jr., a recently-appointed member of the Board of Visitors, were 7 Society members.

Compiled by Adam Justice

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