StudyAdvantage Magazine

Notorious Student Clubs Pt 1: Skull & Bones at Yale

Published: December 23, 2016

In the Notorious Student Clubs series on StudyAdvantage, we explore the most rumoured student societies globally. So that you arrive on campus ‘aware’, and so that you can prepare yourself – whether that preparation is in anticipation of the membership application, or to do everything you can to avoid the clubs altogether. 

What do the former US President George Bush, Secretary of State John Kerry, Morgan Stanley co-founder Harold Stanley, and the founder of Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune Magazines Henry Luce all have in common? That’s correct, they are all ‘Bondsmen’, in other words members of Yale’s secret male society Skull and Bones.

Bonesmen   Deer Island

Left: an old Bonesmen class posing in front of their classic clock at precisely 8 pm; To the right: the Deer Island estate

Founded in 1832, the Skull and Bones society has become synonymous with Ivy League privilege, a creme de la creme within an already select crowd of students. Its members have gone onto powerful positions in government, diplomacy, industry and the media. The club has a rich endowment and famously owns Deer Island, an island retreat on the St Lawrence river on the US-Canadian border.


The beautiful Yale University campus

Of course, the society is ‘secret’, so we don’t want to elaborate much further in speculation. There is no lack of conspiracy theory around the Bones, and there is also no lack of references in popular culture…

From movie The Good Shepherd (2006):

In an old The Simpsons episode:


Want to know what life at Yale is like for international students?

Read Faith’s, Arvin’s or Nana Akua’s blogs.

Faith Chumo  Arvin Anoop  Nana Akua Mensah

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