This mysterious secret society was founded in 1832 after a dispute among Yale debating societies Linonia, Brothers in Unity, and the Calliopean Society over that season’s Phi Beta Kappa awards. William Huntington Russell and Alphonso Taft co-founded “the Order of the Scull and Bones”. The Russell Trust Association, incorporated in 1856 and named after the Bones co-founder manages their assets. Their members go by the nickname “Bonesmen”. Many famous and powerful people have been known to be in the society.
Skull and Bones selects new members among students every spring as part of Yale University’s “Tap Day”, and has done so since 1879. Since the society’s inclusion of women in the early 1990s, Skull and Bones selects fifteen men and women of the junior class to join the society. Skull and Bones “taps” those that it views as campus leaders and other notable figures for its membership.
Documents in the Yale archives suggests that 322 is a reference to the year 322 BC and that members measure dates from this year instead of from the common era. In 322 BC, the Lamian War ended with the death of Demosthenes and Athenians were made to dissolve their government and establish a plutocratic system in its stead, whereby only those possessing 2,000 drachmas or more could remain citizens. Documents in the Tomb have purportedly been found dated to “Anno-Demostheni”. Members measure time of day according to a clock 5 minutes out of sync with normal time, the latter is called “barbarian time”. There is a legend that the numbers in the society’s emblem (“322”) represent “founded in ’32, 2nd corps”, referring to a first Corps in an unknown German university.
Conspiracy theories of the secret society are many. Many theorists claim that the society plays a role in a global conspiracy for world control.The Bonesman have also been accused of possessing the stolen skulls of Martin Van Buren, Geronimo, and Pancho Villa.