Delta Tau Delta Fraternity was founded in 1858 at Bethany College in Bethany, Virginia. The social life on campus was centered on the Neotrophian Society, a literary society. In 1858, a group of students met to discuss means to regain control of the Neotrophian Society and return control to the students at large. A constitution, name, badge, ritual and motto were devised, and Delta Tau Delta was born. In 1886, Delta Tau Delta merged with the Rainbow Fraternity, an old and respected southern fraternity founded in 1848 at the University of Mississippi.

Delta Tau Delta now boasts 132 undergraduate chapters and colonies, over 6,000 active undergraduates, and over 115,000 living alumni, and has initiated over 150,000 members since its founding. Its national community service initiative is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The fraternity celebrated its 150th anniversary at the 2008 Karnea in Pittsburgh, PA.