The beginnings of the Mystical 7, and most American college fraternities, can be traced to the influence of Freemasonry in early American society.
Freemasonic influence had peeked directly after the revolution, and a few Greek Letter societies, including Phi Beta Kappa at William and Mary in 1776, and Kappa Alpha at Union College in 1825, were formed in rough emulation of the Masonic structure.
Mystical 7: A History
by Benjamin Wyatt-Greene
The definitive “Cyclopaedia of Fraternities,” first published by Albert C. Stevens in 1907 contains a short, two-line entry: “The Mystical 7, which is now thought to be dead, was in some respects one of the most remarkable and most ambitious college societies in the country.”1 Confusion over whether the Mystical Seven Society is dead has continued for well over a century and controversy still exists as to what present-day organization represents its legitimate philosophical heir, with histories occasionally being re-interpreted and re-written to support competing claims. However the relevant fact that emerges from research is that the Mystical 7 played an active part in a number of the major philosophical and educational movements of the 19th century and spawned and influenced a number of organizations and societies, some of which continue to exist today. Records exist detailing the correspondences and inner workings of the society, but its larger historical and philosophical progression has never been objectively catalogued in any detail. It is this wider scope which I am trying to explore and I would therefore refer readers to my end notes, my bibliography, and the Wesleyan University Archives if they wish to research specific traditions and symbols within the normal functionings of the society.