Message to Alumni

We believe The Signet Society experience is important for our current undergraduates-- whom alumni should come and meet-- and assume that is similar to how you felt when you were on campus. The current members depend on the alumni for support and networking, and the alumni in turn depend on each other for maintaining those contacts. We are undertaking some exciting new initiatives with precisely those relationships in mind.

You will hear more from us as we strengthen ties to and among our fantastic 2,000 member alumni community that extends through 35 countries around the world, reaching from Cambridge to Colombia, and Argentina to Zimbabwe. As always, we welcome your suggestions and comments about what types of news, events and features you'd like to see.

-The Signet Society Alumni



The membership of The Signet Society is of four classes: Harvard Undergraduate Student (elected in their Sophomore, Junior, or Senior year), Graduate Student (undergraduate alumni), Associate (from the Harvard community, e.g. graduate students, faculty and administrators), and Honorary (any person who does not fit into the other three designations). 

Members are chosen with regard to their intellectual, literary and artistic ability and achievements and with regard for the purposes for which the Society was founded. Any Signet member may nominate candidates for membership. Candidates are asked to supply a nomination letter from a Signet member, a C.V., and 10 supporting signatures from Undergraduate members. The Undergraduate membership of the Society is responsible for electing all members.

All four classes of membership (Undergraduate, Graduate Student, Associate, and Honorary) are valid for a lifetime and carry equivalent privileges: a standing invitation to lunches, teas, the Annual Dinner, and other activities both at the Signet House and worldwide.

Selected Alumni

The Signet has been nourished by great teachers, scholars, philosophers, and artists who have held a central place in American cultural life. Two have been presidents of the United States.

Some notable members are as follows:

Arts and letters:

James Agee, novelist, screenwriter, poet, author
Conrad Aiken, author
John Ashbery, poet, writer
John Berendt, writer
Andy Borowitz, writer, comedian, actor
Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor
Earl Derr Biggers, novelist and playwright
T. S. Eliot, poet, author
Robert Frost, poet
Matt Haimovitz, cellist
Donald Hall, poet
Mason Hammond, Classics scholar
Abbott Lawrence Lowell, Harvard President, historian
Yo-Yo Ma, cellist
Norman Mailer, writer
Sarah Manguso, poet
Samuel Eliot Morison, author, educator, maritime historian, retired Rear Admiral
Charles Eliot Norton, scholar
George Plimpton, writer, journalist
George Santayana, philosopher, poet, novelist
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., historian
Wallace Stevens, poet
John Updike, writer
John Hall Wheelock, poet


Frank Rich, critic, writer
Walter Isaacson, writer, biographer 
Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor, The New Yorker
Joseph Lelyveld, journalist, author
Reihan Salam, journalist
Alessandra Stanley, critic, writer
Richard Tofel, journalist, author

Media and entertainment:

Tommy Lee Jones, actor
Rashida Jones, actress
John Lithgow, actor
Donal Logue, actor
Conan O'Brien, comedian
Natalie Portman, actress
James "Toofer" Spurlock, fictional character on television show 30 Rock
Whit Stillman, writer-director
Tom Werner, producer, Red Sox co-owner
Alan "Scooter" Zackheim, reality show winner Beauty and the Geek


James B. Conant, scholar, chemist
Charles W. Eliot, Harvard President, chemist, mathematician
William James, psychologist and philosopher
Thomas Kuhn, philosopher
Andrew Weil, author, physician, established field of integrative medicine

Diplomacy, national security:

Charles Joseph Bonaparte, grandson of Jérôme Bonaparte (youngest brother of Emperor Napoleon I), United States Cabinet Member, and Signet Society's first president.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Theodore Roosevelt
Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense
Benazir Bhutto, late Prime Minister of Pakistan


Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senator from New York
Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Senator from West Virginia
William Weld, former Massachusetts Governor
Mark Penn, pollster, author