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For example, many societies have two part names, such as Skull and Bones or Scroll and Key.
Many societies also limit their membership to a specific numerical limit in a class year.
Phi Beta Kappa is the most well-known such example, where it originally operated on a secret chapter basis, and it became the progenitor of all college fraternities, and at the same time, some time after its secrets were made public in the 1830s, Phi Beta Kappa continued on as an honorary.
Virtually all the oldest honoraries were once clearly secret societies, and to the extent that they are distinct now is at least ambiguous.
They vary greatly in their levels of secrecy and independence from their universities.
There are additional means, such as societies that were more or less explicitly established in emulation of some previous secret society, or using historical records to show that society X was created out of society Y.
There are several common traits among these societies.
As the term is used in this article, a secret society is a collegiate society where significant effort is made to keep affairs, membership rolls, signs of recognition, initiation, or other aspects secret from the public.
Some collegiate secret societies are referred to as 'class societies', which restrict membership to one class year.An especially difficult problem is the degree to which any one society is an actual society or is simply an honorary designation.