The University of Latvia students’ Association – Academic Fraternity Corps Fraternitas Academica was founded in 1925 to enhance students’ academic life, to refine their sense of honesty and responsibility, to encourage temperance, a deeper sensitivity to science, literature, art and sport, to provide moral and material support for its members during their student years and after, and to develop decent and strong Latvian citizens who could take an active part in Latvia’s cultural and social life.
Fraternitas Academica initial roots were formed in the Academic Scout Club (Akadēmiskais skautu klubs, ASK) which was founded in 1923 to consolidate those students who were scouts, to help them spread the scouting ideas and develop their traditional spiritual values. On December 18, 1923 the Club was registered as an autonomous unit by the Latvian Scout Central organization. The emblem of the ASK included a rhomboid lily in white with a green border; this emblem has been preserved on the top of the fraternity cap in the form of a five pointed star. In ASK General Meeting on February 4, 1925 the idea of Club’s transformation into students’ fraternity was debated, however, only on October 7, 1925 the ASK General Meeting passed an unanimous decision on Club’s transformation into Latvian Students Academic Fraternity Corps Fraternitas Academica.
The new society was established by 22 founders – students from various faculties of the University of Latvia; 17 represented the Academic Scout Club and 5 were from the Faculty of Theology.
Because a majority of the Scout Club members belonged to the fraternity Lettonia their suggestion to obtain sponsorship of the new organization’s constitution (Komāns) with the older fraternity was approved. The founders and the first semester group of new members or pledges guaranteed the United Academic Fraternities’ Bylaws (Apvienoto Korporāciju komāns) with Lettonia in November, 1925.
The following four semesters were very active consolidating the foundations of the new society, developing inner social life and recruiting new members.
The Fraternity’s original name was Fraternitas Academica but because of the desire by some critics to mitigate confusion with the German fraternity established in Dorpat (present Tartu, Estonia), at the Special Convention (Speciālais konvents) on March 28, 1927 it was changed to Fraternitas Academica Latviensis. However, the original name was confirmed by the University of Latvia Council (Latvijas Universitātes Padome) on February 8, 1933.
On November 8, 1927 Fraternitas Academica was accepted as a full member by the Latvian Academic Fraternities’ Convention (Prezidiju Konvents – P!K!) with February 4, 1925 being officially acknowledged as its date of foundation.
The Fraternity’s graduate or Alumni Association (Filistru biedrība – F!B!) was established in 21 March 1928 by the honorary members accepted during the Fraternity’s initial founding years. Fraternitas Academica Alumni Association was accepted into the Union of Academic Fraternities’ Alumni Associations (Filistru Biedrību Savienība – F!B!S!) on April 15, 1929 where it took an active part until its liquidation in 1940 after Latvia’s occupation by the USSR.
About 1926, the Fraternity designed an initial model of its coat of arms or heraldic emblem which was altered later and on February 4, 1930 the newly created emblem carved by Hugo Mercs, 1925.ll, was consecrated.
Fraternitas Academica Women’s Committee was established in February 1931.
Members of Fraternitas Academica have actively participated in all the Latvian Academic Fraternities’ Convention (Prezidiju Konvents) institutions, sending its representatives both to the Student Council and participating in the leadership of the Union of Academic Fraternities’ Alumni Associations (Filistru Biedrību savienība). Until WW2 the Fraternity had permanent basketball, athletics and volleyball teams that participated in various competitions organized by the Latvian Academic Fraternity Convention (Prezidiju Konvents).
The Fraternity undertook leadership of the Latvian Academic Fraternities’ Convention (Prezidiju Konvents) in 1930.II, 1938.II, 1995.II, 2006.I and 2017.I semesters.
On November 23, 1934 the Fraternity concluded a treaty of friendship with the Latvian students’ academic fraternity Tervetia. Another treaty of friendship was signed on November 5, 1938 with the Lithuanian students’ academic fraternity Šarūnas of the Lithuanian Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas.
All official activities of the Fraternity were terminated by the decree of the Minister of Social Affairs on July 13, 1940, as a result of Latvia’s occupation by the USSR. Until then the Fraternity had enrolled 264 members.
During the Nazi occupation, the activities of the Fraternity were partially renewed and one new member, Alfreds Nerbulis, 1941.II, was accepted. However, under the pressures of wartime and its attendant rules many members had been dispersed, and some were lost forever.
Following the war, the first meeting involving many members of the Fraternity was organized in 1947 in Eslingen, Germany where a new presidium or executive board (prezidijs) was elected. During the initial years of 1950 Alfrēds Gulbis, 1933.II, began to contact members who were living in the West. Osvalds Uršteins, 1927.II, was elected the first Fraternity president (seniors) in exile. During the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Fraternity on June 19, 1965, the newly recreated heraldic emblem by Hugo Mercs was sanctified by Fraternity’s founder pastor Kārlis Būmanis.
The Fraternity led the (World) Latvian Academic Fraternities’ Union (Latvijas Korporāciju apvienība – L!K!A!) in 1970/71, 1988/89 and in 2015/16. Due to the decrease of its alumni members in North America, Fraternitas Academica withdrew its membership from the L!K!A! in November, 2019.
On August 18, 1985 a memorial plaque created by artist Gunārs Straumēns, 1964.I, was sanctified in the Latvian Memorial Park Cemetery in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. This plaque honours those members who had fallen in WW2, victims of Soviet repressions and our deceased brothers.
Official Fraternity life in Latvia was renewed at a Special Convention on February 4, 1990. On March 28, 1990 the Fraternity’s statutes were confirmed by the University of Latvia and on June 17, the Fraternity’s Alumni Association statutes were accepted. Between the second semester of 1990 to the second semester of 1995 two executive boards (prezidiji) of the Fraternity existed simultaneously; one in Latvia and the global board. Starting with the first semester 1996, the Fraternity’s global executive board has been located in Riga. The Fraternitas Academica Alumni Association was registered with the Latvian Ministry of Justice as a social organization on January 6, 1994. Similar registration of the Fraternity – Corps Fraternitas Academica was achieved on March 18, 1996.
The first Fraternity’s song book (kantikums), compiled and edited by Kārlis Līdaka, 1991.II, was published on the eve of the organization’s 76th anniversary, in January 2001.
As a result of changes in Latvian legislation, the Fraternity and the Alumni Association were registered with the Republic of Latvia Business and Association Register in 1995, on August 8 and October 20, respectively.
On November 7, 2007 Fraternitas Academica Alumni Association was accepted into the renewed Union of Academic Fraternities’ Alumni Associations.
At the end of 2004, a book about the Fraternitas Academica 43 members who had studied theology – 43 no korporācijas Fraternitas Academica – was published by Arnolds G. Rautenšilds, 1925.II.
In February 2005, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary, the Fraternity’s first history and members biographical encyclopaedia Album Fratrum Academicorum, compiled and edited by Kārlis Līdaka, 1991.II, was published. The supplemented editions of Album Fratrum Academicorum were compiled and published in 2015 and 2017.
The second edition of Fraternity’s song book (kantikums), compiled and edited by Kārlis Līdaka, 1991.II, was published on the eve of the organization’s 94th anniversary, in early February 2019.
In 2009, the Fraternity opened its own website – www.academica.lv
The Fraternity’s headquarters have been moved several times: in Latvian Scout Central organization’s Scouts Cluster 12 premises at K.Barona Street 50 (in 1925-II (second (fall) semester of 1925)), Elizabetes Street 31a–1 (in 1926-I (first (spring) semester of 1926)), Ādmiņu Street 9 (first (spring) semester of 1927 to May 31, 1929), Zigfrīda A. Meierovica Boulevard 9a –1 (May 31, 1929 to first semester of 1935), Zigfrīda A. Meierovica Boulevard 16–1 (second semester of 1935 to first semester of 1940), at Arturs Gružāns, 1937.II house in Jūrmala, Lielupe, Siguldas Street 5 (1990), in Disability Sports’ Club Optimists premises at Stabu Street 60 (1991), Basteja Boulevard 4–1 (1992–93), Alberta Street 9-10 (1994) and ever since 1995 privately owned quarters in Baznīcas Street 45-37.
Since its founding in 1925 Fraternitas Academica has accepted in its ranks 484 members who have come from a variety of disciplines and higher educational institutions as well as from various geographical locations.
As of first semester, 2020 there are 54 Fraternitas Academica pledges, active members, alumni and guarantors of the United Academic Fraternities’ Bylaws (Apvienoto Korporāciju komāns) living in Latvia, Australia, Canada and the United States of America.
Until the second semester, 2019, the alumni living abroad were joined in the Foreign Chapter of the Fraternity’s Alumni Association.