In 1879, two brothers of Phi Kappa Psi felt a duty to rekindle a defunct Phi Psi Monthly publication that had not appeared since 1876. Edgar Fahs Smith Gettysburg 1873 and Otis H. Kendall Penn 1878 felt the Fraternity would benefit from reforming a monthly publication devoted solely to Phi Psi interests. Once Smith settled on the name, the first volume was published, a total of eight pages, in November of 1879. It opened with a poem, then featured the desires of the editors before containing the correspondence of the Fraternity’s chapters around the country. Brothers Smith and Kendall carried the burden of all production costs for that first issue, and some financial contributions allowed for the continuation. They would produce The Shield on a monthly basis, with trepidation for the next three years and volumes. A story was told later by Brother Smith’s wife that the cost of producing the periodical became so tight that he actually delayed purchasing an overcoat at one point to assure The Shield was printed and distributed.
The first three volumes of The Shield contain some of the most valuable, historical accounts of the Fraternity, with many issues featuring the letters of some brothers initiated in the formative, early years of Phi Kappa Psi. With the publishing of the April 1882 issue, the original Shield came to an end, no longer sustainable for its founders who recognized that they would drive themselves into debt for a magazine that was not generating sufficient subscription revenue. The magazine would be suspended for a year, until April of 1883, this time sponsored by the Grand Chapter and more sustainable, as originally hoped by its originators. That year, The Shield was edited by C. L. Van Cleve Ohio Wesleyan 1877. He would be called back to editor duty in 1887, when the duties of producing the magazine were finally voted into the control of the Executive Council, who still holds the authority to publish the magazine to this day. Over time, The Shield evolved to its present form, a quarterly publication, consisting of Fraternity updates, news and features. The By-laws of the Fraternity provide for the lifetime subscription of the magazine to all members upon the payment of their initiation fee. Not only is The Shield one of the oldest Greek publications in the United States, but the Fraternity’s commitment to a full-length, full-color quarterly publication has become more rare in the modern world. In 2011, in conjunction with the creation of this online archive of all past issues of The Shield, Phi Kappa Psi scaled back circulation based on the desires of its members. Not only is the magazine still mailed to nearly 30,000 people around the world, but it is fully accessible online.