The society was founded June 22, 1844. At this meeting, the Fraternity's secret and open Greek mottos were devised. The open motto is "Kerothen Philoi Aei" ("Friends from the Heart, Forever"). The pin and secret handshake was also devised. The DKE pin shows ΔΚΕ on a scroll, upon a diamond with a star in each corner. DKE's official colours are blue, gold, and red and its flag is a triband of those colours with a left-facing rampant lion in the middle.
Since that time, DKE has grown to over 64 chapters and has initiated over 85,000 members across North America.
DKE initiates are branded with a small Δ.
Notable alumni include: George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Gerald Ford, Theodore Roosevelt, Rutherford Hayes, Mario Garcia Menocal, Dick Clark, Alan Bean, Admiral Robert Peary, Jonathan Winters, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Cole Porter, Lloyd Nolan, Harry Hamlin, Charles Ives, Tom Landry, Joe Paterno, George Steinbrenner, Bobby Jones, Calvin Hill, Bob Pettit, William Wrigley, Howard Heinz, Howard Johnson, James Gamble, and Sydney Colgate.