The oldest prize at Columbia, the Philolexian Prize was established in 1852 by the alumni of the society at the society's semi-centennial and first awarded in 1855. It was originally awarded in three categories, Oratory, Debate, and Essay to 8 recipients. In the early twentieth century the prize was awarded in Poetry, Prose and Essay. During Philo's mid-century dormancy the award became lost in the Columbia administrative jungle and ended up in the hand's of the English department. The awards were eventually combined into a general "Philolexian Prize" which, since the 1950's, has been awarded annually by Columbia University's English department.