The Society of Damned Souls (active 1926–1927) was a short-lived student atheist group at the University of Rochester, then a Baptist institution. It was apparently the first student atheist group to form in response to an effort by the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (the "Four A’s") to launch a "junior atheist movement"—though it is not entirely clear that its organizers initially intended to form an actual on-campus atheist club.
Salvatore Russo (class of 1929), an ex-Catholic-turned-atheist who wrote occasional articles for the national freethought newspaper The Truth Seeker, founded the group in March 1926. Its original membership comprised eleven men and two women. Russo appears to have invented the group’s name when speaking to a reporter from a local Hearst newspaper, the Rochester Journal. A media frenzy resulted. The Associated Press distributed the story nationwide; the New York Times published a story of its own; and the Society of Damned Souls secured mention in two successive issues of Time magazine. The story even made the Paris edition of the New York Herald. For better or worse, the Damned Souls were off and running.