From Engraved Announcements to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

I spent the weekend cataloging digital scans of 100+ year old chapter pictures. If I was so inclined, I could write a post on the evolution of the chapter composite. The women who are in the pictures, immortalized as young college women, are long gone from the world.

Some of the chapters whose chapter pictures I cataloged are no longer in existence. The chapters at Barnard College, Goucher College, and the College of Wooster were banned by college authorities. Others, like my own chapter at Syracuse University, were casualties of the ebb and flow of Greek life. The pictures proved that these chapters once existed and that there were members who had strong ties to them.

There are no living alumnae of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) chapters which once were at Barnard (before Columbia University went co-ed and NPC groups colonized there) and Wooster. The numbers of living Goucher College NPC women are dwindling with the youngest of these initiates at 80+ years-old. Artifacts like those early chapter composites and the engraved announcements shown below serve as tangible proof that there were once young college students who were members of the chapter. The chapter meant something to its members and the loss of the chapter mattered keenly to a good many of them.

These engraved announcements were popular among Greek-letter organizations from about the 1890s until the 1920s. Sending the announcements to the governing councils of the other Greek-letter organizations and the other chapters on a particular campus must have been an expensive and time consuming exercise. Today, social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) serves the same purpose.

KAT vandy

kkg tulanegamma phi washu

(c) Fran Becque,, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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The 5 Bs of Sorority Recruitment

Last week I visited a friend and caught up on about six month’s worth of life. I hadn’t really talked to her since I left my position as Executive Director of a local non-profit organization. It was a great job and I loved the people for whom I worked. However, coordinating the same three conferences a year made me feel like I was living the movie Groundhog Day. My passion is writing and talking about the history of Greek-letter Organizations (GLOs) and how that history connects with the present and future of these organizations. It was time to follow my passion. Luckily, I have a very understanding husband and family who encouraged me to take this leap of faith.

Telling my computer illiterate friend what I am now doing was a bit challenging (a blog? what’s a blog?). In response, she told me about her sorority experience. She is a charter member of a National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) sorority chapter, but she admitted she hadn’t done much with the organization since graduating in the 1950s. My friend told me how her 70+ year-old sister recently confided in her that one of her life’s most devastating moments was not getting an invitation to join her sister’s/my friend’s sorority.

I did not ask if her sister had her heart set on joining only that sorority and did not consider any other. The hurt was deep and nothing was going to change it, even though the event took place more than half-a-century ago.

In the ensuing decades, “rush” has become “recruitment.”  Excitement for recruitment season is beginning to grow at colleges and universities all over the country and Canada. I think it’s inevitable that a few women will be as disappointed as my friend’s sister; it would be wonderful if I am proven wrong.

My advice to those who are going through recruitment this year.

Be open to all organizations. Believe me when I tell you that you will have the same experiences in any of the 26 NPC organizations. When you strip away the colors, badges, symbols, songs, flowers, etc. you will see that we have much more in common than we have differences. The values and basic tenets of the organizations are very similar.

Be yourself and Be true to yourself.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be the very best version of yourself that you can be. That said, remember that just because your mom, sister, grandmother, or cousin twice removed belonged to XYZ, it doesn’t mean that you need to follow in her footsteps. While there may have been a time long ago when being a legacy meant an automatic bid, now some chapters have two, three and four times the amount of legacies going through recruitment than the number of women (quota) to whom they can offer bids.

Be hospitable and gracious. Do not talk up or down any organization with the other women going through recruitment. When talk turns to gossip, be the one who stops it. Remember that golden rule; if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

Be at Bid Day. See the process to the end. If you are not invited back to the chapter you had your heart set on, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and visit the chapters which invited you back. Don’t just drop out because the scenario did not play out the way you wanted it to. Sometimes things work out for the better despite the fact that they aren’t as we had anticipated them. I could fill a book with stories of women who could never have envisioned themselves in VWX chapter and yet, on graduation day, they couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. 

panhellenic dance ca

(c) Fran Becque,, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Sorosites = Sororities = Fraternities for Women = Women’s Fraternities

1573 - greeks at ku0002I found this gem in an 1880′s University of Kansas student publication, the Helianthus (Helianthus annuus is the common sunflower, the most ubiquitous flower in Kansas). The word “sorosites” was used in contrast to the word “fraternities.” It also tells some interesting history of the Greek-letter organizations at the University of Kansas.

Kansas Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi, University of Kansas, late 1800s (The I.C.s referred to in the previous picture.)

Kansas Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi, University of Kansas, late 1800s. (The I.C.s referred to in the above picture.)

Omega Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, University of Kansas, late 1800s.

Omega Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, University of Kansas, late 1800s.

Kappa Chapter of Kappa Alpha Thetas, University of Kansas, late 1800s

Kappa Chapter of Kappa Alpha Thetas, University of Kansas, late 1800s

“Why are some National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) groups women’s fraternities and some are sororities?” is a question I am often asked. It’s a tough one because the 26 NPC organizations are typically referred to as sororities in everyday conversation (i.e. sorority recruitment, office of fraternity and sorority life, etc.). In this blog I find myself referring to all the NPC members as sororities, even though I know fully well that the majority are women’s fraternities or fraternities for women. Trying to be true to those three designations gets difficult; for ease of reading I have gone to the colloquial “sororities.”

Credit for this dilemma is given to one man, Dr. Frank Smalley, a professor at Syracuse University. Gamma Phi Beta was founded at Syracuse in 1874. Eight years later, Gamma Phi Beta’s second chapter was founded at the University of Michigan. After the chapter was installed and the two delegates returned to Syracuse, an announcement about the new chapter appeared in the newspaper. On the following day, Smalley made his now-famous comment, “I presume that you young women are now members of a sorority,” thereby coining the word and bringing it into modern usage.*

In the October 1912 Crescent of Gamma Phi Beta, Smalley explained his use of the word, “It appears to me that the use of the word ‘sorority’ to indicate a college Greek-letter society of young women needs no defense.  It is to some extent a question of taste. The word ‘fraternity’ when used of such a society seems a little forced, although the comprehensive use of masculine terms to include women, sometimes justifies it. However, when we have a Latin form sororities, which is specific and exact, why should not the English form ‘sorority’ be used with the same exactness as we observe in the ordinary use of the pronouns he and she?” The roots of the word “fraternity” are in “phratia,” the Greek word meaning people who hold a common interest as well as the Latin word “fraternitas.”

Frank Smalley

Frank Smalley

On October 13, 1884, Smalley’s sister, Honta Smalley (Bredin), became a member of the Beta chapter; in 1888, she helped found its Epsilon Chapter at Northwestern University and served as Gamma Phi’s first national president. Smalley’s daughter, Carrie Elizabeth, was a member of Gamma Phi Beta’s Alpha Chapter.

Of the 26 NPC organizations, more than half are officially a women’s fraternity or a fraternity for women. Those officially a sorority are: Alpha Delta Pi; Alpha Epsilon Phi; Alpha Sigma Alpha; Alpha Sigma Tau; Delta Phi Epsilon; Delta Zeta; Gamma Phi Beta; Kappa Delta; Sigma Delta Tau; Sigma Kappa; and Sigma Sigma Sigma.

*Sir Thomas More (Saint Thomas More to Catholics) used the word “sorority” in the early 16th century, it is not known whether Smalley knew of More’s usage of this word.

(c) Fran Becque,, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Beta Theta Pi, Fran Favorite, Fraternity History, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, National Panhellenic Conference, Phi Kappa Psi, Pi Beta Phi, University of Kansas, Women's Fraternity History | Leave a comment

Kudos, Condolences, and a New View of the Moon Walk

I spent the past few days with Pi Phis at our first College Weekend. It’s an off convention year. A Leadership Academy for chapter officers took place in February and an Alumnae Leadership Summit was held last month. The College Weekend was an opportunity for young leaders to be immersed in one of four “college” learning tracks, each devoted to a topic – finances, recruitment, risk management and new member development. Shawn Eagleburger, a member of FarmHouse, serves as Pi Phi’s Member Services and Programming Director. He and his staff did a marvelous job!

Among the things I learned is the fact the some of today’s college women aren’t well versed in history. One young woman looked puzzled when I mentioned Carrie Chapman Catt; I flat out asked with a smile, “You don’t have a clue who Carrie Chapman Catt is, do you?” She sheepishly nodded and then she heard the short version of Catt’s life, whether she wanted to or not.

Later, I was talking to one of the headquarters employees, a Sigma Delta Tau, I mentioned Dr. Joyce Brothers, another Sigma Delta Tau. Again, I saw that quizzical look. A woman who parlayed an appearance on a 1950s quiz show into a life-long career and fame is one smart cookie. It’s a story every Sigma Delta Tau should be proud to tell. 


Congratulations are also in order for three of my fellow GLO historians/archivists. Each was honored at their respective conventions this summer. Bob McCully, Sigma Nu, was named to the Sigma Nu Hall of Honor. Mike McCoy, Phi Kappa Psi, was given its highest award, the Medal of Honor. Zeta Tau Alpha Patti Cords Levitte left convention with a piece of jewelry she did not have when she arrived, an honor ring. 

I know all too well the work involved in making an organization’s history come alive to its members. I applaud your efforts and I am grateful that we are kindred spirits trying to get today’s members of our respective organizations to understand that it was a different time and place when our organizations were founded. A hearty round of applause for my GLO friends, please.


I offer my sincere condolences to the women of Zeta Tau Alpha on the loss of their beloved Executive Director Deb Ensor. The outpouring of love from the other Greek groups was evident on Friday’s twitter feed (#DebStrong).


This weekend also marks the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. I didn’t know that his Phi Delta Theta badge made the journey with him, too. Armstrong was an initiate of the Purdue University chapter. Here’s a link to a wonderful article about Armstrong’s Phi Delta Theta connection


© Fran Becque,, 2014. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest


Posted in Carrie Chapman Catt, Fran Favorite, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Psi, Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Delta Tau, Sigma Nu, Women's Fraternity History, Zeta Tau Alpha | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Plaque, a Monument, and an Historic Meeting

A small article in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper prompted me to write a post for the Pi Phi blog. It was about a national historic designation being given to the site of a 1956 crash of two planes over the Grand Canyon. There were four Pi Phis killed in that crash. They were on the way home from the 1956 Pasadena convention. Not many Pi Phis know the story, so it seemed like a good time to tell it. That accident lead to the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration.

One of the comments to that post (on the Pi Phi Facebook page) touched my heart, My mother, a Montana Alpha, was proud to be able to attend this meeting. She was supposed to be on one of the flights but at the last moment she decided to fly north to visit her cousins that she had not seen in years. My father, at home with my three elder siblings, was initially panicked because he heard about the crash before Mom was able to connect with him to let him know her change of plans. Years later, thinking and talking about this would bring tears to Mom’s eyes. We were blessed that tragic day. Mom would have been pleased by this memorial to her Pi Phi friends.”

You can read the post at:



Congratulations to Phi Beta Sigma as it celebrates its Centennial at a convention in Washington, D.C. A monument at Howard University, where the fraternity was founded, will be unveiled tomorrow, it is dedicated to the fraternity’s  three founders.

Today’s events include a Sigma-Zeta Reaffirmation Ceremony. Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta are the only constitutionally bound Greek-letter brother and sister organization. Zeta Phi Beta is also convening in Washington, D.C. at its 2014 Grand Boule’.


One of the first attempts at inter-fraternalism between the Greek-letter organizations took place July 19 and 20, 1893 in Chicago.

1893 - 10002

1893 - 2

You can read more at:

© Fran Becque,, 2014. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest



Posted in Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities, Fran Favorite, Fraternity History, GLO, Greek-letter Organization, Phi Beta Sigma, Pi Beta Phi, Zeta Phi Beta | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The ABCs of NPC History


A – Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Theta Phi Alpha was founded.

Theta Phi Alpha Founders

Theta Phi Alpha Founders


B – Boston University, where Delta Delta Delta was founded.

(Sarah) Ida Shaw Martin, Delta Delta Delta Founder

(Sarah) Ida Shaw Martin, Delta Delta Delta Founder

C – Colby College, where Sigma Kappa was founded.

Sigma Kappa Founders

Sigma Kappa Founders


D – DePauw University, where Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Chi Omega were founded.

kat sign


E – Edgewater Beach Hotel, site of the 1917 National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) meeting.



F – Farmville Four - Kappa Delta, Zeta Tau Alpha, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and Alpha Sigma Alpha - were all founded at Longwood College (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia.

Gift of the Farmville Four to Longwood University. Each side of the clock has the letters of one of the four NPC groups founded there.

Gift of the Farmville Four to Longwood University. Each side of the clock has the letters of one of the four NPC groups founded there.


G – Gamma Phi Beta’s flower is the pink carnation.

pink carnation

H – Hera Day is celebrated each March 1 by Alpha Chi Omega members.


I – Ithaca, New York, home to Cornell University, where Sigma Delta Tau was founded.

Sigma Delta Tau Founders and Ritualist

Sigma Delta Tau Founders and Ritualist

J – Jobelle Holcombe, Chi Omega Founder, served as Chairman of the 1907 NPC meeting.



K – Knox College, where now resides the cornerstone of the home Alpha Xi Delta’s Alpha chapter occupied until Lombard College closed.

The cornerstone from the Alpha Xi Delta chapter house at Lombard College is next to this tower from Lombard College. They are located on the Knox College campus. Lombard did not merge with Knox, although many Lombard students finished their degrees at Knox and Knox welcomed the Lombard alumni as their own.

The cornerstone from the Alpha Xi Delta chapter house at Lombard College is next to this tower from Lombard College. They are located on the Knox College campus. Lombard did not merge with Knox, although many Lombard students finished their degrees at Knox and Knox welcomed the Lombard alumni as their own.


L – L. Pearle Green, Kappa Alpha Theta, served as Chairman of NPC in 1909 and 1949.

L. Pearle Green, Kappa Alpha Theta

L. Pearle Green, Kappa Alpha Theta

M – Monmouth College, where the Monmouth Duo – Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma – were founded. 

Vintage Monmouth College logo

Vintage Monmouth College logo

N - New York City, where Delta Phi Epsilon, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Omicron Pi and Phi Sigma Sigma were founded. Three institutions were involved – Barnard, Hunter, and NYU School of Law.



O – Oxford, Mississippi, where Delta Gamma was founded and Oxford, Ohio, where Delta Zeta was founded.


P – Panhellenic House, the hotel in New York City which was built for NPC women by NPC women. The building, today known as Silver Suites Residences at Beekman Tower and previously known as the Beekman Tower Hotel, still stands.

beekman 1931 new yorker

Q – Quill of Alpha Xi Delta is the name of the organization’s magazine.


R – R. Louise Fitch, Delta Delta Delta, was first Chairman of the NPC Editors’ group.

R. Louise Fitch

R. Louise Fitch

S – Syracuse Triad is comprised of Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, and Alpha Gamma Delta, the three NPC organizations founded at Syracuse University.

The Hall of Languages, Syracuse University, 2010

The Hall of Languages, Syracuse University, 2010


T – Theta Phi Alpha’s flower is the white rose.


U – University of Arkansas is the campus at which Chi Omega was founded.

The Chi Omega Amphitheater at the University of Arkansas

The Chi Omega Greek Theater at the University of Arkansas

V – Violets, albeit different varieties, are the flower of four NPC groups - Alpha Delta Pi, Sigma Kappa, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

Violets from my yard.

Violets from my yard.

W – Wesleyan College, Macon, Georgia, is the founding site of the “Macon Magnolias,” Alpha Delta Pi and Phi Mu.

Alpha Delta Pi Fountain at Wesleyan College

Alpha Delta Pi Fountain at Wesleyan College

X – Xi appears in only one NPC group’s name, Alpha Xi Delta.


Y – Ypsilanti, Michigan, is home of Eastern Michigan University, where Alpha Sigma Tau was founded.

AST badge

Z – Zeta Tau Alpha’s colors are turquoise blue and steel gray.


© Fran Becque,, 2014. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Fran Favorite, GLO, Greek-letter Organization, National Panhellenic Conference, Sorority History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Official Organ of” Meaning GLO Journals and Magazines

When I was at the Fraternity and Sorority Archives conference last month, a few of us had a discussion about the “official organs” of our organizations. The first issues of many of the fraternity and sorority magazines state “official organ of” in a prominent position. Was it due to mailing regulations or was it just accepted practice back then, from the late 1800s until the early 1900s?

And why the word “organ”? Some felt it was an odd word, even if it was a correct usage. According to the Merriam Webster Learner’s Dictionary, an organ is  a “newspaper, magazine, etc., that is published by a particular group and that gives the news and opinions of that group.”

A Kappa Kappa Gamma friend sent me this message which I think explains the use of the word, “When I studied journalism in college, ‘organs’ were clearly distinguished from other publications because they were naturally biased in favor of the publisher.  The term ‘organ’ was used for a distinct category of publication.”

The first fraternity magazine, Βηθα Θηθα Πι, belonging to the fraternity of the same name, made its debut on December 15, 1872.   The Scroll of Phi Delta Theta has been published continuously since 1875, making it the second oldest fraternity magazine.

beta mag

In the 20th edition of Baird’s Manual of American College Fraternities (1991), in the Alpha Sigma Phi listing, it is noted “The Tomahawk is the Fraternity’s quarterly national magazine and it is the oldest fraternity publication still in existence today since its founding in 1847.”  The publication which debuted in 1845 was The Yale Tomahawk, the forerunner of Alpha Sigma Phi’s fraternity magazine. Alpha Sigma Phi was founded in 1845 at Yale. The Tomahawk was the chapter newsletter, published in part, to fuel a rivalry with Kappa Sigma Theta’s The Yale Banger.  In 1852, The Tomahawk editors were expelled after violating faculty orders to cease publication. Volume 6 of The Tomahawk was published in 1909-10, so it is my guess that the magazine has not been printed continuously since 1847.  

chi phi

The Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma was the first women’s fraternity magazine published. Its existence was authorized by Kappa’s 1881 convention. The first issue appeared in May 1882 and was titled The Golden Key. The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta both debuted in 1885. Perhaps the creation of these two magazines came in response to the publication produced by the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter. The Pi Beta Phi and the Kappa Alpha Theta women on the University of Kansas campus likely heard of or saw The Golden Key. The magazines of the other NPC organization quickly came into existence. In fact, Delta Gamma’s magazine, The Anchora,  was the second NPC magazine to be published but it wasn’t created at the University of Kansas.

kappa lucy allen smart

The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi began publishing in 1885. The first issue states “the official organ of Pi Beta Phi.” Pi Beta Phi was the motto of I.C. Sorosis, a women’s fraternity founded at Monmouth College in 1867. Some chapters began using the Greek letters prior to the official change of name which took place at the 1888 convention. The chapter at Kansas University, the first women’s fraternity on that campus, published the first issue of the Arrow and it was also one of the first chapters to use the Greek letters of the motto. By 1888, when the chapter at the University of Iowa took over the responsibility of publishing the magazine, the words “organ of” were gone. In the 1910s, the words “a publication of” were included on the masthead.

photo (37)

© Fran Becque,, 2014. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

Posted in Beta Theta Pi, Chi Psi, Delta Gamma, Fran Favorite, Fraternity History, Fraternity Magazines, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Phi Delta Theta, Pi Beta Phi | Tagged , , | Comments Off

#FF Friday Follows – the Twitter Feed

I favorite a goodly number of twitter posts because they have info or pictures of interest. Here are a few of my favorite tweets from the last few days.


The first is about a fellow Pi Phi, but I would have used it whether or not we shared the arrow badge. Barbie is a wonderful and engaging speaker, and is equally gifted when writing speeches for others. In this TEDx presentation, she tells how to write an effect speech. It is worth watching. In the past couple of weeks, I used one of Barbie’s poems in a post. If you are interested, the post is at

Check out the TEDx presentation by Order of Omega Board Member Barbie Tootle.



“The sun did not shine…” Apparently the cat in the hat stepped in when Theodor Geisel was in the room.  Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was a Sigma Phi Epsilon. There is a post about him, along with another of my favorite pictures of him, at

Great photo of SigEp brother ! “: “: Dr. Seuss


Phi Kappa Psi’s Grand Arch Council is meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. A special guest at the meeting is the great-grandson of Phi Psi Co-Founder William Henry Letterman.

Gordon Letterman great grandson of Co-Founder William Henry Letterman enlightening the History Committee.


I am including two tweets from Tri Delta. A wonderful gift to St. Jude’s was announced at Tri Delta’s recent convention. What an ambitious goal (which I absolutely positive will be reached) and a worthy cause. My hat is off to the Tri Deltas. Sarah Ida Shaw is smiling down on your good works.

Were ready! has committed to raising $60 million for St Jude in 10 years

And because I think the world of Eve Riley, former President of Tri Delta and NPC Chairman, I’m including this tweet.

Eve Riley is the winner of the diamond Life Loyal badge because sometimes life is entirely too accurate.


I wrote a post about this one (scroll day a few posts) but I could not pass up the opportunity to use this picture of the bobblehead!

Celebrating 75 years since Brother Gehrig’s farewell speech. Proud supporter of finding a cure for ALS.

Posted in Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Delta Delta, Fran Favorite, Gamma Phi Beta, Ida Shaw Martin, Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Kappa Psi, Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Phi Epsilon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Carnation, Fleur-de-lis, and the End of Ladies’ Home Journal Monthly Magazine

Ladies’ Home Journal began in 1883. The July/August 2014 issue was the last monthly issue of the magazine and the last one that is being sent to subscribers. The magazine will still have a website and will be printed as a quarterly, newsstand-only publication.

When I was working on my dissertation, my adviser sent me on a wild goose chase. I spent hours and hours in SIUC’s Morris Library, flipping through bound issues of women’s magazines from the late 1800s. I no longer even remember why I was doing that, other than being a doctoral student meant going on a few wild goose chases.

Magazine page announcing, "After 131 incredible years, this is the last monthly issue of Ladies' Home Journal."

Magazine page announcing, “After 131 incredible years, this is the last monthly issue of Ladies’ Home Journal.”

Reading the announcement in the July/August 2014 issue reminded me of the time spent going through those old magazines. One of the discoveries I made has intrigued me for years.

As I was flipping through the March 1896 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal, I came upon a two-page spread. Both articles were by Nancy Mann Waddle. The one on the left-hand page was about carnations. The one on the right-hand side was about fleur-de-lis ( iris). My mind immediately thought “Monmouth Duo.” Both Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma were founded as women’s fraternities at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, in 1867 and 1870, respectively. Pi Phi’s flower is the wine carnation, Kappa’s flower is the fleur-de-lis.

Was Nancy Mann Waddle a Pi Phi or Kappa? I could find no record of her being a member of either organization. I am not sure she even attended college. Was there a fraternity woman involved in the placement of these two articles or was it just mere coincidence that they ended up in the same two-page spread? Unfortunately, I think it’s one of those questions to which we’ll never have an answer. It’s more a mystery left to the ages.

According to, Nancy Mann Waddle was born in 1866 in Chillicothe, Ohio. She later changed the spelling of Waddle to Waddel. On August 4, 1897, she married James Wilson Woodrow, a cousin of Woodrow Wilson. Some of the other names she used as by-lines were Jane Wade and Mrs. Wilson Woodrow. According to the website, she was a “Prolific contributor of short stories and articles to magazines such as McClure’s, Cosmopolitan, Life, Harper’s, American, and Good Housekeeping, wrote in a masculine voice, leading many editors to believe she was male using a female pseudonym; her style set her apart from sentimental female novelists and earnest feminists of the day; wrote 1 play and 13 novels, including The New Missioner (1907), The Silver Butterfly (1908), and The Black Pearl (1912); published series of satires of popular novels in Life (1905–06).”

LHJ flower carn


LHJ flower

© Fran Becque,, 2014. All rights reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Ruing Recruitment Ruses – Those Specious Fraternity Claims

This poster entitled “The truth about Greek life” is disingenuous. I was reading some Fraternity Insider newsletters written by Wilson Heller in the 1970s and he was railing about the “all but 2 U.S. Presidents” stat touted on the poster below. Heller was calling the statistic inaccurate in the 1970s and he was correct then. The statistic hasn’t been valid since the 1960s, and, even then, Heller took offense because some of those Presidents were honorary members. More than 40 years later, that stat is still being touted as true, when it is patently false. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know it’s one of my pet peeves. (See and

Another untruth used on recruitment tools is  “Both female U.S. Supreme Court Justices are Greek.” News flash, folks, it’s 2014 and four women have served on the U.S. Supreme Court. Only one, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alpha Epsilon Phi, is a member of a National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organization. Although there are rumors to the contrary, Sandra Day O’Connor is not a sorority woman. She attended Stanford University when there were no NPC chapters on campus.

Another incorrect “fact” is that the first woman in space was a sorority woman. Sally Ride was not, but there have been many others who are. See  for that list.

Fraternity and sorority life has so much to offer and I consider myself a cheerleader for the experience (and if you doubt me, read the other 400+ posts on here), but I cringe when I see these claims. The truth is much more effective and compelling than these outdated, specious statistics.

It really should be called the "No So True Guide" See the NIC and NPC facts below.

It really should be called the “No So True Guide.” See the NIC and NPC facts below.

Facts from the North American Interfraternity Conference website for the fraternities which belong to that organization:

(*) Compiled from Member Fraternities in the NIC Standards Compliance Report for the 2012-2013 Academic Year

The 2012-2013 National Panhellenic Conference statistics for the 26 women’s fraternities and sororities belonging to that organization:

College Panhellenics
(460 of 569 reporting)
• 569 College Panhellenics
• 850,411 hours donated to community service efforts
• $5,276,728 raised for philanthropies
Alumnae Panhellenics
(108 of 197 reporting)
• 197 Alumnae Panhellenics
• 53,394 hours donated to community service
• $438,757 raised for scholarships
• 412 scholarships awarded
• $82,247 raised for philanthropies

There are also fraternities and sororities which belong to other umbrella organizations including the National Pan-Hellenic Council, National Multicultural Greek Council, and the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations for which I could not find the statistical information, but each organization adds to the philanthropy service hours and funds raised.

This poster recently came across my twitter feed and I love it! It states the facts about Greek life opportunities at Indiana University. It doesn’t infer cozy relationships between being a member of a Greek organization and becoming President, a member of Congress, the first person to do something spectacular or connections to any famous people.

And in keeping with Murphy’s Law, the second I hit “publish” I saw another poster similar to this is on my twitter feed.


This poster appeared on my twitter feed from @UMD_GreekTerps the University of Maryland Department of Fraternity & Sorority Life. I believe they are producing them for the Big 10 Universities. Terrific job Terps!

un of iowa

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