May 31, 1886 – “Wrought and Thought and Prayed Together”

This post is by my friend Penny Proctor. She is a Pi Phi’s whose name was known to me long before I met her. She was the winner of the Amy Burnham Onken, award, one of Pi Phi’s highest individual awards. She is a proud alumna of Hillsdale College and received her law degree from the University of Michigan.

Fran’s blog inspired me to do my own research, and although I wasn’t expecting to find a connection between Memorial Day and women’s fraternities, I came across this account of a memorial service on May 31, 1886 at my alma mater, Hillsdale College.  The holiday wasn’t generally called Memorial Day then, and at Hillsdale College, it wasn’t even called Decoration Day; instead, it was an annual event with no particular name but of huge importance to the small school.  During the War, 183 Hillsdale students joined the Union Army, representing the highest percentage of student body of any college or university to enlist.  While the community celebrated Decoration Day, the College held a service every May 31st to honor the sacrifices of all who served and died in the defense of the nation.   

In 1886, the memorial was held downtown at the Opera Hall, with the entire campus and community invited.  The speakers were students who led the audience in a reverent remembrance through music, poetry, and prose.  Among them was sophomore Minta Morgan, a music major known for her clarity and style in public speaking. She delivered an original oration, “Our Uncrowned Heroines,” which focused on the role, sacrifices and accomplishments of women during the War. Here’s an excerpt:  

The American women proceeded to organize relief for [their loved ones in the Army].  They did it … with a self-controlled and rational consideration as to the wisest and best ways of accomplishing their purpose.  The distinctive features of the women’s work in the War were the magnitude, system, co-operation with the other sex, clearness of purpose, and steady persistency until the end. 

[They] wrought and thought and prayed together, and from that hour, the womanhood of our country has united in a bond which the softening influence of peace will not weaken or dissolve. 

Reading this, it occurred to me that these words partly explained by women felt the time was right to form their own college fraternities shortly after the War ended.  The years of conflict showed them their own strength, individually and in a group dedicated to a common purpose.  And who better than young women, bucking convention to pursue higher education, to realize the concept of “girl power”?   

Actually, these words also foreshadowed Minta’s future.  Less than a year later – 51 weeks, to be exact –  Minta became a charter member of Michigan Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi.  She truly believed that women united in a bond of sisterhood could accomplish great things.   

Minta Morgan

Minta Morgan

It’s a digression from the intentions of Memorial Day, but this weekend, I will be remembering the courage of all the women during and after the Civil War, and how their actions then are still resonating today.   

Sources:  Moore, Vivian L.  The First Hundred Years of Hillsdale College (Ann Arbor Press, 1944)
Morgan, Minta.  “Our Uncrowned Heroines.” Hillsdale Herald, 10 June 1886, page 1
Photo from the Archives of Hillsdale College

© Fran Becque,, 2016. 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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Happy 114th @NPCWomen! “We Trust Nothing Will Prevent Your Being Present”

On May 17, 1902, Alpha Phi National President Margaret Mason Whitney sent postcards to the women who were scheduled to attend the first meeting on May 24, 1902.

Inter-sorority Conference, Chicago

On May 24 (Saturday) at 2:30 p.m. (sharp) the following representatives of Greek letter national college fraternities will meet at Mandel’s Tea Room to discuss rushing and pledging.

Pi Beta Phi, Miss Gamble, Detroit, Mich

Kappa Alpha Theta, Miss Laura Norton, 2556 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago

Kappa Kappa Gamma, Miss Margaret Jean Paterson, 6117 Kimbark Ave.

Delta Gamma, Miss Nina F. Howard, Glencoe, Ill.

Gamma Phi Beta, Miss Lillian Thompson, 326 W. 61st Place

Delta Delta Delta, Miss Kellerman 

Alpha Phi, Miss Ruth Terry, 1812 Hinman Ave., Evanston

We trust nothing will prevent your being present.

Margaret Mason Whitney, President Alpha Phi

May 17, 1902

Two of the organizations which were issued invitations, Chi Omega and Alpha Chi Omega, were indeed unable to be present. Typhoid Fever kept the Chi Omega National President from attending. Both organizations sent representatives to the 1903 meeting.

 The National Panhellenic Conference, the umbrella organization of 26 women’s fraternities and sororities, turns 114 this year. Lillian W. Thompson, Gamma Phi Beta, served as Chairman at the 1913 meeting. She also attended the 1902 meeting and shared her experiences in an article in the Crescent of Gamma Phi Beta. It was reprinted in many of the other magazines in 1913.

This sort of meeting was quite new to me. I had only the vaguest idea of what the delegates were expected to do; and having been brought up in the good old school in which those who were not of were against us, I had no great desire to meet my friends the enemy. There was no time to debate, however, and nothing to do but to go, so one afternoon in September, I entered the lunch room at Mandels’ looking for a group of women wearing fraternity pins. I easily found them, introduced myself, and then racked my brains for topics of conversation which should be both polite and safe; for I had a most uneasy feeling that some fraternity secret might escape me unawares, and fall into hostile hands.

Mandel Brothers Store, Chicago, early 1900s

Mandel Brothers Store, Chicago, early 1900s

The group moved from Mandels’ to the site of the meeting itself. 

Miss [Minnie Ruth] Terry, the delegate from Alpha Phi, whose duty it was to make all the arrangements, had found a most appropriate place for our meeting — a safety deposit vault; and before long we were admitted through heavy iron gratings to a long passage way, which led at last to a director’s room, closed by a massive wooden door which seemed amply able to keep the biggest secrets from escaping to the outer world. We all sat down at the big table, and for the first few minutes there seemed to be a be a vague feeling of insecurity — of suspense. We were waiting, I think, for that illusive, and yet most potent thing, ‘the tone of the meeting’ to be established, and until some one supplied it we were ill at ease. This duty fell to Miss Terry, our chairman, and as I look back on that first meeting, I can plainly see that the whole Pan-Hellenic movement was given its successful start by her. Miss Terry is one of those calm, well balanced, fair-minded women, who state business in such a clear unbiased way that one feels impelled at once to consider things without prejudice.  Gradually we all warmed to the work, forgot our strangeness, and talked over Alpha Phi’s rushing agreement with the utmost interest and frankness. Before we left, a most friendly spirit had developed; we had enjoyed our afternoon, saw plenty of work ahead of us, and looked forward with pleasure to meeting again.

Columbus Building, 31 North State Street, Chicago

Columbus Building, 31 North State Street, Chicago

Thompson continued:

In a year or so, the director’s room became too small for us. A morning meeting was added to the afternoon session, and we decided to meet at a hotel and to take lunch together, that we might have more opportunity to get acquainted. By this time I had begun to discover a number of ‘typical Gamma Phis’ who had mysteriously strayed into other fraternities. The discussions, too, had been bringing out the strong points of the various societies….At each meeting we learned some scheme which we longed to try in our own fraternity, and went home full of plans for introducing it.

With 11 years of experiences on which to reflect, she added:

As year after year went by, we were delighted to see the work of our conference succeeding, though slowly. Our own meetings seemed like the chapter meetings of some fraternity, rather than a gathering of delegates from so many different groups. It is astonishing to me, as I look back, to note the unruffled peace and good will of our conferences. Even when there were disputes to settle, there was no bitterness or suspicion. Everyone knew that every one else was trying to find out what was best and how to do it. This feeling of kindliness and confidence has been the greatest result of our meetings. If we can pass this on to the fraternity world, we shall have done the one thing necessary to remove all criticisms of fraternities.

Lillian Thompson, a member of Gamma Phi Beta's second chapter at the University of Michigan, was Gamma Phi's National Panhellenic Conference Delegate for 34 years. She served as Chairman of the 1913 meeting.

Lillian Thompson, a member of Gamma Phi Beta’s second chapter at the University of Michigan, was Gamma Phi’s National Panhellenic Conference Delegate for 34 years. She served as Chairman of the 1913 meeting.

*For more about Ivy Kellerman Reed, Ph.D., Tri Delta’s representative,  see

© Fran Becque,, 2016. 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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Glitter and Glue and Letting Go With Both Hands

When I listen to audiobooks, I need to like the narrator’s voice. In preparation for an upcoming drive to the Fraternity and Sorority Archivist Conference, I tested out the first disc of Glitter and Glue written and read by Kelly Corrigan.

Instead of listening to a snippet, I went through the first disc on Friday night and began listening again on Saturday morning. I listened and listened until there were no more discs to cue up. In the narrative, I heard mention of Lambda Chi (“Lambda Chi on a Friday night,” perhaps) and the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond always leads me to think of May Lansfield Keller, the “Iron Dean” of Westhampton College. Westhampton was the coordinate to the all-male University of Richmond (which enrolled a few women before Westhampton was created which is more information than you ever wanted to know). I asked myself when Richmond allowed sororities, because I remember several NPC groups colonized at about the same time. One of the chapters was the Virginia Eta chapter of Pi Beta Phi and the pledging ceremony took place in Keller Hall, which is not the same as May Keller’s former residence, the Deanery. Keller, in addition to being the first Dean of Westhampton, was Grand President of Pi Beta Phi from 1908-18, an important decade in Pi Phi’s history. That is how my brain works; after that thought process I began to figure out the author’s age and whether she would have been at Richmond before or after the NPC groups came to campus.

I did what I tend to do. I googled. Up popped an announcement that Kelly Corrigan was to be a featured speaker at the 2014 Grand Convention of Kappa Alpha Theta. Then it came back to me. This was the author and book that Noraleen Young, Theta’s archivist, suggested to me at the 2014 Fraternity and Sorority Archivist’s Conference. That post on Theta’s website told me what I wanted to know. Corrigan was a member of the charter class of Theta’s Epsilon Psi Chapter when it was installed at the University of Richmond in 1987.

While it took me two years to get to the book, I needed its message now. The voice in Corrigan’s head belongs to her mother Mary; I love how Corrigan recreated the voice as she read the book. The voice in my head also belongs to a woman named Mary, however, I haven’t heard her real voice since 2001.

I remember 2001, that year of death and dying. On one of my calls home from Florida, where each day involved a trip to the hospital, doctors, and health-care professionals, my daughter told me that she passed her driving test. Proudly, she said she could ferry her brothers around in addition to getting herself where she needed to be, using my car. The thought that flashed through my head was “OH NO!!” I was in the midst of letting go with both hands. My mother was dying and my daughter was flying the coop. Parenting is the hardest, most infuriating, most difficult, and yet, oddly, the most rewarding job there is. At least that is how I see it. And as we became the last one in the line, it’s the people we love the most who live on in our life, in our heart, and in our head.  It is a simple, yet profound message.  Is my voice in the heads of my sons and daughter?

glitter and glue

Now on to find another of Kelly Corrigan’s books to listen to on my drive. This time I will not start listening until I start the car and head north through the corn canyon.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. 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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Congrats Grads! You’re Now GLO Alums

Congratulations 2016 graduates! This weekend’s twitter feed has been full of commencement pictures. To commence is to begin. That college days end with a commencement ceremony is important. In finishing a college degree, one begins a new adventure. 

From the Dickinson College twitter feed.

From the Dickinson College twitter feed.

At the onset, four years seems like a mighty long time. In a little while, the fraternity and sorority members who are among the graduates, will soon realize that they are among the alumnae and alumni of the organization. (The graduates of the women’s GLOs are alumnae, not alumni). Admit it current GLO members, the alums always seem so OLD! For the Class of 2016, the collegiate part of the GLO journey has come to an end. A lucky few have been hired by their respective organizations as traveling consultants. They’ll spend a year visiting chapters, offering advice, and being ambassadors for the organization they represent.

Fraternity and sorority graduates, please note that this is not the end of the membership journey. It is the beginning of your life as an alumna or alumnus. Seize the opportunity to be a part of the alum life of your GLO. If there is an alum club/chapter where you’ll be heading, join it. Give to your organization’s foundation. I know you’re probably strapped for cash and don’t have much money. Give up the cost of two grand venti coffees and send it to your organization’s foundation. Give at least $10 or $20 this year, and a little more the next year. Get in the habit of giving to your GLO.

Work for your organization. It can be as simple as being on the lookout for potential new members. Speak of the good things your organization does. Keep current – read the magazine, visit the web-site, sign up for tweets. Volunteer to work with a chapter, or put your name in the hat for committee work. Every national/international officer once was in the same place you find yourself today.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy life ahead. And remember when you speak of your membership in a fraternity or sorority, say  “I am an ABC” not “I was an ABC.”

The tradition of wearing GLO stoles and cords has caught on in the last few decades. The cords are usually intertwined lengths of cording in the GLO’s colors. Some of the stoles are simple with just the Greek letters. Others have chapter names and the graduate’s name embroidered on it.

The tradition of wearing GLO stoles and cords (pictured above) has caught on in the last few decades. The cords are usually intertwined lengths of cording in the GLO’s colors.

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On Chi Psi’s Founders’ Day, a Shout Out to Gabbie

Happy Founders’ Day, Chi Psi! The post below is doing an encore performance. It’s late morning and I just am too swamped to write another post, but I do not want the day to go by without acknowledging it. Last month, a friend of mine, Gabrielle Rimmaudo, began working at Chi Psi headquarters. She is the Director of Education and Growth to the Central Office staff.

Gabbie was initiated into the Zeta Tau Alpha chapter at George Mason University. While in St. Louis, she served as an alumnae advisor to the UMSL chapter and was a member of the Zeta alumnae chapter there. Gabbie writes a blog ( She loves the history of Greek-letter organizations, too. Best wishes on your new adventure, Gabbie, and I hope our paths cross again soon.

On May 20, 1841, Chi Psi was founded at Union College in Schenectady, New York. It was the fifth fraternity founded at Union College. Its founders are Philip Spencer, Robert Heyward McFaddin, Jacob Henry Farrell, John Brush Jr., Samuel Titus Taber, James Lafayette Witherspoon, William Force Terhune, Alexander Peter Berthoud, James Chatham Duane, and Patrick Upshaw Major.


In 1846, Chi Psi became the first fraternity to own a structure in which to meet. The 1935 edition of Baird’s Manual of American College Fraternities described the facility, “Epsilon, established in 1845 at Michigan, was the first western chapter. About the middle of April 1846, it built a log cabin in the woods near Ann Arbor for the specific purpose of providing a meeting place for Chi Psi at a time when the faculty was hostile to fraternities. This cabin was 20 x 24 feet and was located at the present site of Forest Hill Cemetery. In a sense this cabin may be called the prototype of the modern fraternity house.”

A rendering of the Chi Psi lodge at Ann Arbor, considered the first fraternity house.

A rendering of the Chi Psi lodge at Ann Arbor, considered the first fraternity house.

In the March 1914 issue of Banta’s Greek Exchange, Clarence F. Birdseye, was mentioned in an article titled “A Discussion on Travelling Secretaries.” It was written by C.C. Chambers, Phi Gamma Delta. Birdseye had written two books, Individual Training in Our Colleges and The Reorganization of our Colleges, published in 1907 and 1909, respectively. Chambers, a field secretary himself, wrote “In discussing the organization and administration of fraternities and their relation to college life, Mr. Birdseye made the suggestion of a salaried official in each fraternity who would devote his entire time to conducting the business of the national organization and to visiting the different chapters to advise and aid them in their work. The older and more conservative fraternity men did not take kindly to this idea. To them fraternity work was a work of love and they did not want to see it commercialized. But the wisdom of Mr. Birdseye’s statements impressed many Greek letter people and the idea of salaried full time official spread Mr. Birdseye’s own fraternity, Chi Psi, put his plan in operation and others soon followed until at the present time eight fraternities employ men to devote their entire time to fraternity work and five others retain salaried officers who devote a great part of their time to the work. At least seven other fraternities are seriously considering the adoption of this plan. Two fraternities have developed it to the point where they employ two salaried officers and one of these is about to go a step further and add a third man to the staff.”

The name Clarence Birdseye should ring a bell if you’ve traveled the frozen food aisle of a grocery store. So, was the Birdseye who wrote about field secretaries the same Birdseye of frozen food fame? They were both named Clarence Frank Birdseye. They were not the same person. Instead, they were father and son. Both were members of Chi Psi. The younger Birdseye, the one of frozen food fame, dropped out of Amherst College due to a lack of funds. He worked as a taxidermist for a time. He also experimented with the freezing process, started a business, lost a business, started another business and, this time, he was successful. In 1929, Goldman Sachs and the Postum Company purchased the the younger Birdseye’s company. The price was $22 million. He continued to work for the company and developed more frozen food technology. In 1930, grocery stores in Springfield, Massachusetts became the test market for the frozen foods produced by the company. The rest is history.

"The quote that accompanies Birdseye’s picture — “I ain’t afeer’d o’bugs, or toads, or worms, or snakes, or mice, or anything” — is a fabrication of the Olio editors; the reference to Birdseye’s absence during junior year is the result of a reversal of the Birdseye family fortunes. Young Clarence could no longer afford the cost of college and did not return to Amherst after completing his Sophomore year in the spring of 1908." (Photo courtesy of Amherst College Archives)

“The quote that accompanies Birdseye’s picture — “I ain’t afeer’d o’bugs, or toads, or worms, or snakes, or mice, or anything” — is a fabrication of the Olio editors; the reference to Birdseye’s absence during junior year is the result of a reversal of the Birdseye family fortunes. Young Clarence could no longer afford the cost of college and did not return to Amherst after completing his Sophomore year in the spring of 1908.” (Photo and caption courtesy of Amherst College Archives)

The Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College has some materials relating to the younger Birdseye. For more information, see

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Harvard’s Secret Court of 1920 – Déjà Vu All Over Again?

Harvard University recently issued an edict which stated that no member of a single-gender organization, i.e., fraternity, sorority, final club, etc., could captain a sports team, ironically most of which are single-gender, or obtain college endorsement for select fellowships (see A member of a Harvard fraternity told me about another dark episode in Harvard’s past. The Secret Courts of 1920 ruined the lives of a number of Harvard students who were alleged to be homosexuals. A witch hunt had taken place in 1920; would witch hunts begin happening in the 2020s when students would have to sign an oath that they were not or had never been a member of a single-gender organization? Is history going to repeat itself soon? 

The story which took place nearly 100 years ago did not come to light until 2002. Harvard Crimson reporter, Amit R. Paley, then a Harvard sophomore, was researching an article about another topic and came across a vague reference to the “Secret Court.” When asked if he could see the files, the Archives refused to allow him access. Paley was told to contact Harry R. Lewis, the Dean of the College. Lewis refused Paley access to the files. Paley appealed Lewis’ decision. An advisory committee was formed to decide on the matter and, after months of deliberation, allowed the files to be released. However, the names of the students involved were redacted – blacked out. Requests for unredacted files were denied. Paley and his colleagues spent months combing through documents to piece together the identities of the Harvard students whose lives were forever changed by the actions of the secret tribunal. 

The stumbling upon of the reference to the Secret Court led Paley on a six-month mission to tell the story of the men whose lives were forever changed after they were summoned to appear before the secretive body. The tribunal was headed by Acting Dean Chester Noyes Greenough; he reported to the President of Harvard University, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, who is pictured below on the cover of Time. Lowell’s decisions were final.

Paley’s two part-article is located at and For Paley’s account of the story before the story, see 


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Which Children of U.S. Presidents Belong to Fraternities and Sororities?

Below is a list, as best as I can uncover, of the fraternities and sororities to which the offspring of U.S. Presidents have been members. Additions and/or corrections are always welcomed.

Chester Alan Arthur II (Chester A. Arthur), Zeta Psi?

Barbara Pierce Bush (George W. Bush), Kappa Alpha Theta

George W. Bush (George H.W. Bush), Delta Kappa Epsilon 

Jenna Bush Hager (George W. Bush), Kappa Alpha Theta

Marvin P. Bush (George H. W. Bush), Delta Phi Fraternity (St. Elmo Hall)

John Coolidge (Calvin Coolidge), Phi Gamma Delta

Michael Gerald Ford (Gerald Ford), Sigma Chi

Susan Ford (Gerald Ford), Zeta Tau Alpha Alumna Initiate

Abram Garfield Williams (James A. Garfield), Alpha Delta Phi

Harry Augustus Garfield (James A. Garfield), Alpha Delta Phi

Irvin McDowell Garfield (James A. Garfield), Alpha Delta Phi

James Rudolph Garfield (James A. Garfield), Alpha Delta Phi

Jesse Root Grant (Ulysses S. Grant), Kappa Alpha Society

Russell Benjamin Harrison (Benjamin Harrison), Zeta Psi

Elizabeth Harrison Walker (Benjamin Harrison), Alpha Omicron Pi

Rutherford Platt Hayes (Rutherford B. Hayes), Delta Kappa Epsilon

Scott Russell Hayes (Rutherford B. Hayes), Delta Kappa Epsilon

James Webb Cook Hayes (Rutherford B. Hayes), Delta Kappa Epsilon

Birchard Austin Hayes (Rutherford B. Hayes), Delta Kappa Epsilon

Lynda Bird Johnson Robb (Lyndon B. Johnson), Zeta Tau Alpha

Lincoln, Robert Todd (Abraham Lincoln), Delta Kappa Epsilon (Delta Chi later in life according to a post on the DKE website)

Robert Alphonso Taft (William Howard Taft), Psi Upsilon

Mary Margaret Truman Daniel (Harry S. Truman), Pi Beta Phi

David Gardiner Tyler (John Tyler), Phi Kappa Psi

Lyon Gardiner, (John Tyler), Kappa Sigma

Jessie Woodrow Wilson (Woodrow Wilson), Gamma Phi Beta

Margaret Woodrow Wilson (Woodrow Wilson), Gamma Phi Beta

Jane L(ingo, Margaret Truman, President and Mrs. Truman. (Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.)

Jane Lingo, Margaret Truman, President and Mrs. Truman. (Harry S. Truman Library & Museum.)

Additionally, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. was initiated into Phi Psi, a local social fraternity which had been the Rhode Island Alpha Chapter of national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity until 1978. Kennedy graduated from Brown in 1983.

I do not want to get in the rabbit hole of Presidential grandchildren, because I would be there for days. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson, John Tyler’s granddaughter, is a founder of Kappa Delta.

Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson

Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson

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Doris Holmes Blake, Alpha Delta Pi #amazingsororitywoman

Alpha Delta Pi was founded as the Adelphean Society on May 15, 1851 at Wesleyan Female College in Macon, Georgia. In 1905, the Society changed its name to Alpha Delta Phi. With the installation of its Beta Chapter at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Alpha Delta Phi became a national organization.

The third chapter was founded at Mary Baldwin Seminary, in Staunton, Virginia, in 1906, the same year that Macon, Georgia was the site of its first national convention. Alpha Delta Phi joined the National Panhellenic Conference in 1909.

The installation of the Sigma Chapter at the University of Illinois in 1912 came shortly after the installation, on the same campus, of the Illinois Chapter of Alpha Delta Phi, a men’s fraternity whose chapters were primarily in the northeast. Alpha Delta Phi, the men’s fraternity, was founded in 1832 at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. The women made their organization aware of this duplication of name and the problems that surfaced because of it. In 1913, the convention body voted to change the name  to Alpha Delta Pi.

On December 16, 1911, the first chapter in the northeast was installed. Doris Holmes was one of  the charter members of the Rho Chapter at Boston University. In 1916, she was included in an Adelphean article entitled “Some Acorns of Alpha Delta Pi.” They were called acorns because, it was said, “You remember the adage ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow,’ so it is possible that by introducing AΔΠ to some of their own acorns they may get a vision of the great oak forest of the future of AΔΠ. And we believe that there are signs of a strong and sturdy youth which bodes well for maturity.” As a young alumna, she was working as a “secretary to Professor Yerkes, head of the psycholobical work at the Psychopathic Hospital, Boston. In addition she is studying child psychology under Professor W. F. Dearborn.” In the article she told of her duties, “I take down all the interviews when the patients are examined and prepare them for the files.” She added, “Isn’t the vocabulary fiendish? I thought at first sight I would get signs for the frightfully long names the doctors use, but I finally worked out a little system of my own, and once you get the idea it is easy, and so interesting.” When asked what she did in her spare time, she replied, “Oh, I’m working for my A.M. at Radcliffe.” The author of the article “gasped at Doris, and came home; thinking that it would not be strange if our quiet, retiring little Doris would not be the one to introduce AΔΠ into Who’s Who.”

In 1918, Holmes  received her A.M. from Radcliffe College. That year, she married  her childhood sweetheart, Sidney Fay Blake, Ph.D. According to the marriage announcement in The Adelphean, “Previous to her marriage, Doris was working in the Psychopathic Hospital connected with the Laboratory of Social Hygiene at Bedford Hills, New York, an experiment of Mr. Rockefeller to investigate delinquents at the Bedford Reformatory. She hopes to carry on the psychopathic study, to which she has devoted the past five years, in reconstructive war work. Dr. Blake has spent several years studying in Europe, and is now botanist in the Department of Agriculture.”

Doris Holmes Blake, Alpha Delta Pi

Doris Holmes Blake, Alpha Delta Pi

In 1921 Doris Holmes Blake wrote The Adelphean that she was “enjoying immensely the informal monthly meetings of the Alpha Delta Pi girls who are living in Washington,
D. C.” In November 1921, she composed a letter which was published in the same volume of The Adelphean:

I am writing from our Washington, D. C, Alpha Delta Pi Club for the purpose of rounding up any other Alpha Deltas in our vicinity. We feel that there must be some wandering through this metropolis now and then and not knowing of our existence here.

During the war time we held nightly monthly meetings, but now everyone is going home and our club is dwindled down to about ten. As it is, we have a fairly representative group: Mrs. Lucas, Mrs. White and her two daughters, Roberta and Josephine, from Georgia; Mrs. Pollard (Ethel Knight) from Alabama; Mrs. Wiegel from Ohio; Florence Heddon from Iowa, Mrs. Bartlett (Helen Allen) and myself from Boston.

Armistice Day has come and gone in Washington. It was a great day. Some of us managed to get to Arlington amid the thousands that attended. The Amphitheatre in that great soldiers’ cemetery is built on a hillside overlooking the Potomac, and beyond Washington and the Maryland hills. It is a beautiful, round, colonnaded, marble structure set among dark fir trees. That day the place was thronged with men of all nations,—the Blue-cloaked Frenchmen, the English in all their gold braid, the almost barbaric splendor of the Japanese in their waving plumes, and strangest of all a group of full feathered Indians.

Most impressive it was to watch these high officials passing up and down the marble stairs. But the greatest moment of all came when we heard the distant beating of drums and gradually the low, mournful music, the funeral march, and then the procession appeared,—the horses slowly pacing, the soldiers in their measured tread, and the casket borne by the six black horses, and followed by a long, long line of military men that passed slowly before us, surrounding the Amphitheatre, and stood siliently with their guns resting on the ground. Somewhere over beyond, the musicians still played that saddest and tenderest of funeral marches. And at regular intervals from across the river came the low booming of cannon that was fired incessantly all the morning till the body of the soldier was at rest. The services were short and the addresses clearly heard all over the cemetery. We saw President Harding, Foch, Diaz, Beattie, with representatives of many other nations as they gave their country’s homage.

Armistice Day night we flocked to see the lighting of the Victory Arch down beyond the Ellipse. As in the morning the city was full of hurrying people, now a dim mass moving across the wide Ellipse in the direction of the bright lights by the Pan American building.

The Monument rose before us in the clouded sky, its top bathed in soft light from some far off search light. As we came closer we saw rosy clouds of incense rising from the base of the pillars of the arch, and the light reflecting from these was caught by a million glittering jewels on the great swinging network. The pillars themselves shot forth sparks of varicolored light. We waited there in the ever increasing crowd till we heard cheering and could see President Harding ascending the platform, and in a moment he touched the switch which illuminated the shining arch. At the same time the searchlights began to play from all angles and the cannon at the base of the Monument again boomed forth in the national salute. But this time instead of the dull, foreboding burst that had reached us during the funeral march at Arlington, there was a roar that ended in bright coloured lights which glowed and drifted off in smoke each time. And the Monument was alight with long stripes of red, white and blue. As we came out of the crowd homeward, after watching the many colours playing on the arch, we saw the Capitol over yonder with a cloud of rainbows floating above it. My husband said that the sky shot as it was with the many fingered searchlights re- minded him of London in Zeppelin days. But this was on the eve of the Peace Conference.

To return to Alpha Delta Pi affairs, we are especially anxious to get in touch with any Alpha Delta Pi clubs which may be forming in the country. We have heard rumors of one in New York and an-other in St. Louis. By a club, we mean a heterogeneous lot of Alpha Delta Pi girls from various colleges who are assembled as we are in one city. We hope to hear of others being formed in the near future, and to hear from them in The Adelphean.

With greetings to you all.
Yours in Alpha Delta Pi,
Doris Holmes Blake.

In Washington, from 1919 until 1928, she worked for the United States Department of Agriculture in its Bureau of Entomology. Under the tutelage of Frank H. Crittenden, she began the entomological studies that would be her passion for the rest of her life. In 1927 she gave birth to a son who died shortly afterwards. In 1928, a daughter, Doris was born. That year, with a nurse caring for the baby, Blake joined the Department of Entomology at the United States National Museum (Smithsonian Institution). According to her biography on the Smithsonian website, “In 1933 her official employment came to an end with the institution of regulations prohibiting more than one member of a family from holding a government position (Sidney Blake was then working for the Department of Agriculture). Although no longer on the payroll, Blake continued her taxonomic work on the family Chrysomelides (leaf beetles) for almost 45 more years, first as a collaborator and then as a research associate of the Smithsonian Institution.”

During her lifetime she published 97 scientific papers and was still researching until shortly before her death on  December 3, 1978. In addition to her scientific papers, she wrote at least one work for Alpha Delta Pi. The ceremony for the Jewel Degree, one of Alpha Delta Pi’s rituals, was written by Mary Thayer Ashman who was assisted by Blake. Ashman and Blake were both members of the Rho Chapter. 

Doris Holmes Blake (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution)

Doris Holmes Blake (Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution)

© Fran Becque,, 2016. 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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Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Harvard

Harvard University has deemed that any student in the class of 2021, the incoming crop of its freshmen, who joins a single-gender organization will be considered a pariah and will not be allowed to captain a single-sex sports team or be eligible for college endorsement for selective fellowships. Okay, the official edict did not mention the word pariah, but that seems to be the intention.

This is also not the first time that Harvard has banned Greek-letter organizations. Alpha Delta Phi was the first fraternity at Harvard when it chartered a chapter in 1837. Other fraternities followed. The fraternities were forced to close in the late 1890s/early 1900s and from the rubble of the closing of those organizations, final clubs were created.  The single-gender final clubs are one of the targets of this latest edict.

Harvard is the oldest of the Colonial Colleges which predate the establishment of the United States. It’s the same Harvard that created a coordinate institution, Radcliffe College, to educate women separately from men. Since the 1970s, Harvard has been coeducational.

This latest policy was announced by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust, the first female to hold that position. Her undergraduate degree was obtained at Bryn Mawr, a women’s college and one of the Seven Sister colleges. Mary Maples Dunn, one of Faust’s professors at Bryn Mawr who later went on to serve as President of Smith College, was quoted in a February 12, 2007 New York Times article about Faust’s appointment as Harvard University President. In the article, Dunn said of Faust’s experience at Bryn Mawr, “I think these women’s institutions in those days tended to give these young women a very good sense of themselves and encouraged them to develop their own ideas and to express themselves confidently….It was an invaluable experience in a world in which women were second-class citizens.” 

I believe women’s fraternities/sororities also “give young women a very good sense of themselves and encourage them to develop their own ideas and to express themselves confidently.” Kappa Alpha Theta was the first National Panhellenic Conference organization to establish a chapter at Harvard, although if you look at Theta’s website, the location of its Zeta Xi Chapter is not shared; in its place is ~. Theta, along with the three other NPC groups which followed, is not recognized by the institution. In placing the chapter there, Theta seems to have given its word to never mention the institution in which the members of the Zeta Xi Chapter are enrolled. Delta Gamma’s chapter was chartered in 1994. Kappa Kappa Gamma joined them in 2003. Alpha Phi chartered a chapter in 2013 as the number of women who chose to go through recruitment warranted the establishment of another chapter. Remember, this is on a campus where the groups do not have access to any rooms and cannot put posters up about their events. The local Panhellenic is called the Cambridge-Area Panhellenic Council because the group cannot use Harvard in its name. Quota this year was 51, with chapter total at 155. These are fairly impressive numbers for a campus where the organizations are not recognized and cannot do much in the way of publicity.

I find it odd that one of the most exclusive of universities is suddenly concerned about being equitable. The class of entering freshmen, the first to be subjected to this edict, had a 5.2% acceptance rate. Of the more than 39,000 applicants, only 2,037 were admitted. And yet, Harvard is denouncing “exclusivity.” I have an idea, Harvard. Take the first 2,000 students who apply, no matter their GPAs, extracurriculars, essays, etc. Just take them as they come in. Or better yet, distribute “golden tickets” a la Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After all, it’s the fair thing to do. I suspect that many of the 37,000 high school seniors who received the “thanks, but no thanks” letter were devastated about that decision. It’s just not fair that some students are accepted to your university and others are not. Open Harvard up to everyone; it’s the equitable thing to do.

Using campus safety as a reason to enact this edict is also disingenuous. A big elephant in the room is that alcohol and drug use/abuse tend to impair judgement. Forcing the organizations to accept members of the opposite sex, and eliminating single-gender organizations, without addressing the bigger problem of impaired judgement is not going to solve anything. When one is not sober, uncharacteristic and awful things can happen. Inhibitions are lessened and stupid decisions are sometimes made. “Work hard, party harder” is a rallying cry for many of today’s students. How about working on that problem first?

When Bettie Locke, the first female student to enroll at Indiana Asbury University, was offered a Phi Gamma Delta badge, she declined. Instead, she started an organization of her own. Four of the women in that first class of women started Kappa Alpha Theta. The fifth one started a chapter of I.C. Sorosis/Pi Beta Phi. Since 1870, Kappa Alpha Theta has provided women with the opportunity to hone leadership skills, establish life-long friendships, and to live up to the highest ideals of womanhood. These ideals are not exclusive to Kappa Alpha Theta; the other 25 NPC groups also strive for the same goals.

Delta Gamma was started in 1873 by three young students in Oxford, Mississippi, who could not get home for the Christmas holiday. Its growth to the northern states was through the efforts of a man, George Banta, a Phi Delta Theta, who is the only initiated male member of Delta Gamma. Kappa Kappa Gamma was founded in 1870 at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. Kappa, along with its Monmouth Duo partner, Pi Beta Phi, was able to withstand the closure of its Alpha Chapter when Monmouth College authorities forced the groups to disband in the late 1870s. Alpha Phi was founded in 1872 at Syracuse University. One of its early National Presidents was suffragist and social reformer Frances Willard. Women formed and nurtured these organizations and their single-sex nature is deliberate and purposeful.

While the life of today’s woman is light years away from the lives lead by the founders of these NPC organizations, the tenets on which the organizations were built are as real today as they were in the late 1800s. I, for one, think Harvard needs to rethink this edict about single-gender organizations. Forcing all-male and all-female organizations to accept members of the opposite sex merely to prove a misguided point will prove no point in the end.

Screenshot (77)

For more information about the joint statement released by NPC and its colleagues in the fraternal world, see

© Fran Becque,, 2016. 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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With a Little Help From My GLO Friends…

“I get by with a little help from my friends,” has been playing in my mind all morning, including the hour I spent in the dentist’s chair. I had nothing for a post in mind. I was toying with using something from one of the instagram accounts I follow, syracusehistory ( The last few posts on syracusehistory have been about Harold MacGrath and his home at 1618 James Street.

I wondered if MacGrath was a fraternity man. In searching, I found out his wife, Alma Kenyon MacGrath, was a member of the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi. In the January 1922 Alpha Phi Quarterly, it was noted that she “says that she and her husband Harold MacGrath (the wk novelist) are not going abroad this year as had been stated by Syracuse newspapers. She is to be at home and will add her bit toward making the fiftieth anniversary of the Fraternity a success.”

But some more searching made me confused. In the marriage section of the 1899 Quarterly, it was noted that Alma J. Kenyon Alpha ex-’94 married Waldo Ballard Tourtellotte, a Cornell man on August 24 at Syracuse NY.  A later issue noted, “By an error the address of Alma Kenyon Tourtellotte Alpha ex-’94 was incorrectly given in the November issue Sister Alma lives at 352 W. 117th St., New York.” A search of her gravestone lead to an article stating that she had divorced Tourtellotte and married MacGrath in 1905. MacGrath died in 1932, and in 1936, she married a Syracuse student (and younger man), Augustus Beauchat. (In researching, I found this blog post about the MacGraths and Skaneateles, one of my favorite places, I fell down a giant rabbit hole and I was as confused as when I began. Suffice to say, Alma Kenyon (Tourtellotte) MacGrath Beauchat must have been one colorful woman. Oh, to have afternoon tea with her and hear her life story, wouldn’t that have been fun?

I left that idea where I found it. The loose ends could not be tied up, so I headed to facebook feed for a read of what was happening in my friends’ lives. My Alpha Gamma Delta friend, Nann Blaine Hilyard, whose friendship spans 30+ years, commented on this post:

The novel started with Victoria Magazine. I carried this article from the May 1999 Victoria Magazine around with me for months, not knowing it would lead me to write Lilac Girls, a novel about Caro…WWW.MARTHAHALLKELLY.COM


I am intrigued by buildings, too, and the stories they tell. I wanted to learn more about the book Lilac Girls so I went to Martha Hall Kelly’s website. It turns out that she, too, is an Alpha Phi and was initiated into the Alpha Chapter at Syracuse. I hope to listen to the book on one of my upcoming drives and I will keep you posted. Congratulations, Martha Hall Kelly on bringing ten-year’s worth of research to life.

Congratulations are also in order for my friend, Sally Brancheau Belknap, as she takes the helm of the Indianapolis Alumnae Panhellenic. I am certain she will do great things during her presidency.



One of my Hillsdale Pi Phi friends, Susan Bruch, sent me this and I offer congratulations to Beth Walker, West Virginia’s newest Supreme Court justice. 

News to share with your Chi Omega archivist friend. The newly elected West Virginia Supreme Court justice is a Hillsdale Chi Omega.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. 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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