Happy Founders’ Day Sigma Delta Tau, Especially the Chapter at 1104 West Nevada Street

On March 25, 1917, seven female Cornell University students founded Sigma Delta Tau. Their organization was originally called Sigma Delta Phi, but when they discovered the name belonged to another Greek-letter organization they changed the “Phi” to “Tau.”

Sigma Delta Tau’s founders are Dora Bloom (Turteltaub), Inez Dane Ross, Amy Apfel (Tishman), Regene Freund (Cohane), Marian Gerber (Greenberg), Lenore Blanche Rubinow, and Grace Srenco (Grossman).

There was also a male involved in the beginnings of Sigma Delta Tau. Bloom asked Nathan Caleb House  to write the ritual. “Brother Nat”  is the only man to honored with the organization’s gold membership pin.

Its Kappa chapter was installed at the University of Illinois on March 6, 1926. I walked past the Sigma Delta Tau chapter house at the University of Illinois the last time I was on campus. It’s a beautiful home. An article in a 1927 issue of the Daily Illini gave this account, “Work is in progress for a new $65,000 home for Sigma Delta Tau at 1104 West Nevada Street to be completed February 1. The outside will be a combination of cream colored stucco, stone and brick. The roof is brown shingles, and the architecture Old English. The interior has 20 study rooms, chaperone’s room, upstairs living room, a sunken living room downstairs opening into a large sunken solarium and a library. There will be a secret chapter room in the basement. A cement terrace will open out from the den room in the back to a garden, Three fireplaces will be built into the house, one exceptionally large one in the living room. A.W. Stoolman, Champaign, is the contractor, and Omar and  Lilanthol , Chicago are the architects. ”

I was unable to find out anything about the architects except for the fact that they were mentioned in this article. I think it may have been a misspelling. A.W. Stoolman built many of the fraternity and sorority houses at the University of Illinois (see http://wp.me/p20I1i-Jm). His buildings have stood the test of time.

The city of Urbana website gives this info,  “1104 W. Nevada is a Jacobean Greek House that was built in 1926 (likely started in 1926, but completed in 1927). The house is home to the Sigma Delta Tau Sorority. The house is constructed of multi-colored brick with interspersed limestone blocks. The composition of the house is asymmetrical and the main façade is dominated by a steeply pitched cross gable roof inset into a hip roof. The cornice of the roof has exposed wood rafters. A two story rounded bay window protrudes from the main façade. A large brick chimney with limestone details protrudes from the roof. Many of the windows are tall, thin, hinged casement windows. Many of the windows are arranged in horizontal rows. Some of the casement windows have diamond patterned panes of glass held together by lead cames, or grooved strips of lead. Each window is divided by limestone mullions. This unique architectural revival style is used on a very small number of Greek Houses on the University of Illinois campus.”

Sigma Delta Tau house, Urbana, Illinois

Sigma Delta Tau house, Urbana, Illinois


Happy Founders’ Day to these GLOs, too.

Gamma Phi Delta Christian Fraternity founded March 21, 1988 at the University of Texas.

Sigma Phi  Zeta Sorority, founded at Albany University in New York by ten women. It is an Asian interest sorority.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

Posted in Cornell University, Fran Favorite, Sigma Delta Tau, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Women's Fraternity History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the “Where Do We Go To Get Our Character Back?” File

Yesterday I read John Shertzer’s  Fraternal Thoughts blog post titled It’s Not Working. http://fraternalthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/03/its-not-working.html#.VRBJccLdhYo.twitter  I have felt the same way at times, more so very recently.  

Yesterday, the Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Department issued a statement stating that the allegations of gang rape made by an anonymous woman named “Jackie” against a fraternity at the University of Virginia were unfounded. And that while something might have happened to Jackie that night, it did not take place the fraternity house, nor did it involve any of the men in the fraternity. The facts as presented by Jackie did not match up with the facts presented by the fraternity. Where do those fraternity men go to get their character back? The story is still on the Rolling Stone website with this disclaimer.

We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate. Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie’s request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account.  In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment – the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. We should have not made this agreement with Jackie and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story. These mistakes are on Rolling Stone, not on Jackie. We apologize to anyone who was affected by the story and we will continue to investigate the events of that evening.

The Fran Becque translation to Rolling Stone’s disclaimer: There was no need to do due diligence on these facts because we all know that fraternities are evil and the men who join them are the lowest of the low. Of course they are guilty. No need to go research anything.


The defacement of property at the SIUC Phi Kappa Tau house.

This was what I saw on my way to the Rotary meeting this morning. Someone had spray painted this graffiti on corner of the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity house. Why? I do not know. How unfortunate that there are those among us who take their hatred and rage out on others by defacing property. Frankly, all of my dealings with the Phi Kappa Taus have been pleasant. The chapter is a top fundraiser for the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The chapter owns its own home, the only group at SIUC that does. It’s on a main road and the chapter does its best to keep it looking attractive. The men who join know that they have to live to a higher standard than a group of random guys who rent a house on the same street. They have the added obligations and responsibilities of membership.

And while I sometimes, like John Shertzer, question why Greek-letter organization interest me so, I know that the fraternity and sorority experience, when done right, is one of the very best experiences a person can have.  Doing it right takes effort. It takes alumni who are committed to the ideals of the organization (not just those who from the Animal House years – and I think every chapter has some of those – who come back and regale the collegians with tales of truth and fiction), a national organization willing to work closely with chapters, and members who understand that being in the organization means living up to higher ideals.

The way our collegiate organizations run means that the lessons need to be taught every year. And while a good foundation can help a chapter along, there is a revolving door of students who come and go. New officers are elected, they figure out what they are doing, they leave office. It starts again. They graduate. More come in. 

I haven’t thrown in the towel yet, because the Greek men and women I meet are, by and large, young men and women of whom we can be proud. Are there some bad actors in the bunch? Of course. Bad actors are everywhere, in every part of life. But I am not willing to concede our organizations to the bad actors.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

Posted in Fran Favorite, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Tau, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, University of Virginia | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

#WHM15 The Amazing Sorority Women Recap

It’s the last week of March and I’ve yet to acknowledge Women’s History Month. I haven’t had time to put together a new post about amazing sorority women, so I thought I’d quickly get together some links from past blogs. It turned out to be anything but quick. I didn’t realize I had written so much about amazing sorority women. And this isn’t an exhaustive list.of the posts I’ve written about sorority women

The next time anyone says that only ditzy, independently wealthy, blond women join sororities, show them this list. 

Ten Authors Who Are Sorority Women (Hint – Caddie Woodlawn, Kinsey Millhone, Atticus Finch, Too), http://wp.me/p20I1i-1wp

Helen Marlowe, Tennis Champion, Zeta Tau Alpha, and Marine Captain, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1HE

“A Hot Pilot is Born” to “Hello Dolly” – a ΘΦΑ Life Well Lived, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1Ha

Ten GLO Authors for Children’s Book Week, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1Cb

Charlotte West (AΞΔ) and Lin Dunn (XΩ) to Enter Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1Ft

Celebrating Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ΑΕΦ, and Mary Knight Wells Ashcroft,  ΓΦΒ!, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1Mj

10 + 2 Sorority Women With Pulitzer Prizes, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1LE

Irvington, Indiana, and the Sad Story of Madge Oberholtzer, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1RY

R.I.P. Jerrie Mock, Phi Mu, the First Woman to Circumnavigate the World Alone, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1RL

Betty Buckley, ZTA, the Public Theater, and Sweeney Todd, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1QR

“Service in Common” on Memorial Day 2014,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-1De

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Sorority Women Who Have Served,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-1UR

Female U.S. Senators and Their Sorority Affiliation – 2014 Edition, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1UE

Jessie Wallace Hughan, Pacifist, Social Activist, and Alpha Omicron Pi Founder on AOPi’s 118th Birthday, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1Yg

About Dr. Joyce Brothers on Sigma Delta Tau’s Founders’ Day, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1xj

Ten Sorority Women From the Golden Age of Television, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1xM

Ten Amazing Sorority Women, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1sy

Sorority Women Writing Stories Whose Characters Are Sorority Women, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1tc

The Golden Globes and the Fraternity and Sorority Members Who Have Won Them, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1mU

On Sigma Kappa’s Birthday – a Wimbledon Champ Who Was National President, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1dm

For International Women’s Day, Another 10 Amazing NPC Women!, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1vi

Sigma Gamma Rho Founders’ Day and the Hattie McDaniel Cancer Awareness and Health Program,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-1dH

11/22/1963 in Dallas – The Three Wives, One a ΔΔΔ, and the Judge, a ΔΓ, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1em

Emmy Awards and the Sorority Women Who Have Won One or More,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-17T

Happy Founders’ Day, Kappa Delta and a Snippet about Olga Achtenhagen, the “Hiking Professor”, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1az

Edith Head, Delta Zeta’s 1968 Woman of the Year and Today’s Google Doodle Honoree, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1bI

Nellie A. Brown, Tri Delta and Pioneering Plant Pathologist, http://wp.me/p20I1i-16t

E. Jean Nelson Penfield, KKG, and Carrie Chapman Catt, ΠΒΦ, the Monmouth Duo of Suffragists, http://wp.me/p20I1i-c2

“Baconian Biliteral Cipher, on the Estate of Colonel Fabyon,” National Security, and a Fraternity Woman,   http://wp.me/p20I1i-Zy

The Tony Awards and the Sorority Women Who Have Won One,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-QP

Miss USA – Sorority Women Who Have Won the Title, http://wp.me/p20I1i-RC

Mary E. Gladwin, R.N., Winner of the Florence Nightingale Medal and a ΔΓ, http://wp.me/p20I1i-Ow

Fraternity Women Who Were Lawyers, 1867-1902 (When Women Could Not Vote!), http://wp.me/p20I1i-KD

 Madelyn Pugh Davis, ΚΚΓ, and “I Love Lucy”, http://wp.me/p20I1i-Sl

Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch, Settlement House Founder and Kappa Kappa Gamma,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-y2

Sorority Women Who Have Won Oscars at the Academy Awards, http://wp.me/p20I1i-Ez

The 100th Anniversary of the Suffrage Parade, Sorority Women, and a Guest Appearance by High School Student J. Edgar Hoover, http://wp.me/p20I1i-F4

Maria Leonard, Alpha Lambda Delta Founder and Illini Dean of Women, http://wp.me/p20I1i-y3

And There She Is – The List of Miss Americas Who Belong to Sororities, http://wp.me/p20I1i-zK

World War I “Hello Girls” Led by a Gamma Phi Beta, http://wp.me/p20I1i-t6

Doctors Who Wore Badges: Fraternity Women in Medicine 1867-1902,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-tF

Jane Marie Bancroft Robinson, Alpha Phi, Active in Deaconess Work, http://wp.me/p20I1i-es

Dr. May Agness Hopkins, Zeta Tau Alpha, http://wp.me/p20I1i-pj

NPC and NPHC Women Astronauts, http://wp.me/p20I1i-le

Anna Botsford Comstock, Mother of Nature Education and a Kappa Alpha Theta, http://wp.me/p20I1i-bP

Katharine L. Sharp, Library Science Pioneer and Kappa Kappa Gamma Grand President, http://wp.me/p20I1i-nq

Ivy Kellerman Reed, Ph.D., Tri Delta, Ardent Esperantist, http://wp.me/p20I1i-dj

Julia Morgan, Architect, Kappa Alpha Theta, http://wp.me/p20I1i-bY

Imogen Cunningham, Pi Phi Pioneering Photographer http://wp.me/p20I1i-eg

Ada Comstock Notestein, Delta Gamma,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-bR

Miss Keller, Iron Dean of Westhampton College, and Her Role in AAUW History, http://wp.me/p20I1i-fd http://wp.me/p20I1i-nN

Three female architects who designed chapter houses at Syracuse University, http://wp.me/p20I1i-8B

Alice Duer Miller, Kappa Kappa Gamma, http://wp.me/p20I1i-9C

Carrie Chapman Catt, Pi Beta Phi,  http://wp.me/p20I1i-4d

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© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

Posted in Alice Duer Miller, Carrie Chapman Catt, Emily Butterfield, Grace Coolidge, Julia Morgan, Notable Fraternity Women | Tagged | Leave a comment

Pi Lambda Phi’s Connection to Broadway and More

Today is Pi Lambda Phi’s Founders’ Day. Pi Lambda Phi was founded in 1895 at Yale University by a group of men who were denied membership in the other Yale fraternities because of their religious and racial backgrounds. Frederick Manfred Werner, Louis Samter Levy and Henry Mark Fisher are Pi Lambda Phi’s Founding Fathers. They had a vision of a fraternity “where neither sect nor creed shall ever act as a bar to admission for any man.” According to the Pilam website, “the early history of Pi Lambda Phi can be divided into two periods. The first, known as the Founders’ Period, began with the inception of the fraternity at Yale University in 1895. In a few short years the fraternity grew to a position of enviable promise and achievement only to totter and collapse with equal suddenness.”

In 1908, the second, or Revitalization Period, began modern Pi Lambda Phi history. That is when the Alpha chapter was established at Columbia University. The songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were members of the Columbia University chapter. They were prolific and we can thank them for the scores of Oklahoma!, Carousel, The King and I, South Pacific, and  the Sound of Music, to name a few.  I wonder if the duo wrote any songs for Pilam. (Hammerstein was also mentor to musical genius Stephen Sondheim, Beta Theta Pi. See http://wp.me/p20I1i-be).

Richard Rodgers (l) and Oscar Hammerstein II (r) (courtesy of the Rodgers and Hammerstein website)

Richard Rodgers (l) and Oscar Hammerstein II (r) (courtesy of the Rodgers and Hammerstein website)


On March 21, 1988, Gamma Phi Delta Christian Fraternity was founded at the University of Texas in Austin. The idea for the fraternity was conceived by Kelvin C. James, Curtis Campbell, Rodney Walker, and Dwight Burns. Along with Luis Lopez, Eric Wilson, David Porter, Derek Riley, Jeffrey Holmes, James Lee, George Floyd, Michael Satterfield, Alex Bird, Bernard Jackson, Ikless Pettit and Melbourne McDonald, they founded the organization. These men are now known as the “Sixteen Visionaries.”


Condolences to the family and friends of Lisa Colagrossi, business reporter at ABC News. She was initiated into the Alpha Phi chapter at West Virginia University.


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

Posted in Alpha Phi, Beta Theta Pi, Columbia University, Pi Lambda Phi, West Virginia University | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Connections at PETS and Congratulations to Bill May!

This weekend I attended my first Rotary Land of Lincoln PETS. PETS stands for President Elect Training Seminar, It’s Land of Lincoln because it involves 3 Rotary districts, two from Illinois and one from Southern Indiana. Old Abe, who during his lifetime lived in both states, was there in cardboard format only, and he was a bit camera shy.

It was a weekend of connections. At the first event on Saturday, I ended up sitting with a Kappa Alpha Theta. The end of the first session involved some moving around from table to table. A woman joined my table and said “you look familiar, have we met before?” I, too, said she looked familiar, but I told her it was my first Rotary event. Just before we were to move to a different table per the speaker’s instructions, I asked her if she was a P.E.O. Indeed she was. Mystery solved. We had attended P.E.O. Illinois State conventions at the same time.

In another session I sat with a president of a Champaign area club. I told him there was an archives at the University of Illinois where I could live out my days researching. He said he was a Phi Kappa Tau from Kansas State. In telling how he ended up in central Illinois, he mentioned that he had worked for the Syracuse Stage. Turns out I attended at least one of the productions in which he was involved. The show? Vanities, which centers on a trio of sorority women.

One of my favorite quotes from the weekend came from one of the best speakers there, a gentleman from Louisville, Kentucky, who did a session on public relations. He spoke about a visit to one of the Oklahoma Rotary Clubs; its members were so enthusiastic and upbeat that it was “like being at a fraternity rush party.”

During the last session on Sunday I glanced at the school ring worn by one of the men at my table. It had Greek letters on it. Turns out that in addition to serving in his second term as a Rotary Club president, he also serves as a chapter adviser. That conversation led the president of the other Carbondale Rotary club to say that she was a Tri Sigma. We had been talking all weekend and that never came up.

The skills one learns as a member of a Greek-letter organization are easily transferable to service clubs such as Rotary. It’s something I’ve always believed and my experiences this weekend reaffirmed that.  (And did I mention that Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, was a fraternity man. See http://wp.me/p20I1i-22E?)


I offer congratulations to Bill May, Executive Director of Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, upon receiving the state of Tennessee’s highest award for artistic achievement. On Tuesday, March 17, he was one of 10 Tennesseans who received the Arts Leadership Award. In addition to being a terrific leader, Bill is a genuinely good guy.

Bill is also a talented stained glass artist, but four years ago, as a member of the Arrowmont Board of Governors, he stepped up and took on the position of Executive Director when the school needed him the most. He put his own work on hold to lead the school through one of the most trying episodes of its history. Bill’s leadership has served Arrowmont well. Arrowmont has come into its own. I am confident that it will continue to flourish as one of the country’s premier arts and craft schools. Classes are open to all levels of skill, including beginners. If you’re in need of a life-changing experience, I highly recommend taking a week-end or longer class at Arrowmont. The catalog is at www.arrowmont.org.



On Tuesday morning, there were two Pi Phis on the Today Show at the same time, Savannah Guthrie (University of Arizona ) and Jennifer Garner (Denison). One of my facebook friends said, “Let’s pretend they sang a Pi Phi song after the interview.”

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

Posted in Denison University, Fran Favorite, Pi Beta Phi, University of Arizona | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Delta Phi Epsilon and Phi Kappa Tau on St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! March 17 is the birthday of two Greek-letter organizations founded 11 years apart. Phi Kappa Tau was founded in 1906 as a non-fraternity; Delta Phi Epsilon was founded in 1917 by young women studying law.

On March 17, 1917, five students at Washington Square College Law a Division of New York University. founded Delta Phi Epsilon. The DIMES, as they are referred to, are Dorothy Cohen Schwartzman, Ida Bienstock Landau, Minna Goldsmith Mahler, Eva Effron Robin, and Sylvia Steierman Cohn. Delta Phi Epsilon was formally incorporated under New York State law on March 17, 1922.

That these five women were law students back in the day before women could vote in a federal election is impressive. Today, one must have a bachelor’s degree to apply to law school. In 1917, this was not the case. While the American Bar Association was formed in 1878, the first two women to join the organization did so a year after Delta Phi Epsilon was founded. In 1906, the Association of American Law Schools adopted a requirement that law be a three-year course of study.

Delta Phi Epsilon’s founders were between the ages of 17 and 19 when they formed the organization. I suspect they were working on an undergraduate degree in law, rather than what Delta Phi Epsilon members of today aspiring to be lawyers, would do, spend additional years of study after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

From 1922-23, Mahler served as the first International President. She was the one who spearheaded the creation of a constitution and by-laws, along with help from a relative who was an officer of Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity.

Mahler was an active member of the World Health Organization and the National Council of Jewish Women. She served as an observer to the United Nations and was often called upon to speak to various groups about world peace.

In 1920, Landau graduated and was admitted to the New York Bar. In 1921, she married a an Austrian, who, in 1917, founded the Jewish Telegraph Agency in The Hague. Landau lost her citizenship and her right to practice law when she married a foreigner. This case attracted national attention and it led to the adoption of the Cable Act (or the Married Woman’s Act) on September 22, 1922, allowing women who marry foreigners to keep their United States citizenship. Landau served as the assistant general manager of the Agency for many years. From 1942-51, she served as manager of the Overseas News Agency. She also served as a war correspondent. In 1943, she covered the Bermuda Refugee Conference. In 1945, she toured the liberated countries of Europe and reported on the plight of Jewish refugees. In 1950, she organized the Transworld Features Syndicate.

Cohn, who, in 1972, was the first of the founders to die, taught law and worked with her husband in real estate. She was also active in her community.

Schwartzman practiced law for seven years. She was the first woman in Fairfield County to pass the Connecticut Bar. She also worked in the social welfare field.

Robin, who lived to her late 90s, lived in Connecticut, where she is listed as an attorney in the Stamford City Directories.

The founders of Delta Phi Epsilon

The founders of Delta Phi Epsilon. Eva  Effron Robin is pictured twice, the two pictures on the left. Dorothy Cohen Schwartzman  is not pictured.


Phi Kappa Tau was founded on March 17, 1906 at Miami University by Taylor A. Borradaile, Clinton D. Boyd, Dwight I. Douglass, and William H Shideler. The organization began as the Non-Fraternity Association in an effort to give non-fraternity men a voice in campus political affairs. In March 1909, the name was changed to Phrenocon, combining the names which had been proposed, “Friends, Non-Fraternity, and Comrades.”

A second Phrenocon chapter was founded in 1911, when the Ohio University Union, a group of independent men, decided to become a Phrenocon chapter. Chapters followed at Ohio State University, Centre College, Mount Union College and the University of Illinois.

Some of the Phrenocon members at Miami dropped out of the organization and joined the other fraternities on campus. A few became charter members of the Delta Tau Delta and Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapters at Miami.

The Miami Phrenocon chapter dropped out of the National Phrenocon Association on March 9, 1916, and adopted the name Phi Kappa Tau. On December 21, 1916, the five other Phrenocon chapters agreed to take on the Phi Kappa Tau name and establish the chapter at Miami as the Alpha Chapter.

The fraternity’s philanthropy is the SeriousFun Children’s Network, an organization founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, an initiate of Phi Tau’s Ohio University chapter. In 1995, the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, as the philanthropy was then known, was adopted as Phi Taus national philanthropy after a vote at the 52nd national convention. Each year, Phi Kappa Tau chapters donate approximately $100,000 to the SeriousFun Children’s Network.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/


Posted in Delta Phi Epsilon, Miami University, New York University, Phi Kappa Tau | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Founders’ Day Today – ΦΔΘ, ΔΓ, ΦΣΚ, ΦΛΧ, ΩΦΒ

March 15 is the day on which both Delta Gamma and Phi Delta Theta celebrate Founders’ Day. There is a connection between the two groups. Additionally, three other GLOs were founded on the date, too.  In 1873 Phi Sigma Kappa was founded. Phi Lambda Chi followed in 1925 and Omega Phi Beta in 1989.

One of Phi Delta Theta’s six founders, Robert Morrison, was born on March 15. The organization was founded on December 26, 1848 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Morrison proposed the organization; along with John McMillan Wilson, he chose the name of the fraternity. The other founders are Robert Thompson Drake, John Wolfe Lindley, Ardivan Walker Rodgers, and Andrew Watts Rogers. Miami University was founded by an act of the Ohio general assembly in 1809. Phi Delta Theta’s second chapter was chartered in 1849 at Indiana University.

Delta Gamma was founded at the Oxford Female Institute, also known as the Lewis School, at Oxford, Mississippi. The school was established before the Civil War and eventually was absorbed by the University of Mississippi. Delta Gamma’s three founders, Eva Webb [Dodd], her cousin Anna Boyd [Ellington], and Mary Comfort [Leonard], all from Kosciusko, Mississippi, were weather-bound at the school over the Christmas holidays in December of 1873.

Anchor ornament - c.1860 - Delta Gamma

Anchor ornament – c.1860 – Delta Gamma

Mrs. Hayes, the lady principal, hosted the girls for the holidays. She had a son who was a fraternity man at the University of Mississippi. He and the women’s other gentlemen friends may have imbued the girls with the idea to start their own Greek-letter society. Founder Eva Webb Dodd later told this story: “When the idea first came to three homesick girls during the Christmas holidays of 1873 to found fraternity or club as we then called it, little did we realize that we were laying the cornerstone of such a grand fraternity as Delta Gamma. The school we attended at Oxford, Miss., was not much more advanced than a high school of today. During the week we decided on our motto and selected the Greek letters to represent it. We did not know that there were any other fraternities for girls in the United States known by Greek letters when we gave our club its name. We spent the holidays deciding on our pin and initiation and writing our constitution. In January 1874, we had our first initiation. We initiated four girls. The initiation was in one of the rooms of the house where we were boarding. We were careful to select only the girls we thought would be in sympathy with us and make our fraternity worthy of its name.”

Delta Gamma’s Founders’ Day is celebrated on March 15 because on that date in 1879, the Eta Chapter at Akron University was founded. Coincidentally, it was a man, Phi Delta Theta George Banta, who took Delta Gamma to the northern states. That story of George Banta, Phi Delta Theta and Delta Gamma, is told in another post at http://wp.me/p20I1i-AS.

George Banta, Phi Delta Theta and Delta Gamma

Phi Sigma Kappa was founded on March 15, 1873 at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, now known as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The college was one of the first established under the provisions of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862. It is the only GLO founded at UMass.

Although the college was officially established on April 29, 1863, the first students, all men, did not arrive until the fall of 1867. In 1875, the first female student was admitted on a part-time basis; it was another 17 years before the first full-time female student was admitted.

By 1873, there were two local fraternities at the college. Six sophomores, led by Henry Hague, sought to form an organization of their own. They met in Old North Hall to create a society to “promote morality, learning and social culture.” Phi Sig’s other founders are Jabez William Clay, Joseph Francis Barrett, Xenos Young Clark, Frederick George Campbell, and William Penn Brooks.

When the six met on March 15, 1873, Hague had a ritual prepared and Brooks had worked up a constitution and symbolism. Clay was elected president. For its first five years, the fraternity had no name, although it had three cryptic characters. Brooks later recalled that outsiders referred to them as “T, double T, T upside-down.”

In 1878, Phi Sigma Kappa was adopted as the name of the fraternity and its Grand Chapter was organized. It was not until 1888 that the Beta chapter was established at Union College in New York. It was quickly followed the next year with the establishment of a chapter at Cornell University.

On August 14, 1985, Phi Sigma Epsilon, a fraternity founded in 1910 at Kansas State Teacher’s College in Emporia, Kansas (now Emporia State University), officially merged. The Phi Sigma Epsilon members became members of Phi Sigma Kappa. (For the story of the Kappa Tetarrton chapter at Southern Illinois University, a chapter that was almost a Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter – all but one man had been initiated into Sigma Phi before the installation was halted, see  http://wp.me/p20I1i-GX).

Phi Lambda Chi was founded on March 15, 1925 at Arkansas State Teachers College (now University of Central Arkansas) in Conway. It began as a local fraternity for high school students and its name was originally the Aztecs. In 1928, the college allowed the fraternities to adopt Greek-letter names and in 1930, the Aztecs became Phi Lambda Chi. 

The founders of Phi Lambda Chi are Robert L. Taylor, Robert Clark, Wendell Collums, Grant Collar, William Huddleston, Howard Perrin, Louis Moles, Marvin Crittenden, Jeff Shemwell, Doyle Patton, Lester Adair, and Evan Douglas.

Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was founded on March 15, 1989 at SUNY-Albany. Its founders are 17 women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The founders are: Saida Abrego (Salvadoran); Ileana Adorno (Puerto Rican); Ana E. Almonte (Dominican); T. Lisa Auson (Chinese/Dominican); Bevene B. Bablington (Jamaican); Brunilda Y. Cruz (Puerto Rican); Sarah Delgado (Ecuadorian/Puerto Rican); Nancy Diaz (Dominican); Frances Echevarria (Puerto Rican); Annette A. Ettrick (Panamanian); Lissette Jorge (Dominican); Samantha P. Lopez (Uruguayan); Renee Padilla (Puerto Rican); Grace Rivera (Puerto Rican); Silvia Toledo (Ecuadorian); Michelle Vasquez (Puerto Rican); and Jane M. Vega (Irish/Puerto Rican). 

Community service and sisterhood are cornerstones of the organization. The organization’s motto is “Sirviendo y Educando a Traves de Nuestra Diversidad/Serving and Educating Through Our Diversity.”

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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Happy Pi Day, a Day Early!

Tomorrow, March 14, is a very special Pi (π) Day. It is a once in a century event. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 in honor of the mathematical constant pi. For those of you who, like me, have forgotten high school math, pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It is 3.14159265359 although it has been calculated to over a trillion digits beyond the decimal point. That is because it is an irrational and transcendental number. 

Tomorrow will be 3/14/15. There will be two opportunities to take pause at 9:26 a.m. and p.m. at the 53 second mark.

A goodly number of GLOs have Pi in their name – Sigma Pi, Pi Lambda Phi, Pi Kappa Phi, Pi Beta Phi, Alpha Delta Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Beta Theta Pi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Pi Sigma, Lambda Pi Chi, and likely a few I’ve forgotten. Happy Pi Day to you all!

Photo courtesy of my favorite baker.

Photo courtesy of my favorite baker.


This from my facebook feed  via Beta Theta Pi. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) is generally the campus governing body of the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) fraternities. The Executive Team is comprised of the officers of the IFC – President, Vice-President, Secretary, etc. The men on the Executive Team are usually from different chapters within the IFC. Given the amount of NIC fraternities at Oklahoma University, I suspect these are eight men from eight different NIC fraternities.

(notonOUrcampus) For anyone that doubts the true heart and soul of the University of Oklahoma fraternity community – or that of all Greek communities continent-wide – a picture is worth a thousand words. Boomer Sooner! Beta Theta Pi – University of Oklahoma


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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It’s All Greek to Most People

For most of the country, fraternities and sororities mean one thing – raucous men and spacey blond women coasting through life on Mom and Dad’s fortune. Those of us who wear badges don’t share that sentiment. We know that is not the true picture.

Last Saturday I was listening to one of my favorite internet music shows, done by a jazz guitarist and his wife, a singer and actress. They had just completed a college tour circuit with their high school daughter; the tour included the University of Michigan. That segued into the damage done to a hotel by a few of the Michigan Greek groups, followed by a statement that they couldn’t abide by fraternities and sororities. It was anti-Greek sentiment as conversation between songs. Then on Sunday came the University of Oklahoma SAE incident which went viral at lightening speed.

It gets harder and harder to defend the good that is done by GLOs, the leadership experiences, the opportunity for personal growth, the sisterhood and brotherhood when these awful episodes are sprawled all over the internet, in newspapers and magazines, and on television.

How many living North Americans belong to GLOs? It’s hard to say. My guess is less than 10%, maybe even 5% or so. If anyone has more precise info (that is not on that chart touting “all but two of U.S. Presidents…”) please share it with me.

To the public at large, a/k/a most people, the Greek letters mean absolutely nothing. They can’t tell the difference between a Phi and Psi and a Xi. It is all Greek to them.

Here is a quick tour through the history of GLOs, done while I am not at home with my reference materials and on the absolute worst of internet connections.

When the first fraternity was founded, higher education did not include women. Only men were offered the opportunity to earn a college diploma. When women were admitted to colleges and universities, they sought support systems of their own and created women’s fraternities/sororities. In 1895, the first female Jewish student at the University of Illinois was a founding member of the Pi Beta Phi chapter there, and later a member of its Grand Council. However, Jewish men and women usually did not have the opportunity to join the established GLOs, so they started organizations of their own. Since a large part of the Jewish population in the early 1900s was centered in and around New York city, that is where most of those organizations began. Catholics also weren’t welcome in most GLOs during the early 1900s, so a few Catholic GLOs were started, too. (In researching those early years in the various GLO magazines, I sometimes come across Italian or Jewish sounding names and it makes me wonder if those members were anomalies or if some chapters were able to have some autonomy in membership, research for another day. For instance, Louis Zamperini, of Unbroken and Olympic fame, the son of Italian immigrants, was a Kappa Sigma at USC.)

In the early 1900s, Latino men and Italian men began fraternities of their own, but the real push for Latino organizations did not happen until the 1980s and 1990s. At about the same time, fraternities and sororities for African American students came to life at both historically black institutions and those colleges and universities where African Americans were a distinct minority.

In the third quarter of the 1900s, many Latina/o and multi-cultural GLOs were founded. Most of the founders of these organizations are still alive and can tell the stories of the foundings.

However, while these divisions were set up in the GLO world, they are no longer hard and fast. What were lines based on religion were broken. Catholics slowly became assimilated into chapters. My guestimation is that this started taking place in the 1920s and 1930s (see the Louis Zamperini reference above). Threads of Christianity or Judiasm run through the rituals of most, if not all, the NPC and NIC GLOs, and that added an additional layer to the issue. A non-Christian who joined a Christian-based organization was asked to respect those tenets in the context of the founding of the organization. The same was expected from a Christian who joined a Jewish-based organization. Understanding and honoring can be accomplished without religious conversion. In the 1960s and 1970s, African Americans and those of the Jewish faith were being offered bids to join NPC and NIC groups. Ron Brown, who was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce when he died in a 1996 plane crash, was the first African American member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He graduated from Middlebury College in 1962. 

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, was one of the first white women to pledge Delta Sigma Theta. In 1961, as a 19 year-old college student, she was a Civil Rights worker. She was arrested for participating in the Freedom Rides and spent two months on death row. She then enrolled at Tougaloo College where she joined Delta Sigma Theta.

In the 1930s, 40s and 50s, George Washington University was a popular college for the daughters of embassy personnel stationed in Washington, D.C. If you check the roles of the sororities located at GWU, you will likely find members of many cultures.

African Americans who chose to join NPC and NIC organizations, usually forfeit the opportunity to join a NPHC organization. The NPHC groups, in addition to college based chapters have a vibrant program of community based alumni/ae chapters.


There are five umbrella organizations for GLOs. The women’s fraternities/sororities needed some order to their recruitment strategies (it wasn’t called “rush” for nothing!) and came together and formed the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) in 1902. In the late 1940s, the Catholic and Jewish sororities as well as the GLOS which had been only at teacher’s colleges joined NPC. Since the late 197os, there have been 26 members in NPC. Unanimous Agreements are signed by the National Presidents of each organization and all the organizations agree to the terms of the Unanimous Agreements.

The NorthAmerican Interfraternity Conference (NIC) is a trade organization of 75 or so men’s fraternities. It was founded in 1909. 

The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is comprised of the “Divine Nine,” the historically African American GLOs, four sororities and five fraternities. Several of the NPHC men’s fraternities are also members of the NIC.

Seventeen GLOs comprise the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO). Several of the NALFO fraternities also belong to the NIC. In 1998,  the National Multicultural Greek Council (NMGC) was formed as an umbrella council for a coalition of 12 GLOs.

I think it is the rare individual who could name all the 125+ members of each of these five organizations. 


And how about we make this go viral? https://www.phideltatheta.org/2015/03/message-tyrone-speller-phi-delta-theta-chapter-president-university-oklahoma/

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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March 10

Yesterday’s post was written in haste, because I had limited internet capability and not much time to write. In addition, I do have other things weighing on my mind. And while I in no way condone what the SAEs at Oklahoma did, my gut instinct was to say, take a step back, breathe, and remember that we are talking about young people who aren’t always the best at making decisions. Remember that. I was in ABSOLUTELY NO WAY condoning racism. And for someone to call me a white woman who doesn’t understand racism is absurd.

I was coming at it from the role of  a mother. Erma Bombeck once said that being a mother means that you wear your heart on the outside for the rest of your life.  A mother’s job is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Those males have mothers (biological and/or those who serve in mother roles) and I know some of those mothers (and fathers, too. I am not discounting them, but as I said, I was writing it from the perspective of a mother) are this morning wondering what they did and what they could have done differently. They are hurting for their children. It would be easy to call them racists, too, to make it easier for all involved. They are all racists. End of story. Close the book. I cannot take that route.

In raising children, it is important to admonish the deed, but to reassure the child that he/she is loved. Some of the best life lessons come from the most difficult of circumstances. That was where I was coming from. It’s not a popular stance, as most other people are making them, the now ex-SAEs, out to be horrible monsters who have no place in society. I hope those involved will grow from this awful experience.

In addition, a Maryland university has been posting my blog posts on their website without giving credit to me. I asked them to stop it several times. Yesterday, it caused them some angst, so hopefully that problem is now solved. These opinions are mine and mine only. I, in no way, condone what the Oklahoma SAEs did and likely would not have mentioned it except for my resolution to acknowledge Founders’ Days. I was unavailable all day and saw the commotion on their webpage when I finally returned to the computer late at night. However because I am not affiliated with the institution, I could not post anything there. Just as an entire fraternity system should not  be judged by the actions of one chapter, neither should my blog be judged on one post. There are more than 500 posts on the history of all fraternities and sororities.

Some random tweets

“When you invest in women, you invest in the people who invest in everybody else.” said sorority woman @  (Melinda Gates is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta.)


We are so proud that our community is taking a stand!


Happy 25th Anniversary to Alpha Pi Sigma!

Although its 25 anniversary will be celebrated with an annual convention and anniversary gala in late July, today is silver anniversary of Alpha Pi Sigma’s founding at San Diego State University. The celebration will take place in San Diego, too. According to its website, “A group of Latina women from a variety of backgrounds came together to form an organization that would unite and support the Latina women on campus.”

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

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