Happy 168 Years, Phi Gamma Delta!

Phi Gamma Delta was founded on May 1, 1848.  The “Immortal Six” – John Templeton McCarty, Samuel Beatty Wilson, James Elliott, Daniel Webster Crofts, Ellis Bailey Gregg and Naaman Fletcher – were students at Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, when they founded the fraternity. The fraternity’s Beta chapter was established the same year at Washington College in Washington, Pennsylvania. In 1865, the chapters became one when the colleges merged to form Washington and Jefferson College.

If you regularly read this blog, you likely know that Grace Goodhue Coolidge is one of my very favorite First Ladies, for a whole host of reasons. She was a charter member of the Pi Beta Phi chapter at the University of Vermont. She had the good sense to marry a Phi Gamma Delta from Amherst College. According to reports, Grace’s mother was, at first, opposed to the marriage. In his autobiography, the President said of their marriage, “We thought we were made for each other. For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces.”

Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge won the Vice Presidential spot on the Republican ticket in the summer of 1920. At the time of the nomination, the Coolidges were in Amherst attending his 25th college reunion and the 99th anniversary of the college. A reception at the Phi Gam chapter house was arranged with his wife helping the chapter plan the event on short notice.  More than 1,500 people attended.

The Coolidge family - Calvin, Jr., Calvin, Grace, and John shortly before Calvin, Jr.'s death. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Coolidge family – Calvin, Jr., Calvin, Grace, and John shortly before Calvin, Jr.’s death. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

On August 23, 1923, Calvin Coolidge became President after the death of Warren G. Harding. The Coolidges were planning  to attend Phi Gamma Delta’s 75th anniversary celebration in Pittsburgh in September 1923, but the plans had to be cancelled. Later, a founders badge was presented to the President. At the presentation, he said, “I am very glad to have this badge. My wife wears mine most of the time.”

This full size portrait of President Coolidge was painted by Ercole Cartotto. Although it is now at the Phi Gamma Delta's Headquarters, it was originally commissioned. by the Xi Graduate Chapter originally commissioned this for the Phi Gamma Delta Club in New York City. Ercole Cartotto's painting was dedicated on February 20, 1929, in the Club library. It is "life size."

This full size portrait of President Coolidge was painted by Ercole Cartotto. Although it is now at Phi Gamma Delta’s Headquarters, it was originally commissioned by the Xi Graduate Chapter for the Phi Gamma Delta Club in New York City. (Photo courtesy of  Phi Gamma Delta)

On November 17, 1924, John, the Coolidges’ eldest and only living son, became a member of his father’s Phi Gamma Delta chapter at Amherst College. On Founders’ Day, May 1, 1925, FIJI Sires and Sons was organized.  Its purpose is to “impress upon all fathers and sons, who are members of the fraternity, and in time upon their sons, a realization of the noble trinity of principles of the fraternity, with the hope that they may outrun the fervor of youth.” President Coolidge, Sire No. 1, signed the preamble of the organization.

President Coolidge throwing out the first pitch while his wife looks on.

President Coolidge throwing out the first pitch while his wife looks on.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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On Theta Phi Alpha’s Founders’ Day

Theta Phi Alpha’s roots can be traced to the 1909 establishment of a local organization, Omega Upsilon, at the University of Michigan. Father Edward D. Kelly, a Catholic priest and the pastor of the student chapel at Michigan, felt that there should be an organization that could provide the Catholic women at Michigan with an environment that “resembled the Catholic homes from which they came.” This was in a time and place when Catholics were not always welcome in the other fraternal organizations on campus. I find it fitting that an organization founded by a Catholic Bishop for Catholic women began at a state institution that was co-founded by a Catholic priest, Father Gabriel Richard.

By 1912, after Father Kelly left campus and became the Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit, Omega Upsilon was struggling, likely because there were no alumnae to guide the organization. Even without him being in Ann Arbor, Bishop Kelly’s vision that the Catholic women at Michigan should have a place to call their own was still alive. He enlisted the assistance of Amelia McSweeney, a 1898 University of Michigan alumna. Together with seven Omega Upsilon alumnae, plans were made to establish a new organization. Theta Phi Alpha was founded on August 30, 1912 at the University of Michigan. The ten founders were seven Omega Upsilon alumnae, two Omega Upsilon undergraduates and McSwenney.

Today, just as other organizations have accepted Catholic women, Theta Phi Alpha is open to women from all religious backgrounds. Since most colleges and universities are not in session on August 30, Founders’ Day is celebrated on April 30, the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena.* Her motto, “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring,” is also the motto of Theta Phi Alpha.

The Theta Phi Alpha Founders

The Theta Phi Alpha Founders

Hill Auditorium, now a fixture on the University of Michigan campus, was just being built in 1912. Fielding Yost was the football coach and he led the team to a 14-0 win over Ohio State University. More than 10,000 football fans attended that game. 

According to a 1912 University of Michigan catalog, all Catholic students were “expected to become members of the Students’ Catholic Club, which meets twice a month in St. Thomas Parish Hall. The society is under the personal supervision of the pastor of St. Thomas Church. Its object is both social and religious. A fund is being collected with which to erect a Catholic Club building.”

In 1912, women were also under strict rules as to where they could live and what they could do. They could not live in the same rooming houses as men and their housing choices were to be approved by Myra B. Jordan, Dean of Women. A matriculation fee of $10 for legal Michigan residents and $25 for all others was required before a student could enter the University. An outdoor physical education fee of $5 was assessed to each student on a yearly basis. Locker rentals were $2 per year and the graduation fee was $10.

Theta Phi Alpha remained a local organization until 1919 when the Beta Chapter was formed at the University of Illinois. In addition, chapters at Ohio State University, Ohio University and the University of Cincinnati were chartered that year.

In 1921, Pi Lambda Sigma was founded as a Catholic sorority at Boston University. On June 28, 1952, Pi Lambda Sigma merged with Theta Phi Alpha. Its members at Boston University and the University of Cincinnati became members of the Theta Phi Alpha chapters on the two campuses. The chapter at Creighton University became the Chi Chapter of Theta Phi Alpha in the fall of 1952 and the Quincy College chapter became the Psi Chapter of Theta Phi Alpha in 1954.

I first heard of Theta Phi Alpha when on a Homecoming weekend in the late 1970s, I was sitting on the porch of the Pi Phi house at Syracuse University. Several alumnae stopped by to chat. With them was a Theta Phi Alpha who said that the chapter had closed and her house was no longer standing. Indeed, the Lambda Chapter of Theta Phi Alpha, installed in 1923, closed in 1968. The chapter assets were turned over to the Catholic Newman Center. The Alibrandi Center is located upon the site of the former Theta Phi Alpha house. There is a plaque inside the center thanking the Theta Phi Alphas for their generosity.

Theta Phi Alpha’s Silver Jubilee convention was held in Ann Arbor in 1937 and its Centennial Convention took place there in July 2012. Happy Founders’ Day, Theta Phi Alpha!

*Saint Catherine of Siena was canonized in 1461. From 1597 until 1628, the feast of Saint Catherine of Sienna was celebrated on April 29, the date she died. In 1628, due to a conflict with the feast of Saint Peter of Verona, hers was moved to April 30. In 1969, it was changed back to April 29.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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In Monmouth, Important Events Galore!

It should come as no surprise that many of these posts are written a hour or so before they are posted, with a cup of coffee at my side.

My current favorite mug with the serious design flaw. The arrows are only visible if I drink my coffee with my left hand.

My current favorite mug with the serious design flaw. The arrows are only visible if I drink my coffee with my left hand. Target, please take note.

This morning, I needed more coffee than usual. On Wednesday, my daughter and I took a road trip. After I picked her up we headed north to Monmouth, Illinois. It’s a five-hour drive, about a third of it on two-lane roads. (The thrill of being in a long line of cars in back of a farm implement going 25 miles an hour is one that I’d never experienced until moving to Illinois.)

We made it to Monmouth, checked into its finest hotel, the Americinn, and changed into our “whites.” I am not giving away state secrets by mentioning that Pi Phi initiates and attendees at initiation wear white. We made it to Holt House, Pi Beta Phi’s founding home, where two young women were becoming alumnae initiates of the Illinois Alpha Chapter. Their grandmother had been initiated into the same chapter in 1932. Their great-great-grandmother was the chapter’s 44th initiate, and served as an officer in the early years of the fraternity. Their mother is a member of the University of Arkansas chapter. Needless to say, it was a joyous event.

After the beautiful initiation ceremony, the newest members of the chapter were treated to a Cookie Shine, a tradition that began six years after the founding of the fraternity.

Arrow shaped cookies baked by the wonderfully talented Amanda Pilger, Alumnae Advisory Committee Chairman left

Arrow shaped cookies for the Cookie Shine.

The next morning a wonderful event took place. The new home of Illinois Alpha was dedicated.

The house on the left is the college owned home that the chapter used for five or six years. The house on the right is the house which was dedicated on Founders' Day.

The house on the left is the college-owned home that the chapter used for several years. The house on the right is the house which was dedicated on Founders’ Day.

I insisted on parking in the Holt House lot and walking across campus to the new chapter house. I wanted to give my daughter a glimpse of the streets where the Pi Phi founders walked. We went through the Huff Athletic Center where the facade of the old gymnasium is incorporated into the design of the center. It’s one of my favorite places on campus. I pointed out the football field on which her brothers played in the Turkey Bowl where the prize was the coveted Bronze Turkey; it is one of the oldest collegiate rivalries in the country, Monmouth College versus Knox College. 

As a crowd gathered in the parking lot of the house, there was much hugging as old friends greeted each other. I spied a Kappa Kappa Gamma (she’s also a P.E.O.) in the mix.

Gail Owen, Monmouth College Trustee and Kappa Kappa Gamma Council member on the left

Gail Owen, Monmouth College Trustee and Kappa Kappa Gamma Council member, on the left.

The new home was a gift to the college from the Knapheide family to honor their mother, Mary MacDill Knapheide. Her son and daughter gave a wonderful gift to the College in her memory.

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I am certain Mrs. Knapheide would be proud of their generosity and devotion. The house is exquisite on the inside and outside. It sits on the corner across from the Fraternity Complex and Stewart House, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s founding home. It is an impressive anchor on the northeast side of the campus.

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The dedication and ribbon cutting were joyous events, too. The rain had moved through the night before and all took place according to plan. The Pi Phis in the crowd sang two rounds of Ring Ching, Ching despite not being at tables with available water glasses and coffee cups. Two spoons hit together produced an acceptable sound.

The display in the Ring Ching room. Astute Pi Phis will note the two Past Grand Presidents on the screen in the middle. That the image was there when the picture was taken happened quite randomly as that is a computer screen generating changing images.

This is the historical display in the Ring Ching room. Astute Pi Phis will note the two Past Grand Presidents on the screen in the middle. That the image was there when the picture was taken happened quite randomly as that is a computer screen generating changing images. There is also a picture honoring the Monmouth Duo with the two then-Presidents in attendance. (Photo courtesy of Monmouth College)

I had a hand in helping with the historical displays and it was terrific to finally meet the project manager for the displays, Sara Deuel of Dimensional Innovations. She is an Alpha Sigma Tau. The graphic designer for the project is a Chi Omega, but she was unable to attend.

Sara Deuel and I finally had the chance to meet.

Sara Deuel and I finally had the chance to meet. (Photo courtesy of Monmouth College)

After touring the house and oohing and aahing over all the delightful touches, I made my way back to Holt House. As I walked towards Broadway, the Alpha Tau Omega flag greeted me. The names of the ATO founders, Glazebook, Marshall, and Ross, flashed into my mind. Perhaps it was a nod to the twelve young women who founded Pi Beta Phi 149 years ago to the day.IMG_0611

In addition to April 28 being the start of the countdown to 150 years of Pi Beta Phi, it also happened to mark the 75th anniversary of Holt House opening its doors to the Monmouth community.

Mary MacDill Knapheide visited Holt House shortly after it opened as a memorial to Pi Beta Phis founders.

Mary MacDill Knapheide visited Holt House shortly after it opened as a memorial to Pi Beta Phi’s founders.

The afternoon’s events included a dedication of a painting of Pi Phi’s founders which will hang at Holt House. Committee member Lisa Lahman Carmin, Indiana Gamma, coordinated the project with a Bloomington, Indiana, artist, Carole Diane Heslin.

Four members of the Holt House Committee along with the painting of Pi Beta Phis 12 founders.

Four members of the Holt House Committee along with the painting of Pi Beta Phis 12 founders.

It was a Pi Phi Founders’ Day spent in the home where Pi Beta Phi was founded 149 years ago, when the world was a different place. The women of 1867 could not fathom the world in which the women of 2016 live. But the one constant, the sisterhood which they shared, is the same sisterhood which has touched the lives of more than 300,000 women in those 149 years. I find it all so amazing. On to 150, Pi Phi sisters!

 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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 Tau Omega, Fran Favorite, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Knox College, Monmouth College, Pi Beta Phi | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

And Hearts That Are Bound by the Wine and Silver Blue!

When I accidentally became a member of the New York Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi, I had no idea where Monmouth, Illinois, was located. It was there in Monmouth on April 28, 1867 that the organization was founded. As one born and bred on Long Island, I had a New Yorker’s view of the world and anything to the west of the Hudson River was just an empty space until California and the other ocean came into sight. I would have been hard pressed to locate the state of Illinois on a map, let alone figuring out where Monmouth was situated.

As life sometimes happens, I have been a resident of the state of Illinois longer than any other place I’ve lived. I have been to Monmouth many times and I have been in that house where Pi Phi was founded 149 years ago. I have walked up the staircase, holding on to the same banister that the Founders did. I have stood in that very room and wished I could transport myself to that Sunday afternoon in a different time and place. Those young women, most of them teenagers, created an organization that has grown and changed and yet at its core offers today’s members the same values and benefits. I am but one very tiny, tiny little link in one very longggggggg chain of sisterhood.

I love this wonderful wine carnation made by Lake Angel Glass!

I love this wonderful wine carnation made by Lake Angel Glass, Past Pi Beta Phi Grand Council member Karen Price!

Today, I am in Monmouth celebrating the 75th anniversary of the opening of Holt House to the public. After falling into disrepair, it became uninhabitable and was auctioned off for delinquent taxes. It was purchased by a Pi Phi father and turned over to the fraternity. Some who had seen the property thought it needed to be razed. After consultations with structural engineers and architects, the building was found sound and renovation began.

While at Holt House, I like to read the old guest books. I came across the name Marilyn Simpson in one. It’s the same Marilyn Simpson who married Bill Ford and edited The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi for many years. Marilyn had not yet become a member of the Nebraska Beta Chapter at the University of Nebraska, her mother’s chapter. That would happen in 1943.

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I will likely write more about today’s events, but before I sign off I wish my Pi Phi sisters a very Happy Founders’ Day! Thank you, Jennie H., Jennie N., Fannie T., Fannie W., Ada, Inez, Magaret, Clara, Rosa, Emma, Nancy, and Libbie!

 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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, Monmouth College, Pi Beta Phi | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Busy Weekend for GLO Members

This past weekend was a busy one in the GLO world. Founders’ Day celebrations, International Reunion Day festivities for my Alpha Gamma Delta friends, philanthropies galore, Awards celebrations and a few Spring Formals, too.

I spent Saturday morning at a Rotary District Assembly. There, I listened to two presentations on recruitment and retention. Yes, civic organizations discuss the same topics that GLOs discuss. The pesky truth is that every membership organization needs to keep one eye constantly on those important issues. And none of what I heard on Saturday morning was news to me. It was the same message I heard decades ago as a new member of a women’s fraternity preparing for my first recruitment on the other side, from the recruitee (rushee) to the recruiter (rusher). “Life is just one big recruitment party” is a theme that was going through my head as I sat through the presentations on Saturday. Did I mention that I have 10 meetings left in my term as Rotary Club President, but who’s counting?

When I left the Rotary event early, it was to get to the Relay for Life accounting table. From my twitter feed, it appeared that there were several others going on around the country and that GLOs were participating in those, too. Our Relay is in its 23rd year and it is one of the oldest in the region. I recall our first Relay which was held in McAndrew Stadium. The stadium was named for William McAndrew, a Phi Kappa Psi from the University of Chicago chapter, who was a much loved coach here in Carbondale. The stadium was torn down in 2011, but it hosted several early Relays. Over the years, the accounting procedures have changed, a shift from real money to on-line contributions has taken place, but our accounting facilities are almost always locker rooms. Saturday’s accommodations were in the coaches’ locker rooms at the new Lew Hartzog Track and Field complex. The fraternity and sororities at SIUC made up the majority of the teams and brought in the most money. On a campus where the membership of GLOs has never exceeded 10 percent of the student body, I find this impressive. One of the groups which has participated in the event from its early years is the Sister to Sister team, comprised of alumnae from the four National PanHellenic Council sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta.

The SIUC Alpha Gamma Delta chapter

The SIUC Delta Phi Epsilon chapter

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The best part of my accounting duties was getting to catch up with my 93-year-old friend who roped me into doing the accounting duties decades ago. She is a cancer survivor who still teaches dance to youngsters and adults. She is an amazing woman and I want to be just like her when I grow up. She and Eleanor Roosevelt shared a birthday and a connection was made when her father, a florist, delivered a bouquet to the First Lady as she was travelling through a Kansas town. Mrs. Roosevelt thanked him for the bouquet and mentioned that it was extra special as it was her birthday. He remarked that it was his daughter’s birthday, too. From that exchange a series of letters were exchanged between the two who shared a birthday. There’s a story in there, and I just need to convince her of it.

 © Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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 Gamma Delta, Delta Phi Epsilon, Delta Zeta, Fran Favorite, Southern Illinois University Carbondale | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday Charlotte Rae and a Founders’ Day

Happy 90th birthday to Charlotte Rae Lubotsky, better known as Charlotte Rae, and to a generation as Mrs. Garrett on The Facts of Life. She became a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi at Northwestern University.

Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garrett

Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Garrett

Northwestern University holds a special place in film, television sitcom, and GLO history. In addition to Charlotte Rae Lubotsky, the NPC women who attended Northwestern, many of whom left for Hollywood before graduation, are:

Aneta Corsaut, Alpha Omicron Pi, The Andy Griffith Show

Mary Frann, Delta Gamma, Newhart

Martha Hyer, Pi Beta Phi

Laura Innes, Alpha Chi Omega, ER

Carol Lawrence, Alpha Xi Delta, The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family

Cloris Leachman, Gamma Phi Beta

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Delta Gamma, Seinfeld

Stephanie March, Kappa Alpha Theta, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Ann-Margaret, Kappa Alpha Theta

Patricia Neal, Pi Beta Phi, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story

Mary Beth Peil, Gamma Phi Beta, Dawson’s Creek, The Good Wife

Jeri Ryan, Alpha Phi, Star Trek: Voyager

Inga Swenson, Alpha Phi, Bonanza, Benson

Leigh Taylor-Young, Kappa Alpha Theta, Peyton Place

Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Alpha Phi

There are also a goodly number of fraternity men who were initiated into chapters at Northwestern University who later went on to stage, film, and television careers. That is a list for another day.

Patricia Neal, 1946 Northwestern University campus queen

Patricia Neal, 1946 Northwestern University campus queen

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Happy Founders’ Day to Alpha Kappa Lambda. It was founded at the University of California, Berkeley on April 22, 1914. It was the first fraternity to be founded west of the Rockies (there were chapters of other fraternities on California campuses including UCB and Stanford, but they were all founded east of the Rockies). Alpha Kappa Lambda’s roots go back about eight years before that when a four men who had helped with the cleanup after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake expressed a desire to form a house club. This desire was expressed during a YMCA conference and the friends talked about the need Christian men had for an affordable place to live and study. House clubs were common in the days before colleges and universities provided college or university housing and meal plans. In 1907, they came together as “Los Amigos” house club.

One of the Founders Reverend Gail Cleland, later said, “When we organized Los Amigos as a house club…house clubs and fraternities were dime a dozen. They came, they lived for a few months or a few years, then they went out of existence again. But Los Amigos did not go out of existence.” Seven years later, spurred on by a suggestion from the University’s President, the men became a fraternity of one chapter. In 1920, another chapter was founded  at nearby Stanford University.

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© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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 Founders’ Day Tri Sigma!

Although the following article, “Relation Between Sororities,” was written more than a century ago, the points it makes still ring true:

In the colleges and universities where sororities are located, there is always present a keen spirit of emulation between the several sororities—and this is as it should be. It is wholesome, for out of this sort of competition are bound to develop improvements and progress for each one taking part. No sorority is worth belonging to that has not for its one goal and ambition to be the ‘best sorority in school.’ But too often this generous emulation develops into a bitter rivalry. Too often there remains behind ill feeling between two sororities long after the occasion that has given rise to it has been forgotten. They continue to ‘nurse their wrath to keep it warm;’ they will blindly oppose each other upon every occasion. This, of course, results in hurt to both.

Their material interests are the same, they have the same aims and purpose, the same interests and the attainment of these do not conflict with the prosperity of each other; but if the two would cooperate each could more easily attain its own interests. If a sorority is weak the other sororities ought to do all in their power to strengthen it, because it will give to the enemies of the sorority system a weak point to attack, and this system, as a consequence of its growth and development, has called out a great deal of opposition. Can we afford to weaken ourselves by dissension within, when we should be strengthening ourselves for opposition from with-out? It is certain that the precarious position that fraternities and sororities hold in many schools has been brought about by a lack of harmony among the Greeks themselves.

But it is not right for us to wish to keep the relations with our sister sororities harmonious merely because it is the best policy. Rather let us exemplify the fraternal spirit for which all sororities stand. That sorority is small, it is a failure, that teaches its members to keep or display this fraternal spirit only in the small circle of its own members, and denies it to all not its members.

The movement of cooperation is in force in almost all of our schools, Pan Hellenics and similar organizations that have for their purpose the adjustment of matters between sororities, and look after their interests in other ways. But in almost all places the conditions might be improved. All Tri Sigmas should always be found at the head of any movement that proposes to better the conditions between the sororities. If we could only succeed in keeping the desired degree of harmony among the various sororities the weak sororities would become stronger and the stronger sororities yet stronger.

The purpose of this article is not to mark out nor to advocate any new policy; it is an exhortation to bear an old one in mind, to forget those little misunderstandings that are likely to remain over a rushing season, or from some failure to secure some honor in school. Such feelings may be the most natural in the world, but they are contrary to the spirit that it is the purpose of sororities to engender. (The Triangle of Sigma Sigma Sigma, December 1909)

Violets, Sigma Kappa's flower

Violets, Tri Sigma’s flower

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Catching Up!

Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to this article about Genevieve Forbes (http://trib.in/20Igkng). She was sure Forbes, a Northwestern alumna, was a sorority woman. I started googling, and what did I find? There was a mention of her in a post I did on the Roosevelts – “Genevieve Forbes Herrick, Kappa Alpha Theta, Northwestern University, was a noted reporter of the day and several histories talk about Herrick being part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s inner circle.” 

Another friend, on her way to the installation of the Georgia Beta Chapter of Pi Beta Phi at Emory University, left from the Columbus, Ohio, airport. She posted this picture of the statue of Jerrie Mock, a Phi Mu, who was the first woman to fly solo around the world. I wrote a post about Mock last month (http://wp.me/s20I1i-9737).

The statue of Jerrie Mock at the Columbus, Ohio, airport. (Photo courtesy of Penny Proctor)

The statue of Jerrie Mock at the Columbus, Ohio, airport. (Photo courtesy of Penny Proctor)

Another photo from the Georgia Beta installation made me smile. It features Pi Phi staffers, who are also Pi Phis, Ashley Karth and Alex Roark, along with two Pi Phi legends, Carol Warren and “Sis” Mullis. You know a fun time was had by all if those two women were involved!

sis and carol

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Pet Day was last week and I missed it, but one of my offspring posted a picture of my two dogs and my two granddogs. The dark brown ones are my granddogs. All four have instagram accounts (full disclosure – I have nothing to do with those instagram accounts).

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For those of you who enjoy movie reviews, I offer this one done my my daughter, http://news.wsiu.org/post/siu-reviews-zootopia. If you enjoy it, there are others by Simone Becque at http://news.wsiu.org/programs/siu-reviews. I just listened to a few of them for the first time and I love that one she quoted my father’s line, “a true story that never happened” in the one about the Steve Jobs biopic.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Alpha Xi Delta “When the 17th of April Rolls Around Again”

“When the 17th of April rolls around again the Alpha Xi Delta idea will be eleven years old,” reads an account in the first issue of Alpha Xi Delta of the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority.  “The seed planted so carefully by ten brave girls has borne good fruit, and those who have taken their places have been imbued with the motives of the original ten.” Today is the 123rd  anniversary of the founding of Alpha Xi Delta.

Alpha Xi Delta was founded at Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois on April 17, 1893. Its founders are Cora Bollinger Block, Alice Bartlett Bruner, Bertha Cook Evans, Harriett Luella McCollum, Lucy W. Gilmer, Lewie Strong Taylor, Almira Lowry Cheney, Frances Elisabeth Cheney, Eliza Drake Curtis Everton, and Julia Maude Foster. At age 15, Alice Barlett Bruner was the youngest of Alpha Xi Delta’s founders; Eliza Curtis Everton, a 25-year-old widow, was the oldest founder.

Cora

Cora Bollinger Block

This account of the founding, titled “A Retrospect. Alpha Xi Delta 1893-1903.” appeared in the first volume of Alpha Xi Delta of the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority published in February 1904 (It later took on the name The Quill of Alpha Xi Delta and the organization chose to call itself a women’s fraternity):

Ten years ago it required no small amount of courage to put a sorority in the field of endeavor where Alpha Xi Delta first saw the light. Let us then look over the situation, in brief it was this: two fraternities and one sorority were in operation at Lombard College, Galesburg, Illinois; the sorority was affiliated exclusively with one of the fraternities; the result to the other fraternity is easy of imagination—it was without an organized ally and suffered thereby. It is not an unusual thing to find some of the smaller schools with but one sorority, neither is it always a bad thing, but in the case of Lombard ten years ago the spirit was such as to make us qualify the statement and say simply that the atmosphere was not a happy one. This difficulty originated in the false standard that had in some way been set up. The choosing of new members amounted not so much to a consideration of
scholarship and character as to the trivalities of wealth or social attainments. In consequence a class of young women was formed having the opposite attributes and the time seemed ripe for the organization of a local society. This project had the greatest encouragment of the fraternity referred to above, the Delta Theta chapter of Sigma Nu. This fraternity helped the movement on and in the spring of ’93 the air was fairly vibrant with the plans of the budding sorosis.

It reads in the history of the first year of the sorority: ‘The spring of 1893 was a season of mysteries in Lombard. There were strange whisperings and dark councils. There were hurryings to and fro among ten gentle maidens and breathless plannings and hairbreadth escapes from detection.’

Can we not see it all as pictured in these vivid words of our dear sister Frances Cheney? And how we all would like to have been there would we not? Like an old war-horse, scenting the battle from afar, I sympathize with those dear girls and only wish mine had been the honor to be numbered with the ‘council of ten.’ 

Girls of a type strong, earnest, and enthusiastic were the chosen friends for this work, and it was work, too, because there was no pattern to go by, and the girls had to use their own intuition, coupled with some help from Sigma Nu, to get into a semblance of form and order the ideas and ideals for which they  wished to work. Among those of the Sigma Nu who gave help aand encouragement one calls to mind the names of James Alvin Clark, C.W.E. Gossow, Jasper Everton, Ben Downs, Robert Higgins and Joseph Crum. (The first three named are now ministers of the Universalist Church, the last a physician and another a lawyer.)

Alpha Xi Delta did not lack for friends among the “Barbs” or non-fraternity faction of Lombard, for the need of another society for the young women was generally recognized, and it may be well to mention here as an encouraging friend at that time one Richard or “Dick” Brown—now a lawyer in Iowa—a strong “Barb” leader, but who was broad and far-seeing enough to recognize the good another sorority would do.

In her endeavors, Alpha Xi Delta has been singularly blessed with staunch supporters and right good friends among the faculty of Lombard and among the students of no matter what frat politics, and the question arises—what have we done to merit it? and what can we do to bind closer to us our present and past friends and attract and retain those of the future?

These are questions for the individual Alpha girl to ponder in her own heart and the answer will be read in the success of the coming years. No sorority is better than the individuals who compose it; no matter how high may be its ideals, the chapters compose the sorority and the individual members the chapters, and it rests with each and every one of us to make or mar this work we have undertaken.

That our ten charter members worked long and well with the spirit of Caesar’s words, ‘Avt viam miveniam avt faciam’ inspiring them we know and one fine morning, April seventeenth, eighteen hundred ninety-three, the thunderbolt, so to speak, descended and the ten girls walked, none too seriously into chapel wearing on their breasts for the first time our beloved quill and the light and dark blue, ’emblem of undying truth.’ May it be for their followers, as it was for them, a fitting emblem, for indeed they were true blue, those girls; and I think we are all glad that they chose the blue to wave over them as they entered the battle-ground of sorority life. We now have a third color, the gold, added when Alpha Xi Delta became national, and this was necessary as another sorority has the blue also. This, too, is very appropriate for the girls who have worn the blue have proved pure gold.

The cordial reception of the brother fraternity compensated for coldness of the other contingent, and Alpha Xi Delta was fairly launched. Many of the girls can remember the cordial letter of welcome from Sigma Nu that was handed in on the occasion of the first official ‘frat’ meeting. We are dignified now and say ‘sorority’ but to many of us the best name for Alpha Xi Delta will be the pet name of the ‘frat.’

We ought all to realize the bravery of our founders, for it was surely no easy task when those ten young girls took the decisive step, and again I say, all honor and glory be theirs.

Lombard College was founded in 1853 by the Universalist Church and it was coeducational from its beginning. Originally called the Illinois Liberal Institute, its name was changed in 1855, after a fire damaged much of the college. Businessman and farmer Benjamin Lombard gave the college a large gift to build a new building and the institution was named in his honor. Among its students was Carl Sandburg.

In 1902, Iowa Wesleyan College’s Chapter S of the P.E.O. Sisterhood became the Beta Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta. With this move, Alpha Xi Delta became a national organization, rather than just a local on the Lombard campus, and the P.E.O. Sisterhood became an organization of community adult women. (See http://wp.me/p20I1i-1EP and http://wp.me/p20I1i-9L)

The 1929 stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression hit Lombard College extremely hard and the college closed its doors. The last class graduated in 1930. Knox College invited the Lombard students to transfer to Knox, with the same tuition cost as Lombard, and without loss of academic standing. Knox also incorporated the Lombard alumni into the Knox Alumni Association.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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 Xi Delta, Knox College, Lombard College, Sigma Nu, The Quill of Alpha Xi Delta | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Losing Lincoln, the Titanic, and a Murder in Belize

Two historic events which took place on April 15 had their beginnings on the evening of April 14. The RMS Titanic’s collision with an iceberg happened at 11:40 p.m. on Sunday April 14, 1914. The ship sank in the early morning hours of April 15.

President Abraham Lincoln was shot a little after 10 p.m. on Friday April 14, 1865. John Wilkes Booth shot the President in the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. At 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865, the 56-year-old the President died. Lincoln did not attend college and was not a fraternity man.

I can’t help thinking of Lincoln assassination without hearing the lyrics to Stephen Sondheim’s (Beta Theta Pi, Williams College) Ballad of Booth from Assassins. Below is the introduction to the song, the part being sung by a balladeer.

Someone tell the story,
Someone sing the song.
Every now and then
The country
Goes a little wrong.
Every now and then
A madman’s
Bound to come along.
Doesn’t stop the story-
Story’s pretty strong.
Doesn’t change the song…
Johnny Booth was a handsome devil,
Got up in his rings and fancy silks.
Had him a temper but kept it level.
Everybody called him Wilkes.
Why did you do it, Johnny?
Nobody agrees.
You who had everything,
What made you bring
A nation to its knees?
Some say it was your voice had gone,
Some say it was booze.
They say you killed a coutry, John,
Because of bad reviews.
Johnny lived with a grace and glitter.
Kind of like the lives he lived on stage.
Died in a barn in pain and bitter
Twenty-seven years of age.
Why did you do it, Johnny,
Throw it all away?
Why did you do it, boy,
Not just destroy
The pride and joy
Of Illinois,
But all the U.S.A.?
Your brother made you jealous, John,
You couldn’t fill his shoes.
Was that the reason, tell us, John-
Along with bad reviews.

The Titanic’s maiden voyage turned out to be her last. More than 1,500 passengers and crew perished. Only 705 of the people who boarded the ship survived. Among the fraternity men who perished on the Titanic were:

John Jacob Astor IV, Lieutenant Colonel in the Spanish-American War, businessman, real estate developer, investor, inventor, and author (Delta Phi, Harvard University).

Major Archibald Willingham Butt, journalist, and military aide to U.S. presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft (Delta Tau Delta, University of the South).

George Dennick Wick (Kappa Alpha Society, Williams College)

Major Archibald Butt

Major Archibald Butt

***

My thanks to Nora Ten Broeck, Alpha Sigma Alpha, for her tenacious efforts to see justice brought forth in Anne Swaney’s murder. Swaney, a news producer for ABC in Chicago, was a member of the Illinois Epsilon Chapter of Pi Beta Phi at Northwestern University. She was murdered in January 2016 while vacationing in Belize. Little progress has been made in the murder investigation.

Nora – ASA ‏@ASAalumna

#justice #AnneSwaney #American #murder #Belize #January2016 @FBI @POTUS @USMissionBelize @StateDept @ABC7Chicago

***

It’s also Founders’ Day for FarmHouse and Triangle Fraternities. See http://wp.me/p20I1i-Lh for a post about those organizations. 

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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 Beta Theta Pi, Delta Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Fran Favorite, Kappa Alpha Society, Williams College | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Losing Lincoln, the Titanic, and a Murder in Belize