July 13, 1939 was Panhellenic Day at the New York World’s Fair. The event took place in the Executive Suite of the Pennsylvania Building. Prominent fraternity women discussed “Freedom for women in the world of tomorrow.”
Carrie Chapman Catt, an early initiate of the Iowa Gamma Chapter of Pi Beta Phi at Iowa State University, discussed opportunities for women in light of the past struggles. She knew those struggles first-hand and her insight must have been fascinating!
Genevieve Beavers Earle was another speaker. She was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta’s Alpha Kappa Chapter at Adelphi College. A social worker, she served as head of the Brooklyn branch of the League of Women Voters. In 1937, she was elected to the New York City Council, where she served as minority leader. She was also the only woman on the Council at that time.
The third speaker was Eloise Davison, Gamma Phi Beta. She was the Director of the New York Herald Tribune Home Institute. After the meeting, the group had a buffet supper on the Executive Suite porch overlooking the Lagoon of Nations and they viewed the nightly fountain display.
Two winners of the nationwide essay contest sponsored by the Fraternity Women’s Committee for the New York World’s Fair were the guests of honor. They were Jean Powell, a junior at Grinnell College. She had pledged Alpha Omicron Pi while at the University of Wisconsin during her sophomore year. Henrietta Herzberger, a Kappa Kappa Gamma and Phi Beta Kappa, had graduated in June 1939 from the University of Colorado. They were entertained for a week in New York City and stayed at the Beekman Tower Hotel.
The Beekman Tower Hotel, whose story is chronicled in a page at the top of this blog, served as a hostess center to welcome the fraternity women who came to New York to attend the Fair. The Fraternity Women’s Committee also staffed the College Hospitality Center at the Fair.