The meeting of 12th National Pan-Hellenic Congress (now known as the National Panhellenic Conference – NPC) opened on October 16, 1913 at the Congress Hotel in Chicago. Gamma Phi Beta Lillian Thompson chaired the meeting.
“Last year, when she became chairman of the Executive Committee she was described in The Crescent as being ‘fortified by vast experience, fully equipped for all phases of the work, calm, well balanced and fair-minded in all that she may direct.’ The year just past has proved her worthy of this characterization. All who attended the recent Congress, felt much of its success was due to its efficient chairman,” wrote Sarah Pomeroy, Editor of The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi.
Thompson attended the first NPC meeting in 1902 and had a broad base of Panhellenic experience prior to becoming Chairman. After the 1913 meeting, she said, “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 and suspicion. Everyone knew that everyone 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 criticism of fraternities. It was prophesied that quarrels would break up these inter-sorority meetings in five years. Ten years have passed, and no quarrel has yet appeared. The meetings have expanded from one afternoon to two days. The luncheons have grown from less than twenty to more than three hundred, and include not only delegates, but all fraternity girls who can attend. The name has changed from the tentative ‘Intersorority Conference,’ to the well established ‘Pan-Hellenic Congress.’ But the spirit of those first kindly, intimate meetings has not changed, but has grown in strength, bringing with it to the delegates many valued personal friends, and a broader and more generous fraternity outlook.”
R. Louise Fitch, Editor of The Trident authored an article entitled “The Spirit of the National Pan-Hellenic Congress” which appeared in many fraternity magazines. She wrote, “There is only one fault to find with the N.P.C. this year – it could not be held simultaneously in every city where dwells a fraternity woman. Could that have been possible, there would be no more ‘disaffected’ alumnae, and no more even with a lukewarm interest. Fourteen of the eighteen delegates had been present the year before, so no time was lost explaining preceding affairs. The opinion was general that this year, really for the first time, non-essentials were eliminated and the time was almost entirely devoted to problems of consequence. When eighteen women, some with from four to sixteen years experience in college and fraternity affairs, spend three days together discussing such things as scholarship, fraternity house rules, social conditions, elimination of high school fraternities, deans of women, vocational activities, etc., something is bound to be accomplished. I am not to tell you in detail of deeds performed but to try to give you the spirit of the Congress. This is my seventh Congress and without any reservation it was by far the best. In times past, there has sometimes cropped out a little air of superiority, a tiny uptilt of the nose over some proposition advanced, a slight tendency to believe the wrong done was by ‘your chapter, never by mine.’ This year we were all equals – very frankly admitting our own faults, and working together for the advancement of Fraternity, not each her own.”
There were 470 in attendance for the Panhellenic luncheon which took place at Patten Gymnasium on the Northwestern University campus. Alpha Phi had 55 members attending, Pi Phi 51, and Tri Delta 47. Fraternity songs were sung between the food courses.
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2013. All Rights Reserved.