March 3 is National Panhellenic Conference’s International Badge Day. On March 4, 1925, Calvin Coolidge was inaugurated as the 30th President of the United States, a role in which he had been serving after Warren G. Harding’s death.* What better way to celebrate #BadgeDay14 than by telling a story about this very special Pi Phi badge which once belonged to President Coolidge’s wife.
The woman to whom it belonged was a charter member of the Pi Beta Phi chapter at the University of Vermont. Her name then was Grace Anna Goodhue. The Vermont Beta Chapter of Pi Beta Phi was installed in her family’s home and many of the chapter’s meetings took place there. After graduation she traveled to Northampton, Massachusetts, where she began working and studying at the Clarke School for the Deaf. There in Northampton she met a young lawyer, a Phi Gamma Delta who graduated from Amherst College. The Pi Phi and the Fiji were married in her family’s home in Burlington, Vermont. The native Vermonters began married life in Northampton, in a rented duplex home. The young lawyer became Northampton’s mayor and worked his way up to President of the United States.
Grace Coolidge was elected Pi Beta Phi’s Alpha Province Vice-President at the 1912 Evanston Convention. In this photo, published in a 1912 Arrow of Pi Beta Phi she is wearing this badge. It has two garnets, her birthstone, with a moonstone in the middle. She wears this badge in another portrait, the one of her in a red gown on the White House lawn. Pi Beta Phi gave to the Nation this portrait painted by Howard Chandler Christy. More than 1,100 Pi Phis attended the April 1924 unveiling at the White House. The portrait is still on display in the White House. On that April day, she was given another special Pi Beta Phi badge. Her Pi Phi “Round Robin” friends gave it to her, but that is a story for another day. To read more about Grace Coolidge, see http://wp.me/P20I1i-16
The National Panhellenic Conference’s International Badge Day began in 1997. In the spring of 1996, after she wore her Alpha Sigma Alpha pin to work one day, Nora M. Ten Broeck wrote an article about her experience. It appeared her sorority’s magazine, The Phoenix, and was titled “A Simple Solution – Wear Your Membership Badge Today.” The month of March was chosen because it is also National Women’s History Month.
* To view what was then a state of the art recap of Coolidge’s inauguration, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTpqNZjTQX0 . To see a delightful “talkie” with Grace Coolidge in a speaking role see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DknJzlhmEg.
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com. 2014. All Rights Reserved.