Delta Zeta and Alpha Epsilon Phi Founded on October 24, Seven Years Apart, With a Broadway Twist

Delta Zeta and Alpha Epsilon Phi, both members of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), were founded on October 24. In 1902, Delta Zeta made its debut at Miami University in Ohio; Alpha Epsilon Phi was founded in 1909 at Barnard College in New York City.

Delta Zeta’s founders are Alfa Lloyd, Mary Collins, Anna Keen, Julia Bishop,* Mabelle Minton, and Ann Simmons. Delta Zeta’s history includes the heritage of several other NPC organizations. Between 1941 and 1962, the members of four other NPC groups became members of Delta Zeta. Delta Zeta absorbed or merged with Beta Phi Alpha, Theta Upsilon, Phi Omega Pi, and Delta Sigma Epsilon. Prior to these groups becoming a part of Delta Zeta, some had themselves merged with other groups.

Alpha Epsilon Phi was founded in Helen Phillips’ room. She had the inspiration for the group as a way to stay in closer contact with her friends. The other founders are Ida Beck, Rose Gerstein, Augustina “Tina” Hess, Lee Reiss, Stella Strauss and Rose Salmowitz.

The seven shared their Jewish heritage. A second chapter was quickly founded two months later at nearby Hunter College. The founding chapter at Barnard was closed when the college banned Greek-letter organizations in 1913.

Actress Barbara Barrie is a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi. She was initiated into the University of Texas chapter as Barbara Ann Berman. While at UT she was awarded the Kappa Kappa Gamma Donna Dellinger annual scholarship. (It was established in 1952 in memory of Donna Dellinger, a Kappa Kappa Gamma member, who was killed in an automobile accident. Those eligible for the award were seniors or graduate students who showed “definite drama interest and ability.”)

Barrie has performed on Broadway, in movies and on television. She spent nearly two years in Company, one of my favorite Stephen Sondheim shows. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance. Barrie also played the mother in Breaking Away, the 1979 film about Indiana University’s Little 500 race. She was nominated for an Academy Award for that performance. She has appeared in many television shows, including a 1975-78 stint as Elizabeth Miller, fictional detective Barney Miller’s wife. Most recently, she played Brooke Shield’s grandmother in Suddently Susan.

Barbara Barrie, Alpha Epsilon Phi

Barbara Barrie,           Alpha Epsilon Phi

Florence Henderson, who began her career on Broadway, has a place in 1970s sitcom history for her role as Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch. She is an alumna initiate of Delta Zeta. On the FAQ (frequently asked questions) part of her website, she includes this question and answer:

Are you really a member of the Delta Zeta Sorority?
I am an honorary member of Delta Zeta. They do a lot of work for the House Ear institute and the hearing impaired and so do I, so it was a good match. I was never an officer or an active member of the sorority.

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To read more about Princess Martha of Norway, a Delta Zeta, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-qA

* For a post about Julia Bishop Coleman, Delta Zeta Founder and P.E.O. State President see  http://wp.me/p20I1i-18s

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Right Reserved.

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