NPC Badge Day, the Founding of ΠΚΑ and ΦΜΔ, and a Rabbit Hole

Tomorrow, the first Monday of March, is the National Panhellenic Conference’s International Badge Day. This rare Sunday post is a reminder for my NPC friends to wear their badge and show the power of the 26 NPC organizations.


NPC’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. (Fraternity men can wear their badges in support of the women, too!)



Happy Founders’ Day to Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Mu Delta. they were both founded on March 1, 50 years apart.  

On March 1, 1868, Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity was founded at the University of Virginia. According to the PKA website:

It all started in Room 47 West Range when Frederick Southgate Taylor turned to Littleton Waller Tazewell, his cousin and roommate, for help in starting a new fraternity. Also present were James Benjamin Sclater,  Jr., a schoolmate of Tazewell, and Sclater’s roommate, Robertson Howard. Those four men voted to add a fifth to their group and chose Julian Edward Wood. In addition, William Alexander, probably a friend of Sclater, was proposed for membership and admitted as a founder. 

Senator Everett Dirksen, whose name is on the plaques in many buildings in Illinois, was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. Dirksen is buried in Pekin, Illinois. We passed the cemetery many times as we drove the scenic back roads to Knox College to watch our sons play football. (Until the 1980s, Pekin’s school teams were known as the Chinks, but that is a story for another day. And Tremont the town next to Pekin, calls its teams the Turks.)


 Phi Mu Delta was founded in 1918. This information is from its website:

Phi Mu Delta traces its roots to the National Federation of Commons Clubs. The Commons Club was founded at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1899. The Commons Club grew to an impressive 19 chapters from Washington state to Maine prior to the formation of Phi Mu Delta. At the 1918 Conclave, held at the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMass), Clarence Dexter Pierce and many of his supporters petitioned the assembly for the formation of a Greek letter fraternity. The petition was adopted and the original plan was in favor of all chapters of the Federation to join Phi Mu Delta. However, only four chapters did so: The Universities of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut, as well as Union College.

The formation of the new fraternity met with some early resistance when the alumni of the Union chapter refused to join Phi Mu Delta. So, the Universities of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut went on to become the founding chapters. Chapter designations were determined by lottery. The Connecticut chapter drew the number one and therefore became the Nu Alpha chapter, New Hampshire drew the number two ticket and became Nu Beta and Vermont became Nu Gamma (the Nu prefix was determined by the location of the chapter, New England Region).


For those who are snowed/iced in or those with time on their hands, I offer this wonderful time waster  Thanks to my friend Susan I have spent a good deal of time looking at old houses. Susan and I discussed this Victorian in Monmouth. Could the Pi Phi founders have visited this home later in their lives (since it wasn’t built when Pi Phi was founded in 1867)?

Speaking of Monmouth, Illinois, did you know that it was also the birthplace of Wyatt Earp?

One of my favorites is a Ward Wellington Ward home outside of Syracuse . Ward Wellington Ward designed some of the homes occupied by Syracuse University fraternities and sororities throughout the years.


The home owned by Frank Hinckley Sisson, Beta Theta Pi’s National President, for whom the Sisson Award is named, is there. His wife, Grace Lass Sisson was Grand President of Pi Beta Phi. They were both graduates of Knox College.

© Fran Becque,, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest


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