March 15 is the day on which both Delta Gamma and Phi Delta Theta celebrate Founders’ Day. There is a connection between the two groups. Additionally, three other GLOs were founded on the date, too. In 1873 Phi Sigma Kappa was founded. Phi Lambda Chi followed in 1925 and Omega Phi Beta in 1989.
One of Phi Delta Theta’s six founders, Robert Morrison, was born on March 15. The organization was founded on December 26, 1848 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Morrison proposed the organization; along with John McMillan Wilson, he chose the name of the fraternity. The other founders are Robert Thompson Drake, John Wolfe Lindley, Ardivan Walker Rodgers, and Andrew Watts Rogers. Miami University was founded by an act of the Ohio general assembly in 1809. Phi Delta Theta’s second chapter was chartered in 1849 at Indiana University.
Delta Gamma was founded at the Oxford Female Institute, also known as the Lewis School, at Oxford, Mississippi. The school was established before the Civil War and eventually was absorbed by the University of Mississippi. Delta Gamma’s three founders, Eva Webb [Dodd], her cousin Anna Boyd [Ellington], and Mary Comfort [Leonard], all from Kosciusko, Mississippi, were weather-bound at the school over the Christmas holidays in December of 1873.
Mrs. Hays, the lady principal, hosted the girls for the holidays. She had a son who was a fraternity man at the University of Mississippi. He and the women’s other gentlemen friends may have imbued the girls with the idea to start their own Greek-letter society. Founder Eva Webb Dodd later told this story: “When the idea first came to three homesick girls during the Christmas holidays of 1873 to found fraternity or club as we then called it, little did we realize that we were laying the cornerstone of such a grand fraternity as Delta Gamma. The school we attended at Oxford, Miss., was not much more advanced than a high school of today. During the week we decided on our motto and selected the Greek letters to represent it. We did not know that there were any other fraternities for girls in the United States known by Greek letters when we gave our club its name. We spent the holidays deciding on our pin and initiation and writing our constitution. In January 1874, we had our first initiation. We initiated four girls. The initiation was in one of the rooms of the house where we were boarding. We were careful to select only the girls we thought would be in sympathy with us and make our fraternity worthy of its name.”
Delta Gamma’s Founders’ Day is celebrated on March 15 because on that date in 1879, the Eta Chapter at Akron University was founded. Coincidentally, it was a man, Phi Delta Theta George Banta, who took Delta Gamma to the northern states. That story of George Banta, Phi Delta Theta and Delta Gamma, is told in another post at http://wp.me/p20I1i-AS.
Phi Sigma Kappa was founded on March 15, 1873 at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, now known as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The college was one of the first established under the provisions of the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act of 1862. It is the only GLO founded at UMass.
Although the college was officially established on April 29, 1863, the first students, all men, did not arrive until the fall of 1867. In 1875, the first female student was admitted on a part-time basis; it was another 17 years before the first full-time female student was admitted.
By 1873, there were two local fraternities at the college. Six sophomores, led by Henry Hague, sought to form an organization of their own. They met in Old North Hall to create a society to “promote morality, learning and social culture.” Phi Sig’s other founders are Jabez William Clay, Joseph Francis Barrett, Xenos Young Clark, Frederick George Campbell, and William Penn Brooks.
When the six met on March 15, 1873, Hague had a ritual prepared and Brooks had worked up a constitution and symbolism. Clay was elected president. For its first five years, the fraternity had no name, although it had three cryptic characters. Brooks later recalled that outsiders referred to them as “T, double T, T upside-down.”
In 1878, Phi Sigma Kappa was adopted as the name of the fraternity and its Grand Chapter was organized. It was not until 1888 that the Beta chapter was established at Union College in New York. It was quickly followed the next year with the establishment of a chapter at Cornell University.
On August 14, 1985, Phi Sigma Epsilon, a fraternity founded in 1910 at Kansas State Teacher’s College in Emporia, Kansas (now Emporia State University), officially merged. The Phi Sigma Epsilon members became members of Phi Sigma Kappa. (For the story of the Kappa Tetarrton chapter at Southern Illinois University, a chapter that was almost a Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter – all but one man had been initiated into Sigma Phi before the installation was halted, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-GX).
Phi Lambda Chi was founded on March 15, 1925 at Arkansas State Teachers College (now University of Central Arkansas) in Conway. It began as a local fraternity for high school students and its name was originally the Aztecs. In 1928, the college allowed the fraternities to adopt Greek-letter names and in 1930, the Aztecs became Phi Lambda Chi.
The founders of Phi Lambda Chi are Robert L. Taylor, Robert Clark, Wendell Collums, Grant Collar, William Huddleston, Howard Perrin, Louis Moles, Marvin Crittenden, Jeff Shemwell, Doyle Patton, Lester Adair, and Evan Douglas.
Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was founded on March 15, 1989 at SUNY-Albany. Its founders are 17 women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The founders are: Saida Abrego (Salvadoran); Ileana Adorno (Puerto Rican); Ana E. Almonte (Dominican); T. Lisa Auson (Chinese/Dominican); Bevene B. Bablington (Jamaican); Brunilda Y. Cruz (Puerto Rican); Sarah Delgado (Ecuadorian/Puerto Rican); Nancy Diaz (Dominican); Frances Echevarria (Puerto Rican); Annette A. Ettrick (Panamanian); Lissette Jorge (Dominican); Samantha P. Lopez (Uruguayan); Renee Padilla (Puerto Rican); Grace Rivera (Puerto Rican); Silvia Toledo (Ecuadorian); Michelle Vasquez (Puerto Rican); and Jane M. Vega (Irish/Puerto Rican).
Community service and sisterhood are cornerstones of the organization. The organization’s motto is “Sirviendo y Educando a Traves de Nuestra Diversidad/Serving and Educating Through Our Diversity.”
© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2015. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/