October 15 – Alpha to Zeta and More

Alpha Chi Omega and Zeta Tau Alpha celebrate Founders’ Day on October 15. How amazing is it that the first organization and the last organization on the alphabetical listing of National Panhellenic Conference members share the same Founders’ Day?

On Thursday, October 15 1885, Alpha Chi Omega was founded at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Thirteen years later, on Saturday, October 15, 1898, Zeta Tau Alpha was founded at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia.

Alpha Chi Omega’s seven founders are Anna Allen, Olive Burnett, Bertha Deniston, Amy DuBois, Nellie Gamble, Bessie Grooms and Estelle Leonard. They were students in the DePauw School of Music. With the guidance and support of James Hamilton Howe, Dean of the School of Music, they created an organization that at its beginning insisted its members possess some musical culture. A member of Beta Theta Pi, James Campbell, offered advice in the creation of a constitution and by-laws.

Alpha Chi Omega’s first appearance was in Meharry Hall of East College. The seven women wore scarlet and olive ribbon streamers attached to their dresses to display the organization’s colors.

Zeta Tau Alpha‘s founders are Alice Maud Jones Horner, Frances Yancey Smith, Alice Bland Coleman, Ethel Coleman Van Name, Ruby Bland Leigh Orgain, Mary Campbell Jones Batte, Helen May Crafford, Della Lewis Hundley, and Alice Grey Welsh. For a short time, the group was known on the Farmville campus as ???.  An invitation sent to the two groups then on the campus read “The ??? will be delighted to receive the Kappa Delta and Sigma Sigma Sigma fraternities in the end room in Nursey Hall at 8:30 P.M.”

Other historic events which occurred on October 15 include:

1789 – George Washington made his first presidental tour of New England.

1866 – A fire in Quebec destroys 2,500 homes.

1924 – President Calvin Coolidge, Phi Gamma Delta, used his authority under the Antiquities Act to name Fort Wood, the site of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, as a national monument. Four additional sites were designated the same day.

1951 – I Love Lucy debuted. Through the foresight of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the stars and producers of the show, who filmed the show on tape, the episodes have been viewed by millions. Madelyn Pugh Davis, Kappa Kappa Gamma, was a writer for the show.

1979 – The New York Knicks retired #10, Walt Frazier’s number. Frazier played basketball at SIU and led the Salukis to the 1967 NIT championship. He was the first Saluki to have his jersey retired, #52. He was in Carbondale this past weekend as Grand Marshall for the Homecoming parade. Frazier is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

Walt Frazier at Homecoming Hoops, an event prior to the football game, featuring the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Salukis. (photo by William Becque)


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