Kappa Delta was founded on October 23, 1897 at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia. Its founders are Lenora Ashmore Blackiston, Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson, Sara Turner White and Mary Sommerville Sparks Hendrick. Kappa Delta, along with Zeta Tau Alpha, Sigma Sigma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Alpha, were founded at the same institution and comprise the “Farmville Four.”
One hundred years ago, students had little opportunity to borrow funds for their education. There were no federal loan programs and banks did not offer much in the way of student loans. Scholarship programs were not commonplace and financial aid offices were not yet a thing. If one did not have the funds saved to pay for tuition, or a way to earn money during the semester, or did not have someone paying the bill, one was not able to attend the institution. Moreover, credit was not a way of life, as it is today.
Many women’s organizations started Loan Funds to provide their members with the opportunity to stay in college when it might not otherwise have been possible. These were loans, and the expectation was for the loan to be paid back, with interest, in a timely manner.
In 1916, Kappa Delta’s officers met in Sewanee, Tennessee, and a Loan Fund for Kappa Delta members was established. Each chapter was asked to contribute $5 and each alumna was asked to send $1. The alumnae “ask” was done by means of round-robin letters.
At the 1917 Birmingham convention, plans for the Kappa Delta Loan Fund were
adopted and a committee was appointed. That year, three loans for were granted. Four loans were given in 1918, and six the following year.
The chapters in Beta Province gave the funds they had budgeted for a dance at the 1917 convention. The goal for the Loan Fund was for it to become entirely self-supporting. It was noted, however, that the treasury was almost depleted. Since the program was in its infancy, the borrowed funds had not been fully repaid.
Lois Brown, a member of the University of Kentucky chapter wrote:
I had finished my second year at the University of Kentucky when it seemed impossible, financially speaking, for me to return to study. I remembered a long heart-to-heart talk I had with Becky Smith, and the Scholarship Loan Fund seemed the melting-pot for all my troubles and would-be worries. IT WAS. The year the Kappa Delta Loan Fund sent me back to the University was the happiest of all the four years, and the turning point, I might say, in more ways than one. Through good fortune, (I won’t say luck, for that’s the lazy man’s excuse) it was possible for me to return in the fall without asking for a further loan.
It was just like the creeks we found in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, bridgeless, and I had waded in just so far, when the foot log slipped, and I was left sinking. I sent out an S. O. S. call and the Kappa Delta Loan Fund appeared in the distance and helped me over the deepest part. Then I waded out on the other side; however, my feet are still in the water because I have not paid all that loan— but ‘blessed are they that keep their heads above water’ – and it was Kappa Delta at thhelped me do this.
If this sounds like a patent medicine advertisement, maybe I am ill, but you cured my ills once, and I’m hoping that the Loan Fund will have a healing effect on many other Kappa Deltas in the years that are to come.
Since the early years of the Loan Fund, Kappa Delta has helped its members. Last year, the Kappa Delta Foundation awarded $140,400 in scholarships to Kappa Delta graduates and undergraduates.