Alpha Epsilon Phi and Delta Zeta Share a Founding Day

Given that there are 365 days in most years and 26 National Panhellenic Conference organizations, I find it amazing that several NPC organizations were founded on the same day, albeit different years.

Alpha Epsilon Phi was founded on October 24, 1909 at Barnard College by Helen Phillips, Ida Beck, Rose Gerstein, Augustina “Tina” Hess, Lee Reiss, Stella Strauss and Rose Salmowitz. They came together and created an organization spurred on Phillips’ inspiration. She sought a way to stay in closer contact with her friends; Alpha Epsilon Phi was founded in her room.

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.

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Today, Alpha Epsilon Phi notes that the organization is a Jewish sorority, “but not a religious organization, with membership open to all college women, regardless of religion, who honor, respect and appreciate our Jewish identity and are comfortable in a culturally Jewish environment.”

Zelda Sicklick was a member of the second chapter of Alpha Epsilon Phi. She became a teacher and spent decades teaching in the New York City area.Screenshot (754)

Sicklick and her Beta Chapter members are named on the Certificate of Incorporation dated February 20, 1913. She was born in Russia in about 1891. She died in 1982. She and her sister Isabelle had a house in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Zelda made good use of her passport and seemed to do a great deal of international travelling.

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On October 24, 1902, Delta Zeta made its debut at Miami University in Ohio. Delta Zeta’s founders are Alfa Lloyd, Mary Collins, Anna Keen, Julia Bishop, Mabelle Minton, and Ann Simmons. It is interesting that Delta Zeta’s history includes the heritage of several former NPC organizations. Between 1941 and 1962, the members of four other NPC groups became members of Delta Zeta. The organizations with which Delta Zeta has absorbed or merged include Beta Phi Alpha, Theta Upsilon, Phi Omega Pi, and Delta Sigma Epsilon. Prior to these groups becoming a part of Delta Zeta, many had themselves merged with other groups.

The first group to become a part of Delta Zeta was Beta Phi Alpha; it was founded as Bide-a-wee on May 8, 1909 at the University of California-Berkeley. A few months later, the name changed to Aldebaran, In 1919, it became Kappa Phi Alpha. It then changed its name to Beta Phi Alpha. In 1923, Beta Phi Alpha joined NPC. On June 22, 1941, Beta Phi Alpha was absorbed by Delta Zeta. At that point, 30 chapters had been installed and there were 3,000 members. 

Phi Omega Pi was founded at the University of Nebraska on March 5, 1910. In its early years, membership was limited to those belonging to the Order of the Eastern Star. In 1931, this restriction was eliminated. It was granted associate NPC membership in 1930 and full membership in 1933. On October 1 of that year, Sigma Phi Beta, founded at New York University on November 1, 1920 under the name of Sigma Sigma Omicron, was absorbed by Phi Omega Pi. On August 10, 1946, Delta Zeta absorbed Phi Omega Pi.

Delta Sigma Epsilon was founded on September 23, 1914 at Miami University. In the fall of 1940, Pi Delta Theta merged with Delta Sigma Epsilon. In 1956, Delta Sigma Epsilon was absorbed by Delta Zeta. At the time of the merger more than 13,000 women had been initiated as Delta Sigma Epsilons members in its 52 chapters.

Theta Upsilon was founded at the University of California-Berkeley in 1914. Its roots can be traced to 1909 when a group of women rented a house on Walnut Street that they called “Walnut Shell.” On January 1, 1914, they organized as the Mekatina (“Among the Hills”) Club. Theta Upsilon was granted associate NPC membership in 1923 and full membership in 1928. In September 1933, Lambda Omega, which was founded on May 5, 1923 at the University of California-Berkeley, became a part of Theta Upsilon. On May 6, 1962, Theta Upsilon became a part of Delta Zeta.

Oxford, Ohio, where Delta Zeta was founded is also the location of its headquarters and museum. There is a wonderful virtual tour of the museum.

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