The 1,000th @GLOHistory Post, Thanks to You!

Yesterday I realized I had written 999 blog posts. What should I write about for post number 1,000? I posed that question on the Focus on Fraternity History Facebook group page and these are the questions I was asked. 

Has there ever been a study of Greek Alumni to see if they give back more to their Greek organization or more to the University?

Yes, I think there have been several. When done well, the fraternity and sorority experience can help endear an institution to its alumni/ae. When people have good memories and experiences they tend to give more of themselves to their organization and alma mater. I think that is human nature. Conversely, I think it is safe to say that those who have awful GLO experiences rarely give to their respective GLOs. Take a look at any GLO Foundation report. Check the giving by chapters listing and see the years with no one giving anything to the foundation. It’s my feeling that things weren’t going well in chapter life during those years merely by the lack of donors from that time.

Albert A. Okunade and Phanindra V. Wunnava in a January 2001 study, Alumni Giving of Business Executives to the Alma Mater: Panel Data Evidence at a Large Metropolitan Research University, found that male GLO members gave significantly more to the colleges they attended. I recall a study done in the 1990s by NPC and maybe NIC that showed that GLO affiliated members gave back to their campus and community more than non-affiliate classmates, but I can’t put my hand on it right now.


How are women’s fraternities similar and dissimilar from the literary societies of the day

Before intercollegiate athletics became a mainstay of collegiate life and before the introduction of the things we take for granted (indoor plumbing, electricity, automobiles, and telephones, etc.), there were literary societies. Monmouth College, where Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma were founded, had four literary societies, two for men, the Philadelphian and the Eccritean, and two for women. The Philomatheon Society was founded in 1857 and soon changed its name to the Amateur des Belles Lettres, and five years later, the Aletheorian was founded. The literary societies provided an avenue for competition in debate and oratory. They were independent organizations on their respective campuses. They were not affiliated with one another, although they might have had the same or a similar sounding name. They often had rooms in an academic building. What was missing in the literary societies was a sisterhood, something a little deeper and richer, than the literary societies provided.

Although I have made many visits to Knox College (five years of football Saturday’s worth), it wasn’t until recently that I saw the literary society names above the doors on Alumni Hall.

Knox College’s Alumni Hall housed the two literary societies, Adelphi and Gnothautii. Each occupied a wing on the side of a central auditorium.

The Adelphi wing














Who were your mentors? What blogs did you follow that led you to the decision to begin yours? 

Mentors? They are more like inspirations. I count William Raimond Baird, Beta Theta Pi, and Ida Shaw Martin, Tri Delta founder, as mentors, even though I was born after each left the earth. Luckily, I collect their works and I am in awe of the books they compiled, Baird’s Manual of American College Fraternities and the Sorority Handbook, respectively. Former Pi Beta Phi Grand Council member Evelyn Peters Kyle was an inspiration and a mentor of sorts, although I wish I could have met her in her heyday. Sarah Ruth “Sis” Mullis has been a part of Pi Phi history since she accepted her bid from the Pi Phi chapter at the University of South Carolina. I will often ask her for her perspective and knowledge of people and events. She has attended every Pi Phi convention since 1962 and she has a terrific memory.

There really was no forethought on beginning this blog, at least none that I can recall. I just started. My dissertation, Co-education and the History of Women’s Fraternities 1867-1902, documented the beginnings of the women’s fraternity/sorority system. I recounted the history of the seven founding National Panhellenic Conference organizations and the manner in which NPC came into existence. I was acquainted with the history of many of the NPC groups. I had also done research at the Student Life and Culture Archives and was often sidetracked by interesting people, places, and things. I wanted to tell some of the  stories I found. Fundamentally, I believe the more we know about each other’s GLO and the more connections we can find between ourselves, the better off for all of us.


What changes have you seen in the area of GLO history?

In the dark ages before the world wide web, information was hard to find. There were books. They were found in libraries and in bookstores. Sometimes it was possible to buy a copy of a fraternity history or borrow one on interlibrary loan. I remember requesting the heavy, bound editions of Banta’s Greek Exchange through interlibrary loan, lugging them home, and poring through them, making copies and notes about interesting articles and information

The internet has opened wide the opportunity to share fraternity history. Fraternity history books and past issues of GLO magazines have been digitized and are sometimes available on the organization’s website. Recent GLO magazine issues are routinely on-line and accessible.  Information is so much easier to find. And it’s possible to find others with the same interests. I feel blessed to have friends within the community who will answer my questions, direct interesting information to me, and put up with my incessant historical blathering when we meet in person.

I firmly believe that it is imperative for GLO members to know the history of their organization. Too often, it is glossed over for other types of programming, or it is used in a punitive way (learn these names or you won’t be initiated). Realizing that you are part of something so much greater than yourself, with a host of people who have come before you, who led lives much different from your own, and, yet, at the same time, that your efforts and actions are integral to the future of the organization, is something that I wish every newly initiated member could comprehend with full import.


Do you think we’ll ever see a significant expansion of GLOs outside of North America?

Expansion outside of North America has occurred, but I would not bet the farm on it being a significant expansion. I don’t think the time and place are ripe for it to happen as it did in the U.S. in the mid to late 1800s and early 1900s when the stage was set for the growth of the early 1900s. By then there were GLO systems at many institutions (in part because the organizations helped fill a need for housing) and the groups became an accepted part of campus life. The expansion to Canada came slowly but I think the Canadian institutions and chapters have more similarities to their American counterparts than they do to their European ones. 


How has the internet (for better or worse) changed GLO history? Myth Busting and more access to historical records I’m sure are positives– any negatives?

I love that my Chi Omega friend Lyn Harris chimed in “I think the myths are worse! Once something is posted on a chapter website or Twitter, etc. it spreads like wildfire!”  I am always reminded of the quote about a lie making it half way round the world before the truth ties it shoelaces. I thought it was Mark Twain’s quote but is not. 

 For the first few years I wrote this blog, I railed against the charticle proclaiming “All but two American presidents born after….” and “both female Supreme Court justices” and the “first American female in space.” These factoids are all patently false. I haven’t seen the charticle lately on Twitter where it was routinely retweeted. I count that as a win.

The best thing, however, is that the internet has  provided the opportunity for fraternity history nerds to share their love of the history of the organizations. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis have my sincere gratitude. And if you’ve made it this far in the post you just might get a prize. People tend to stop reading after about 400 words.

Your take on the evolution of your posts; what stands out to you re your interests and what seems to get the most “likes”. Hugs to you and congrats! 

I write and rarely pay attention to how many times something is shared or liked. The sad fact that each day is a new day in the blogosphere. Great posts are hidden away, lost in the ones that followed it. What few people know is that the site is easily searchable. A Kappa who wants to know what I’ve written about Kappa needs merely to type “Kappa Kappa Gamma” in the little search box on the right side of the page; she will find dozens of entries about Kappa. And thanks, dear friend, for the hugs and congrats!


Can you do a Top 10 List of your favorites from your 1000 posts?

That’s like picking my favorite child! The U.S. Presidents and First Ladies post is the consistent view getter. The Olympian and Miss America posts highlighting the names of participants with GLO affiliations are always popular. Every September 11, the list of GLO members who perished makes the rounds again. Those posts are available on the page header.

Here are some other favorites:

Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Harvard

But I Really Wanted My Daughter to be My Sister

A White Dress, an Alumna Initiate, and Saying Goodbye to a Sister

Do Not Join a Fraternity If:

5 Myths About Sorority Recruitment

I personally love the #amazingsororitywomen posts (available on the right column), a series I started for Women’s History Month.

I love this wonderful wine carnation made by Lake Angel Glass!

Thank you dear readers for making it this far in this post. Thanks for your interest in GLO History. I apprecaite it more than you will ever know.


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