Two Alpha Gamma Delta Yeomanettes, #amazingsororitywomen, #WHM2017

During World War I, due to the wording of the U.S. Naval Reserve Act of 1916, 11,274 women were permitted to serve as Yeoman (F). The women were more familiarly known as “Yeomanettes.” Two of those Yeomanettes were Alpha Gamma Deltas from the University of Washington.

Alice Gerry is on this composite.

According to a report in Volume 10 of The Alpha Gamma Delta Quarterly, “The United States Navy called Hortense McClellan, ’18, and Alice Gerry, ’19, from their studies. They are among the veteran yeomanettes at the university naval training station.”

In the same volume, in a column called, “News from the Navy,” McClellan wrote:

Alice Gerry and I were the pioneer yeomanettes at the training camp, all alone among 10,000 or more men. Just imagine how wonderful it was to see ‘Irish’ Wiley dancing around when he got orders to go to sea shortly after I took over his work in the office. This thrill will always repay me for any personal dissatisfaction: the torment of a conspicuous uniform, unkind comment and treatment from an uninformed public, mud, rain, catching early boats, poor living conditions. All is forgotten when I remember that my service in the U. S. Navy has been the means of releasing a man for active duty… I would not give back my experience for anything in the world. It has meant new friends, a broader outlook upon life, self-confidence, and ambition. Lastly, let me add, fraternity teachings prepared and led me to seek the greatest war service that I was capable of fulfilling, and they have truly been a help in overcoming many difficulties.


Although the Yeomanettes wore uniforms and performed drills, they did not attend boot camp. Most of them did clerical work, including operating telephones and radios. They also assisted in recruiting stations. When the war ended the Yeomanettes were placed on inactive duty. In 1925, the Yeoman (F) loophole was closed and women could no longer serve in that capacity.

A poster for the Yeomanettes done by Howard Chandler Christy.

McClellan taught school in Carnation, Washington, and died in 1974. Gerry  died in 1991, two weeks before her 95th birthday. Her obituary in the Seattle Times, where she is identified as Mary Alice Gerry Bramble included this information about her service,  “It was shortly after enrolling in college that she joined the Navy. She served as a yeoman from 1918 to 1919, performing clerical work at the Puget Sound Training Camp in Bremerton. Although there were few women in the Navy, Mrs. Bramble felt women were treated with great respect…Every time the female sailors walked into a room, the men jumped up and saluted, treating them like petty officers.”

 © Fran Becque,, 2017. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates through the comments section below. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest
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Mary Master Needham, Alpha Chi Omega, #amazingsororitywomen, #WHM2017

Mary Masters became a member of Alpha Chi Omega at its Beta Chapter at Albion College, in Albion, Michigan. She later married Henry Beach Needham. The couple were writers, working as correspondents and doing freelance work. A 1913 Lyre reported, “In the Saturday Evening Post for February 15, appeared ‘A Minister’s Daughter’ by Mary Masters Needham, Beta. In the Post for November 30, appeared the highly interesting article ‘Going to School with the Movies,’ based on an interview with Mr. Edison. Mrs. Needham contributes to the Outlook and other magazines.”

The Needhams travelled to Europe. While there as a war correspondent for The Independent,  Henry Beach Needham was killed in a plane crash on June 17, 1915. He had asked the storied young British aviator Sub-Lieutenant Reginald ‘Rex’ Warneford to take him for a ride. While on the joy ride, the plane crashed. It was reported that his wife was pregnant at the time and later delivered a still-born baby.

Instead of returning home, Mary Masters Needham stayed in Europe. She served as a nurse in the early days of the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly. Her experiences were detailed in an article, “What a War Nurse Saw,” she wrote for the August 23, 1915 Independent.

The chapter report of the Theta Chapter at the University of Michigan in Volume 21 (1918) of The Lyre reported,The university has been extremely fortunate in its lectures this semester. Mary Masters-Needham, B, gave a most interesting talk on the reconstruction work in France. Several of the girls from Theta met her after the lecture and enjoyed visiting with her for a few moments.”

The following volume of The Lyre included an article, “Our Agricultural Workers and the Army Garden Service.” Needham was identified as a “Special Correspondent in France for the American Committee for Devastated France.”

She kept writing and publishing articles. In 1929, she earned a graduate degree at the University of Michigan.

In 1936, she published a book, Tomorrow to Fresh Fields: The Story of An Attitude, which chronicles her efforts and her husband’s efforts during “The Great War.” In the epilogue she noted:

I didn’t comprehend how I could live on. And, in truth, for ten years I didn’t live. At least that decade comprises what I must always call ‘my lost years’ — years that the locusts have eaten. During them I feigned and falsified both emotions and thoughts in an effort to come into some port on a beach no matter how barren. Not then would I accept the voyage on the open sea where only one can search for beauty and for truth.

In 1929 I went to the University of Michigan for some graduate work. I thought of this venture as a kind of last gesture to retrieve something — anything — that had the breath of life. It proved to be an experience which I would recommend to others suffering from the disease of my generation could I be sure they would fall under just the combination of truth-giving instruction and guidance I found there.

At this University I met, too, a group of youth — post-war youth. To my surprise I found they had much to say to me and I something to say to them. I found, in short, that we could and did talk the same language. In the war I had seen the birth of many of their problems. I had been one of those who had helped to smash the trammels of many conventions out of which they now walked unfettered — often to the horror of their elders! I understood the necessity in their efforts to construct — usually by trial and error methods — a new scale of values, for had I not helped to throw overboard the old! I came even to comprehend what they themselves did not wholly realize — the reason for their restlessness. They wanted life. They wanted it more abundantly. They were not getting it. Surrounded on all sides by us who had passed judgment on life — its futility, its vanity — how could they hope to escape from that judgment?

Mary Master Needham died on January 17, 1955 at the age of 71.

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#BadgeDay17 – @NPCWomen International Badge Day Turns 20

But isn’t the badge a pin? And isn’t what you call a women’s fraternity really a sorority? And really, isn’t that just for when you are in college? Why in the world do you still volunteer for an organization you joined as a freshman in college, when Gerald Ford was President?

Yes. Sort of, well, yes, without having to tell you about Frank Smalley, a Latin professor at Syracuse University. No, it shouldn’t be. I volunteer because I believe in the organization. It is my way of honoring those who came before me and those who will come after me.

Bottom line – I believe in the Creed of the National Panhellenic Conference:

We, as undergraduate members of women’s fraternities, stand for good scholarship, for guarding of good health, for maintenance of fine standards, and for serving, to the best of our ability, our college community. Cooperation for furthering fraternity life, in harmony with its best possibilities, is the ideal that shall guide our fraternity activities.

We, as fraternity women, stand for service through the development of character inspired by the close contact and deep friendship of individual fraternity and Panhellenic life. The opportunity for wide and wise human service, through mutual respect and helpfulness, is the tenet by which we strive to live.

Today, the first Monday in March is NPC International Badge Day, a day for members to wear their respective NPC badges. If  “pin attire” is not worn, then it is perfectly acceptable to wear letters, those articles of clothing sporting the Greek letters.

NPC consists of 26 women’s organizations, and over the years, other Greek-letter organizations have joined in the fun. The more the merrier!

The National Panhellenic Conference’s International Badge Day began in 1997.  In the spring of 1996, after she wore her Alpha Sigma Alpha pin to work one day, Nora M. Ten Broeck wrote an article about her experience. It appeared her sorority’s magazine, The Phoenix, and was titled “A Simple Solution – Wear Your Membership Badge Today.” Her NPC collegues loved the idea and endorsed the project. The month of March was chosen because it is also National Women’s History Month.


In my own little world, I celebrate NPC flower weeks. I have always loved carnations, and when I was handed a wine carnation, Pi Phi’s flower, it just sealed the deal. Since I am big on Panhellenic spirit, I will tell you that currently sitting on my table are pink carnations, Gamma Phi Beta’s flower. Last week it was Alpha Chi Omega’s red carnations. I noticed the violets are blooming in the back yard and soon I will celebrate Tri Sigma and Sigma Kappa. Any week now, Kroger will have iris and I will celebrate Delta Phi Epsilon and Kappa Kappa Gamma. I love this chart of NPC flowers, so I offer it you again. Feel free to play along.

P.S. Be sure to read about the #amazingsororitywomen who have worn badges and in their own ways have performed wise and wide human service. There are links on the right hand side of the page.

The graphic that Delta Gamma posted on a past May 24, the date NPC was founded.

© Fran Becque,, 2017. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates through the comments section below. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Gertrude Falkenhagen (Bonde), Alpha Omicron Pi, #amazingsororitywomen, #WHM2017

Alpha Omicron Pi’s Tau Chapter at the University of Minnesota was founded on October 29, 1912. Gertrude Falkenhagen was one of its early members. Falkenhagen graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1917 with a B.S. in Home Economics. That year, the American Dietetics Association (today it is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) was founded “by women dedicated to helping the government conserve food and improve the public’s health and nutrition during World War I.”

Serving as a dietitian during World War I was indeed paving new ground. Travelling from Minnesota to France was no easy task. But Falkenhagen took the challenge. And while she was on the other side of the ocean doing her patriotic duty, the alumnae of her chapter gave this report in To Dragma of Alpha Omicron Pi:

Bonds, stamps, Red Cross, Y. M. C. A., Belgian babies, War Chest, etc.—how we have learned to count our support of these a privilege in the world’s great cause….Red Cross has received most of our active service. Every girl has averaged six hours a week making surgical dressings or sewing, most of them doing the work after a full day of activity in the business world, in schools, and homes. I cannot make an estimate of the number of knitted things sent to soldiers or the number of garments made at home for refugees, for most of us have lost count. Belgian babies and French orphans are our next objects of interest and we have all contributed toward these little people overseas in the past few years and are continuing to give through our ‘War Chest’ which includes all the war funds in this particular section for work at home and abroad.

Gertrude Falkenhagen has been in France for some time with Base Hospital No. 126. She is our only representative in France and we are wonderfully proud of ‘Trudie,’ glad she can be there with her wholesome good spirits and capable service.

Gertrude Falkenhagen, dietitian for Base Hospital No. 65 while stationed in France. She is pictured sitting on a large rock along a shoreline. (Photo from State Archives of North Carolina)

After the war, she returned and continued her career. The Minnesota Alumnae Chapter report in the May 1918 To Dragma included this question, “Do you all know that Gertrude Falkenhagen is a dietitian in Niagara Memorial Hospital at Niagara Falls, N . Y.?” In 1920, she took a job as a dietitian at a hospital in Kent, Ohio.

The May 1923 To Dragma, announced her engagement to Roy W. Bonde. It was noted Bonde was a businessman from Montevideo, about 140 miles west of Minneapolis, the town listed as Falkenhagen’s hometown in University of Minnesota catalogs. The customary five pound box of chocolates was shared with the alumnae chapter.

The couple was married in Montevideo on Tuesday, August 21, 1923 at the home of the bride’s aunt, Mrs. Johannes Hanson. The maid of honor was Marion Mann, an AOPi sister. The Bondes took a honeymoon boat trip to Belle Isle, Isle Royale, Michigan, and then made their home in Montevideo.

She died in 1971 and her husband died a year later. They are buried in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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Grace Lumpkin, Phi Mu, on Founders’ Day, #amazingsororitywomen #WHM2017

Phi Mu was founded on January 4, 1852 at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Originally known as the Philomathean Society, it was founded by Mary DuPont (Lines), Mary Myrick (Daniel) and Martha Hardaway (Redding). The founding was publicly announced on March 4, 1852, the day that is celebrated as Founders’ Day. On August 1, 1904, the group received a charter from the state of Georgia and was established as Phi Mu Fraternity. The second chapter was founded at Hollins College in 1904. Phi Mu joined the National Panhellenic Conference in 1911.

During World War I, Phi Mu voted to send an official war worker to France. Grace Lumpkin, from the Mu Chapter at Brenau College, the Fraternity’s Philanthropic Board Chair, sailed for France along with other war workers from the Y.W.C.A.

Grace Lumpkin

The November 1919 Aglaia included “An Opportunity for Service.” It offered Phi Mus a chance “to help along the work being done by American women in France, and incidentally to live the ideals of love and service that Phi Mu upholds. Remember the words of our Creed: ‘to minister to the needy and unfortunate.’ These French girls are needy,— in their lack of interests and pleasure as well as in their absence of funds. How many Phi Mus will respond to this appeal?”

Lumpkin, coincidentally the author of the Phi Mu Creed, was asking Phi Mus to “adopt” a French young woman and exchange letters and photos. She though “it would bring into the lives of some of the girls to have that interest.” She added, “I have had dozens of chances of doing that this summer, and as I’ll continue in French Work there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be other chances. If the girls would send in through you, or straight
to me, their names and addresses, I could connect them with a girl here.” A follow-up explanation noted that the “French girls are most in need of is an added interest in life, something new and apart from their small world, which is now so sadly suggestive of sorrow and loss. There is no better way to meet this need than correspondence with
wide-a-wake, intelligent American girls, for the French are vitally interested in America, whose boys made the supreme sacrifice to help their cause.”

A letter in the January 1920 Aglaia, Lumpkin wrote from Chateau Thierry, “It seems almost impossible that for over a month I have been living in a part of devastated France.” She added:

Although I will probably not be here long, it has been a very wonderful experience, and it worries me that it isn’t possible to share it with you all. We have charge right now of the two cemeteries, Belleau Woods and Fere en Tardennois. Belleau has three thousand straight white crosses and Fere four thousand. At each cemetery is a small house which will have a bed, a cozy sitting-room, and facilities for serving tea to the American relatives who are already coming over to find the particular cross which marks the part of French soil that is their special, terrible sacrifice for the liberty of the world. The house at Belleau will serve luncheons also, to those who wish to stay longer, and there will even be facilities for people staying overnight, if necessary. Busses furnished by the Red Cross meet the trains and carry those who are looking up graves out to the different cemeteries. Both the houses will have the plans of the cemeteries in their living-rooms so that the graves can be looked up under shelter. One doesn’t realize the need of shelter unless he has spent a winter in France. Already we have had a good many relatives, and so we realize what the house may mean to them. And it means much to us, too, to be able to help make the burden of those who have sacrificed so much for us a little lighter.

When she returned from France, she worked for the Y.W.C.A. in Georgia for a time, before turning to writing as an occupation. She wrote for magazines and four of her books were published: To Make My Bread (1932); A Sign for Cain (1935); The Wedding (1939); and Full Circle (1962).

In the late 1920s, she became involved in the Communist Party, although she stated she was never a member of the Party. Her last book was a renouncement of communism. She died in 1980 at the age of 89.

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Eva Orrick Bandel Wilson, Alpha Phi, #amazingsororitywomen #WHM2017

In 1897, Evalina “Eva” Orrick Bandel graduated from the Woman’s College of Baltimore before it changed its name to Goucher College. During her years there, she joined the Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi. After graduation, her plans were to study at Oxford during the summer and she traveled through England and Scotland.

On November 17, 1897, she married John Glover Wilson, a Princeton University alumnus, who graduated at the top of his class. According to an account in The Alpha Phi Quarterly, it “was distinctively an Alpha Phi wedding; front seats at the church were reserved for the
chapter, the maid of honor and three of the bridesmaids were Alpha Phis, while the bride carried lilies of the valley.” Alumnae Ruth Adams, Jane Anderson, Grace Heisler, Katharine Baker, and Edith Wilson, attended the wedding and delighted the chapter by staying for initiation. In the summer of 1899, she gave birth to John, Jr. but the baby died six months later.

Sorores in Urbe were area alumnae.

John Glover Wilson was a lawyer. According to an account in a Princeton alumni publication, “he was a man of tireless industry and great capacity for details, with a logical and well-trained mind.” He spent most of his career as a railroad lawyer, representing the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. The Wilsons were included in The Street Directory of Baltimore Society Visiting List, also known as The Blue Book. He died on April 7, 1908 from “cerebral spinal meningitis which attacked him a few days previously and which was attributed indirectly to over work.”

The Wilsons were friendly with another Wilson, namely Woodrow, a Phi Kappa Psi, who was President of Princeton University before he was President of the United States. While Eva was a student, Woodrow Wilson presented a series of 25 lecture histories at Johns Hopkins University, and from the chapter account in The Alpha Phi Quarterly and a scholarship establsihed at JHU, it sounds quite possible that she attended these lectures.

As a widow of means without children, Eva Bandel Wilson had more freedom than most women to chart her own course. She spent two years working as a newspaper correspondent in France, during and after World War I. She attended the Peace Conference as an accredited correspondent, a very big deal for a woman in 1919. Perhaps her acquaintance with President Wilson, helped in this regard.

An article written by her, “A Post-War Work Worthy of Alpha Phi’s Best” appeared in the January 1920 Alpha Phi Quarterly.

From my experience as correspondent accredited to the Peace Conference and since my return to America, I am convinced that a great duty lies before the women of this country in educating public opinion in foreign affairs.

We are facing new international responsibilities which our delay in ratifying the Versailles treaty only postpones. It cannot prevent our taking part in world affairs, for in this age there are no hermit nations and no nation liveth to itself.

So we must prepare to take an intelligent part. And to do this, women must shoulder the greater share of the burden. Men are largely occupied with business and what affects it most closely. Women must begin their political life with wider views. As guardians of the garbage cans in their respective communities they will doubtless justify the bestowal of the ballot upon them, but educated women must do far more they must study world conditions, they must form intelligent, enlightened opinions about America’s responsibilities toward the rest of the world, and they must exert their utmost influence to supply one of the greatest needs in our political life a trained body of people to carry on our contracts with other nations and a trained public opinion to judge them justly.

As means to this end, I suggest that Alpha Phis in every place they live see to it that: 

Foreign affairs are given more space in their local papers, and are more widely studied in the schools, public and private, and in women’s clubs.

Eva Orrick Bandell Wilson

When she died in 1966, her will provided for the establishment of several scholarships and awards.  The Eva Orrick Bandel Wilson 1897 Scholarship is given by Goucher College. The Wilson Memorial Scholarship was established at Johns Hopkins University, where she once attended classes in the Evening College.

© Fran Becque,, 2017. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates through the comments section below. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Jeanette Barrows, Alpha Delta Pi, #amazingsororitywomen #WHM2017

Jeanette Virginia Barrows, a charter member of the Alpha Theta Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi at the University of Washington, was one of the more than 30 ADPi members who enlisted to serve in World War I. The women were not part of the armed forces, as any ADPi could be today, but did ancillary duty as nurses, dietitians, telephone operators and the like. Remember that World War I happened before women could vote in federal elections and when women’s life choices were quite limited. For a woman in Washington State, Europe was indeed on the other side of the world. 

A 1918 Adelphean chapter report noted that Barrows was one of the chapters five graduating seniors. The chapter correspondent wrote:

Although proud of our ‘wise seniors,’ our pride was not unmixed with sadness at the thought of parting. Their loss will be keenly felt in this chapter this coming year. We will scarcely know how to get on without them, yet we know they will not forget us, and the big things that are waiting for them to do help us to realize that they, too, must take their places in the life work which lies before them. Adeline and Flora are staying at home this summer helping their mothers, who have been ill. Next winter Adeline will teach history and English in the high school at Lebam. Jeanette is taking the course in reconstruction for disabled soldiers and sailors given at Reed College, Portland, Oregon, and hopes soon to be of real service to her country.

Jeanette Barrows

Volume 12 of The Adelphean carried a poem in memory of her.

From the joy, the youth of life,
From the pain, the earthly strife,
Flees a soul so pure, so true,
Into Heaven’s eternal blue,
For life’s golden, sad sunset
Has enveloped our Jeanette.

Barrows died of pneumonia on March 15, 1919 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. Anne Claire Crouley, the chapter’s correspondent, wrote The Adelphean, “Alpha Theta has suffered her first loss and this a great one.”

Barrows attended normal school (a teacher’s college) before entering the University of Washington. She pledged Alpha Delta, the local organization which later that fall became Alpha Delta Pi.  After graduation, she “spent the summer studying reconstruction aid work at Reed College. Portland, Oregon. She taught school last fall until the latter part of October when she received her appointment from the government as a reconstruction aid.”

She left for New York immediately upon receiving her appointment. When she left the west coast to make her way to the east coast via train:

Practically all Alpha Theta was at the depot, proud of the sister who was brave enough to leave home and friends for the calling of her country. We had given her an Alpha Delta Pi signet ring, flowers, and candy and she had said, ‘Why, I’m all decorated up like a Christmas tree.’

The signing of the armistice on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month changed the government’s plan for her.  She was ordered to Fort Snelling to work with the men who had been injured in France. Crouley wrote this about her chapter sister:

She always had a quaint, quiet sense of humor, never biting, but wonderfully sweet and winsome. She was so unobtrusive that she could be in a room almost unnoticed and still hold an indefinable influence of loyalty and fineness over all. All the ideals of Alpha Delta Pi were lived truly by Jeanette. Alpha Theta loved her and she was a girl who cannot be forgotten. It is impossible to express in words the sorrow Alpha Theta felt when we knew she was called. Out of that sorrow there is one comfort—that we were privileged to be her sisters and friends while she was here.

The Alpha Delta Pi Foundation remembers Barrows’ sacrifice. It awards the Jeanette Virginia Barrows Scholarship to a member of the Alpha Theta Chapter.  Preference is given to graduate students.

© Fran Becque,, 2017. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates through the comments section below. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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#WHM2017, PiKA, and Phi Mu Delta’s 99th

March is Women’s History Month (#womenshistorymonth, #WHM, #WHM2017). Last year I highlighted an outstanding sorority woman each day in March. I might try to do that this year, too, but it is a big commitment and other things might keep me from it. I’ll give it the old college try, but I make no promises. However, the links to last year’s posts are available on the #amazingsororitywomen link above and on the side of the page.

This morning, the Facebook page of Stewart House, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s founding home in Monmouth, Illinois, posted one of my favorite pictures of Dorothy Canfield Fisher.  (To read more about her, see


Today, Phi Mu Delta turns 99 years old. The fraternity’s roots are in the National Federation of Commons Clubs, a movement that was started at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University as an alternative to the fraternities there at the time.  By 1918, there were 19 chapters of the federation. At the 1918 Conclave, four of the chapters voted to start a fraternity, but ultimately only three of them did.  The Commons Clubs at the  Universities of Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut are the founding chapters of Phi Mu Delta. There are less than two dozen chapters and colonies of the fraternity, making it one of the smallest national fraternities; for an organization that barely made it through the tumult of the 1970s, that number is indeed positive and the fraternity is growing.


On March 1, 1868, Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity was founded at the University of Virginia. According to the Pi Kappa Alpha website:

It all started in Room 47 West Range when Frederick Southgate Taylor turned to Littleton Waller Tazewell, his cousin and roommate, for help in starting a new fraternity. Also present were James Benjamin Sclater,  Jr., a schoolmate of Tazewell, and Sclater’s roommate, Robertson Howard. Those four men voted to add a fifth to their group and chose Julian Edward Wood. In addition, William Alexander, probably a friend of Sclater, was proposed for membership and admitted as a founder. 

Senator Everett Dirksen, whose name is on the plaques in many buildings in Illinois, was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha. Dirksen is buried in Pekin, Illinois. We passed the cemetery many times as we drove the scenic back roads to Knox College to watch our sons play football.

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The University of Illinois Celebrates 150 Years

The University of Illinois is 150 years old today. It was on February 28, 1867 that Governor Richard J. Oglesby signed the Griggs Bill. The Illinois Industrial University, as it was then known, received its charter. 1867 was a very good year! A few months later, about 157 miles northwest of Champaign, another organization near and dear to my heart was founded at Monmouth College. I worked on compiling a 150 year time line of Pi Beta Phi’s history and I know first-hand that it is not an easy task.

I went to the timeline celebrating 150 years of the University’s existence ( and was disappointed to find absolutely no mention of the University’s place in the Greek-letter world. Delta Tau Delta, the first fraternity at the University was founded in 1872. It was followed by a Sigma Chi chapter in 1881. Both chapters faced serious anti-fraternity sentiment. The Delta Tau Delta chapter was short-lived. The Sigma Chi chapter’s first decade was difficult and the chapter was sub-rosa for a time and faltered. Things changed when  Dr. Thomas Jonathan Burrill became president in 1891. The anti-fraternity laws were rescinded a few months later. Sigma Chi came back to life.

The 1890s ushered in an era of GLO expansion. The first women’s organizations, Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi were installed within days of each other in the fall of 1895. The Kappa Alpha Theta charter from the chapter at Illinois Wesleyan was transferred to the University of Illinois. The Pi Phis had to wait for the Grand President to travel to Champaign from Galesburg, Illinois.

By 1920, the campus had more than 30 men’s fraternities and about a dozen National Panhellenic Conference sororities. Moreover, nothing was mentioned in the timeline about Thomas Arkle Clark, who is recognized as the nation’s first Dean of Men. Clark was a charter member of the Alpha Tau Omega chapter. During Clark’s tenure he founded the honorary, Phi Eta Sigma. Maria Leonard, the Dean of Women and a Pi Beta Phi, founded the honorary organization Alpha Lambda Delta. None of these facts were highlighted in the timeline. The only mention of organizations with Greek-letter names included in the timeline were those about chapters of professional fraternities. The lack of mention of Phi Eta Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta seemed quite odd to me, considering both were founded on campus.

Thomas Arkle Clark (Courtesy of the University of Illinois)

Maria Leonard

It was fun, however, to note the Kappa key on the picture in the information about Katharine Lucinda Sharp, the pioneering librarian. She also served as Kappa Kappa Gamma’s Grand President.

Alta Gwinn Saunders, the first woman to teach in the University of Illinois’ College of Business and then later the first woman to head a university department of Business English, was given a nod in the timeline. She was also a dedicated member of Delta Gamma. She edited The Anchora of Delta Gamma. She lost her life in a plane crash on the way to the Delta Gamma convention in Swampscott, Massachusetts.

In 1964, Sybil Mobley became the first woman of color to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Moreover, the center of the Greek-letter organization research world is located at the University of Illinois. The Student Life and Culture Archives is a vital resource for those who study GLOs. The collection of GLO magazines, histories, and collections of items relating to the organizations is astounding.

A banner in the University of Illinois Student Life and Culture Archives.

I know that it is difficult to condense 150 years of history into a manageable timeline. It would have been wonderful to see the timeline reflect the position that the University of Illinois has in fraternity and sorority life. Homecoming, the tradition of alumni returning to campus in the fall, on  a day when the football team plays a big rival, had its start in 1910. The first effort was championed by two fraternity men, with cooperation from the GLOs. News of the event was spread in the chapter reports of the University of Illinois GLO chapters which appeared in the GLO magazines. The idea spread like wildfire, boosted in large part by cooperation from the fraternities and sororities.

As disappointed as I was about the lack of recognition for the fraternity and sorority system in the history of the University of Illinois, I offer my sincere congratulations on the University’s 150th anniversary. I enjoy visiting the campus and doing research at the Student Life and Culture Archives. Truth be told, it reminds me of my Alma Mater, with fewer hills and less snow ( Happy 150th Illini friends!

© Fran Becque,, 2017. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Alumnae Initiates, Special Connections

On Friday night I fielded a phone call from my daughter about a small carnation guard attached to an arrow badge. I told her it was the old way that Pi Phi signified Golden Arrows, those who had been initiated for fifty or more years. I asked why she needed to know. She and a few members of the Lawrence Alumnae Club were with Kate, the woman who was going to be initiated as a Pi Phi on Saturday morning. Kate showed them her great-grandmother’s arrow and it had the carnation attached to it. They wanted to know the story behind the carnation.

The new alumna initiate of the University of Kansas Pi Phi chapter, Kate, is in the center.

Linda Ibsen, who served as a Pi Beta Phi Grand Council member and  NPC Delegate, and I started as Collegiate Province Presidents at about the same time. Our daughters, who were then in elementary school, are the same age. When it was time to choose a college, my daughter opted to go to Mount Holyoke College. Linda’s daughter went to the University of Kansas where she became a member of the Pi Phi chapter. When graduation came, Linda’s daughter found a job in Lawrence and stayed there. Four years after my daughter’s Mount Holyoke graduation, she was invited to be an alumna initiate of Pi Beta Phi at the 2011 convention (see She’s now a member of the Lawrence Alumnae Club along with Linda’s daughter, Katy.

On Saturday, Katy and my daughter took part in the initiation of a young woman whose great-grandmother, a Northwestern University Pi Phi, graduated in 1907 with a degree in mathematics.

This necklace with the Greek  letters belonged to the great-grandmother of the new Kansas Alpha alumna.


Another alumna initiation took place this weekend. Callie Hines, the niece of GLO speaker extraordinaire Mari Ann Callais, became a member of Delta Delta Delta at the organization’s Collegiate Leadership Conference. Over the past year, St. Jude Children’s Hospital has been a very real part in the lives of Callie and her. Her sister Emily, a high school student, received life-saving treatment at the hospital. Since 1999, Tri Delta has raised more than $2.8 million for the hospital and the partnership is honored with a named building, Tri Delta Place, the on the St. Jude campus. After her sister’s experience, Callie was hired to work in Entertainment Marketing at ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Callie Hines, Delta Delta Delta

I have several friends, and there are subscribers of this blog, too, who are alumnae initiates. I am sometimes asked why adult women would want to be initiated into a college sorority. Isn’t that experience attached to only the time as a collegian? Au contraire! Lifelong commitment, sincere friendship and the need for women to share each other’s lives knows no time limits. Congratulations Kate and Callie as you begin your lives as sorority women. May you both treasure the connections your respective badges provide you!

© Fran Becque,, 2017. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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