“Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” and Alpha Omicron Pi

If you look at the list of Founders’ Days at the bottom of this blog, you will see that I have Alpha Omicron Pi listed as celebrating Founders’ Day, today, December 8. According to the post on the AOPi website:

Each chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi is expected to celebrate Founders’ Day. AOII was founded on January 2, 1897, but, due to the holidays, that date is often problematic for members to gather to celebrate the founding of our Fraternity. At the 1921 AOII Convention, Founders’ Day was officially changed to December 8, the birthday of Founder Stella George Stern Perry. Because December 8 is often right before or during finals, not to mention in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, most chapters wait to celebrate Founders’ Day until January, or even February.

 I found this item in a 1917 To Dragma of Alpha Omicron Pi:

How could I not leave that tidbit of information alone? Grace Humiston was the subject of a recent book by Brad Ricca. A 1903 NYU yearbook lists Mary Grace Quackenbos as a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter.

Here is some more information about “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.”

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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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Connecting the Past to the Present and the Future

Daniel Webster Crofts, while a student at Jefferson College (now Washington and Jefferson College), became a founder of Phi Gamma Delta. He was born on December 3, 1828.

After graduation, he tried his hand at teaching and then settled on the study of the law. He suffered from tuberculosis, and in 1851, he moved to Clinton, Louisiana, to try to recover from its scourge. His quest for renewed health was unsuccessful; he died on January 8, 1852, alone and penniless in a hotel, at the young age of 23. The items he brought with him, including his gold Phi Gamma Delta badge, were sold to pay his medical and burial bills. 

In 1900, Phi Gamma Delta placed a memorial stone on his grave. On Saturday, alumni and collegiate members of the Phi Gam chapter at Louisiana State University paid their respects and cleaned his gravesite. Perhaps that effort will help connect the collegiate members to a man about their age who lived nearly more than 150 years before them. They share a common bond, the fellowship of Phi Gamma Delta, a gift Daniel Webster Crofts and the other founders gave to them.

Today’s Greek-letter organization members are entrusted with their organization’s welfare. It is a precious gift and one that can easily be damaged through willful or accidental breakage. It is up to these young members and their cohorts to make sure that their organization is viable for another two centuries at least. It is not a task to be taken lightly or half-heartedly.


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Jim Nabors, Delta Tau Delta, and Meghan Markle, Kappa Kappa Gamma

Jim Nabors, a member of Delta Tau Delta, who would forever be known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle, died yesterday, November 30, 2017. His website gives this credit to his fraternity:

The son of Mavis and Fred Nabors, Jim was born and raised in Sylacauga, Alabama, where he first began singing in his high school’s glee club and church choir.

A show business career was soon set aside when Jim entered the University of Alabama to major in business administration. He got his first taste of acting at the Jason’s Jamboree, a Greek skit show in which he performed as a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

Jimmy Nabors, 1952


My previous post announced the engagement of Meghan Markle, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Prince Harry. I did not include this composite photo or Kappa’s announcement. Readers who are Royal followers, might delight in these two items.

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A Kappa Royal, a Miss Teen USA, a Presidential Painting, and an Exhibit

Have you heard that Britian’s Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle, a Kappa Kappa Gamma? Odds are that her royal title will be Duchess of Sussex. Markle is an initiate of the Kappa chapter at Northwestern University. My Alpha Gam friend Nann reminded me of this book (she is, after all, a retired librarian). Princess Margaret was not a Kappa Kappa Gamma, and the Kappa Kappa Gamma will likely not be a Princess, but she might be a Dutchess.

A Southern Belle Primer: Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma was published in 1991.


The new Miss Teen USA, Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff, is a member of  Pi Beta Phi at the University of Kansas. The list of sorority women competing for the Miss USA 2018 title grows longer. Miss Arkansas USA and former Miss America Savvy Shields are members the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter at the University of Arkansas and were Big and Little Sisters. The newly crowned Miss Tennessee USA and her mother both share the same title and are also Kappa Delta sisters.


Last year, Gatlinburg, Tennessee was engulfed in flames. This year, the exhibit on display at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is Art from the Ashes. The exhibit was
conceived by Frances Fox and Kelly Hider. It is an exhibition by local artists whose lives and careers were  impacted by fire. Frances Fox, a weaver herself, is an expert on the weaving done by those who wove for Arrowcraft, a cottage industry created in the 1920s by Pi Beta Phi through its Settlement School in Gatlinburg. Her collection of vintage Arrowcraft items was lost to the fires. About a decade ago, at a convention, she became a Pi Phi. If you find yourself in Gatlinburg, I encourage you to visit the exhibit.

This fiber piece was made by Frances Fox.


The Kappa Alpha Theta chapter house at Southern Methodist University is likely the only sorority house with  a painting by a former U.S. president on display. The Beta Sigma Chapter recently built a $9.5 million house on the site of its former home. Laura Welch Bush is an initiate of the chapter and the library in the new house is named for her. On display in the library is a painting by her husband, President George W. Bush.

Thetas Laurie Connor and Avery Hinson in front of the painting by President George W. Bush.

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Phi Sigma Sigma 75 Years Ago

Phi Sigma Sigma was founded at Hunter College on November 26, 1913. Its original name was Phi Sigma Omega, but it was discovered that the name was already in use. Its founders are Lillian Gordon Alpern, Josephine Ellison Breakstone, Fay Chertkoff, Estelle Melnick Cole, Jeanette Lipka Furst, Ethel Gordon Kraus, Shirley Cohen Laufer, Claire Wunder McArdle, Rose Sher Seidman and Gwen Zaliels Snyder.

Phi Sigma Sigma founders

Recently, I highlighted the World War I service of a sorority woman. Today, on Phi Sigma Sigma’s Founders’ Day, I recognize the World War II service of one of its Archons.

Thelma B. Zackin, when she was the National Tribune,was a member of the Red Cross Motor Corps in Waterbury, Connecticut, her hometown. In a report in the sorority magazine, it was noted:

Her unit has a station wagon and she has regular days each week for driving and does all kinds of errands for the Red Cross, Clinics, and Mobile Units. Thelma is assigned to a Mobile Unit and drives her car with a doctor and staff of first aid assistants whenever they are called out for an emergency. She is also a certified Red Cross instructor and has taught quite a number of classes.

Thelma B. Zackin

The September 1948 issue of the Jewish Post included this press release:

NEW YORK—The United Jewish Appeal disclosed this, week that it had expanded its mobilization of Jewish women in the U.S. to include young women on the college campuses of the nation. UJA officials announced they had received a check for $1,000 in contributions from members of Phi Sigma Sigma, national sorority.

Miss Thelma B. Zackin, Waterbury, Conn., Grand Archon of the sorority presented the check to Mrs. Ernest G. Wadel of Dallas, Tex., chairman of the UJA National Women’s division. The gift to the UJA was voted at a recent national convention by 23 campus chapters and 20 alumni groups. Members of the sorority have contributed more than $5,500 to UJA community campaigns during the past year, UJA officials said. Mrs. Wadel said that the money ‘symbolizes the new spirit of responsibility assumed by growing numbers of Jewish women throughout the nation.’ Miss Zackin said that ‘this opportunity to participate in the development of the world’s youngest democracy is surely one which we cannot and will not miss.’ The sorority was believed to be the first U. S. college group to take such action.

Zackin died in 2009 at the age of 102. She resided in Waterbury almost her entire life. She graduated from New York University in 1927. After teaching and working in the family business, she kept busy in her retirement. She travelled to New York City two days a week to volunteer at Hadassah’s National Headquarters.



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Happy Thanksgiving GLO Kindred Spirits!

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for those of you who are reading this post.  I’ve been writing these posts for five years. I’m closing in on 1,000 posts. I adore my loyal readers. I appreciate you and I am grateful that some of you let other kindred spirits know about these posts. The search bar on the side has become my friend as I try to find posts I’ve written. It can help readers find posts of interest, too.

Yesterday was the date in 1899 upon which Hoagland “Hoagy” Carmichael was born. A proud Indiana University alumnus, he was a member of Kappa Sigma. He wrote many songs which are part of the Great American Songbook – Skylark, Georgia on My Mind, The Nearness of You, Heart and Soul, Stardust, and In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening. When I was researching a Sigma Nu chapter, I recall reading that he often played the piano at the Sigma Nu house, where future IU President, Herman Wells, was a member.

Hoagy Carmichael in a 1925 Arbutus yearbook.

And for fun, an old Thanksgiving post Cookbook authors who are sorority women.


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Tri Delta “On the Battle Line” 100 Years Ago

Thanksgiving Eve, November 27, 1888, is the date upon which Delta Delta Delta was founded. Although there are four founders, the force behind its founding was Boston University senior Sarah Ida Shaw [Martin]. In the days before research involved a few keystrokes on a computer, she studied the world of Greek-Letter Organizations and she set her mind upon founding one. She, along with fellow senior Eleanor Dorcas Pond [Mann, M.D.] decided to start a society of their own. Pond suggested that they use a triple Greek letter and Shaw chose the Delta. Shaw also developed the mottoes and passwords.

Shaw and Pond threw themselves into the details associated with the founding. All was finished by Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, 1888, but the two met again on Wednesday afternoon, before leaving for the holiday. They met in the Philological Library at the top of the college building. Shaw and Pond embraced and said “Tri Delta is founded.”

Shaw and Pond were intent on getting the other two unaffiliated seniors, Florence Stewart and Isabel Breed  to join. Although these two did not take part in the actual formation of Delta Delta Delta as Pond and Shaw had done, the four are considered founders. 

One hundred years ago, the United States found itself at war in Europe. College women, although they had few rights and avenues of service opened to them, found ways to contribute to the war effort. The November 1917 Trident, in an article titled Tri Deltas on the Battle Line reported on these brave women:

There are a number of Δs who are actively engaged in war work in varied fields of service. Among them:

Florence Hulett, Θ, expects to go to France in October as a Red Cross nurse.

Margaret Dodd, Θ I, is in Paris with her aunt. She went with the American Ambulance Corps in April, 1916.

Lucille Gallager, ΘΘ, is a Red Cross nurse in active service. 

Ella N. Hair, Λ, has gone to France with a New York Hospital Unit.

Mary Mclntire, Λ, has been called by the Roumanian Commission to go with a special unit for constructive work in that country. They expected to arrive in Petrograd in August.

Clara Taylor, ΔE, sailed September 27 from San Francisco to go to Petrograd via Japan, and do war relief work under the auspices of the Y.W.C.A.

Mrs. W. W. Hanly, Ξ, has been appointed to a commission to plan systematic war work for the women’s organizations of the State of Maryland.

Amy Merkel, Z, is taking a course in Red Cross nursing in New York City, where her husband. Captain Merkel, is stationed with the Ordnance Department.

Alice Ames, M, is under orders to go abroad very soon with the Presbyterian Hospital (Chicago) Unit.

Elizabeth Powell and Gail Dickson, Υ, were so influenced by Red Cross courses last spring that the first has entered Presbyterian Hospital, and the second St. Luke’s, in October, for nurses’ training.

Mrs. (Amy Olgen) Parmelee is ‘Red Cross Captain’ for the public school across the street from her home. With the help of a ”lieutenant’ in each room, the work is done entirely under her supervision. The higher grades knit, the lower grades snip for fracture pillows. The boys’ activities are especially the making of fine knitting needles (the Red Cross and Navy League exchange them at ten cents a pair for yarn), making trench torches, and ration heaters. The children are enthusiastic. Helen Sonnen and Ethel Gale, Y, are among the ‘lieutenants.’

Metta Legler Junkin, ΘT, has composed the music for a patriotic song written by Mr. Junkin. When Mrs. Junkin sings for the soldier boys at the cantonments they take great pleasure in singing it with her, and she has already distributed 35,000 copies of it.

Madge Henry. ΘE, is playing her violin in the southern camps to entertain the soldiers.

Tri Delta’s Alpha Chapter

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Sorority Women Competing in Miss USA 2018

Here are the sorority women who are competing in the Miss USA 2018 competition as far as I can determine. If there are additions or corrections to this list, please contact me.

Miss Alabama USA, Hannah Brown, Alpha Chi Omega, University of Alabama

Miss Arkansas USA, Lauren Weaver, Kappa Kappa Gamma, University of Arkansas (Her “big” is Savvy Shields, Miss America 2017)

Miss Colorado USA, Chloe Brown, Pi Beta Phi, Arizona State University

Miss Delaware USA, Sierra Wright, Delta Zeta, West Chester University

Miss District of Columbus USA, Bryce Armstrong, Sigma Gamma Rho, Howard University

Miss Illinois USA, Karolina Jasko, Phi Sigma Sigma, University of Illinois at Chicago

Miss Indiana USA, Darrian Arch, Delta Zeta, DePaul University

Miss Kansas USA, Melanie Shaner, Delta Gamma, University of Kansas

Miss Louisiana USA, Lauren Vizza, Sigma Kappa, Louisiana Tech University

Miss Maryland USA, Brittinay Nicolette, Alpha Chi Omega, Lynchburg College 

Miss Mississippi USA, Laine Alden Mansour, Kappa Delta, University of Mississippi

Miss Nebraska USA, Sarah Rose Summers, Zeta  Tau Alpha, Texas Christian University

Miss New Jersey USA, Alexa Noone, Zeta Tau Alpha, The College of New Jersey

Miss South Dakota USA, Madison Nipe, Alpha Phi, University of South Dakota

Miss Tennessee USA, Alexandra Harper, Kappa Delta, University of Mississippi (Alexandra and her mother are the first mother/daughter duo to hold the same state title. Her mother Sharon Steakly Harper was the 1981 Miss Tennessee USA. Sharon is also a Kappa Delta). 

Miss Texas USA, Logan Lester, Delta Gamma, Texas A&M University

Miss Virginia USA, Ashley Vollrath, Kappa Delta, Virginia Tech


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

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Alpha Sigma Alpha and Wilma Wilson Sharp

Alpha Sigma Alpha was founded on November 15, 1901, at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia. Its founders had been asked to join some of the other sororities on campus, but they wanted to stay together. The five, Virginia Lee Boyd (Noell), Juliette Jefferson Hundley (Gilliam), Calva Hamlet Watson (Wootton), Louise Burks Cox (Carper) and Mary Williamson Hundley, started their own sorority, and they called it Alpha Sigma Alpha.

(Sarah) Ida Shaw Martin, who as a collegian at Boston University was a founder of Delta Delta Delta, played an integral role in Alpha Sigma Alpha’s early history. Martin had written the Sorority Handbook, first published in 1907. She was an expert on women’s fraternities/sororities.

Alpha Sigma Alpha sought Martin’s help in 1913. While 13 chapters had been installed, only the Alpha chapter was viable. Martin encouraged the organization to consider extension to the Pi Alpha Tau organization at Miami University. In May 1913, the Pi Alpha Taus became an Alpha Sigma Alpha chapter. Alpha Sigma Alpha realized Martin’s knowledge and assistance could help the group grow. She was elected its National President. Although she never presided at a convention, she was guiding the proceedings from behind the scene. Martin led Alpha Sigma Alpha until 1930, when Wilma Wilson Sharp was elected National President.

Wilma Wilson Sharp

Wilma Wilson was a charter member of the Zeta Zeta Chapter at Central Missouri State University when it was installed on April 4, 1919. She became National Registrar three years later. In 1930, she was elected National President. She served until 1936 when she became National Finance Chairman and two year after that, National Education Director. In 1941, she again became National President and served until 1952. In 1947, when Alpha Sigma Alpha entered the process of becoming a full fledged member of the National Panhellenic Conference, she was its first NPC Delegate; she spent a decade in that chair. As a testament to her decades of service, she was named National President Emerita. She wrote The Alpha Sigma Alpha Creed.

The Wilma Wilson Sharp Award recognizes an alumna member of Alpha Sigma Alpha “who has distinguished herself through service to her community, her profession and has shown significant leadership qualities, loyalty and continued service to Alpha Sigma Alpha.”

The Alpha Sigma Alpha Foundation’s Wilma Wilson Sharp Society recognizes donors who have included the Foundation as a beneficiary of their “wills, life insurance policies, retirement plans or testamentary trust and annuities.”

The Alpha Sigma Alpha Creed

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