The history of Greek-letter organizations – fraternities and sororities – has been one of my great passions. I was likely the last person anyone in my high school would have suspected of joining a sorority in college. I am sure I would have agreed with them, too.
When I made my way to Syracuse University, I saw the houses with the Greek letters that edged Walnut Park, some more impressive than others, and wished I could tour them. My freshman roommate suggested I sign up for rush (as it was then called, today it’s known as recruitment) and go through the house tour round and then drop out of rush. It sounded like a terrific plan to me. I didn’t realize that I would find a chapter that I wanted to be a part of and I ended up pledging the New York Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi.
During my time in the chapter, I found the collection of bound Arrows, the fraternity magazine. I would sit in the second floor smoker, the open space between the stairs to the second floor and the stairs to the third, and read about the history of the organization.
In this blog I will share my love of the history of the women’s fraternity system and other assorted topics. My dissertation “Coeducation and the History of Women’s Fraternities 1867-1902″ chronicles the growth of the system and the birth of the National Panhellenic Conference. I will make the dissertation available in small chunks because it can get a bit boring in huge doses of APA style.
I have a Master’s degree from the College Student Personnel program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. My Master’s thesis details the history of the fraternity system at Southern Illinois University Carbondale from 1948-1960. The dates are significant ones – 1948 is when SIUC became a comprehensive university from its modest normal school roots; 1960 is when the first of the Small Group Greek housing opened. The thesis is available on the top menu.
I have been a volunteer for Pi Beta Phi since the 1980s when I served on Connecticut Alpha’s House Corporation and Michigan Beta’s Alumnae Advisory Committee. I am currently the Historian and Archivist for Pi Beta Phi. My Pi Phi historical posts appear on at www.piphiblog.org.
I have done research at the Student Life Archives and have written several histories of University of Illinois fraternity chapters for the Society for the Preservation of Greek Housing.
Other topics having to do with higher education also come into play. P.E.O., a Philanthropic Education Organization, was founded as a collegiate organization. I am a P.E.O. and I like to talk about its history. Colleges with which I have a personal connection – Knox College, Mount Holyoke, Washington and Lee, University of Michigan, Syracuse University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, to name a few – also find their way into these posts.
I love to speak about these topics, too. As a Syracuse alumna, I recently shared the history of the campus with the St. Louis Gamma Phi Beta alumnae in a talk entitled, “Syracuse, Sororities and a Pink Carnation.” In June 2013, I presented a session on the history of the Illinois State Chapter of P.E.O. at the Illinois State Convention in June. As promised, that talk is available on the header of this page.
I hope you’ll follow my blog. There’s a button to subscribe to updates. We who enjoy fraternity and sorority history need to stick together. I put together a Pinterest board about fraternity and sorority history. It is at http://www.pinterest.com/glohistory/.
If you would like to contact me, you can use the comment section of the newest posts or email me at franbecque (at symbol) hotmail.com . I had to turn off comments on any post older than two weeks due to the high amount of spam that was sent to those posts. Please know that I need to approve comments before they appear, so a random comment to me will not appear until I approve it. If you do not want your comment to appear, please let me know.
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