I keep track of the Miss America and Miss USA contestants. Yet, there are some who come to my attention who are not in these two categories. The contestants for the Miss America 2020 competition have been chosen, but here are sorority women wearing other crowns.
Kerri Arnold, a Chi Omega at University of Tennessee – Martin is Miss Tennessee Volunteer.
Four Miss Teen USA contestants are sorority women:
Miss Alabama Teen USA, Kalin Burt, Alpha Delta Pi, University of Alabama
Miss Nebraska Teen USA, Erin Shae Swanson, Kappa Alpha Theta, University of Nebraska
Miss New Hampshire Teen USA, Jadyn McDonough, Chi Omega, University of South Carolina
Miss New Jersey Teen USA, Ava Tortorici, Delta Phi Epsilon, Montclair State University
While the current Miss USA is not a sorority woman, there will be at least one competing in Miss Universe. She is Cindy Marina, Miss Albania. Marina is a volleyball player for the University of Southern California. She initiated into the Pi Beta Phi chapter at Duke University and affiliated with the chapter at USC when she transferred.
Please let me know of any current title holders I may have missed.
On this day in 1969, three men, the crew of Apollo 11, had just blasted off from the Florida coast and into the great beyond. John Paul Stevens was working in Chicago as a partner at Rothschild, Stevens, Barry and Myers, handling antitrust cases. In 1975, he was appointed Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Stevens died yesterday. He was a Psi Upsilon at the University of Chicago. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Delta Phi.
Despite internet reports to the contrary of the three men aboard Apollo 11, only one was a fraternity man. Michael Collins and Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr were West Point graduates where there are no social fraternities. Aldrin was elected to Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. Neil A. Armstrong was a fraternity man, an initiate of the Phi Delta Theta chapter at Purdue University.
Armstrong’s Phi Delt badge is the first fraternity badge to have been to the moon. He was the first man to walk on the moon. Upon his return to Earth, he presented the badge to Phi Delta Theta and it is on display at the fraternity’s headquarters in Oxford. However, contrary to rumor, he never pinned it on the American flag on the moon, nor did he pin his wife’s Alpha Chi Omega badge to the American flag.
A P.E.O. Connection
Aldrin carried with him a P.E.O. Centennial Charm in loving memory of his grandmother, Jessie Ross Moon. She was a member of the first Florida chapter of P.E.O., Chapter A, in Miami, as was his aunt, Madeline Moon Sternberg. His aunt and her chapter presented the charm to P.E.O. at the dedication of the P.E.O. Centennial Center on Sept. 29, 1969 during P.E.O.’s Centennial festivities.
Remiss is my word of the day. I have been remiss in acknowledging many accomplishments of GLO members over the past year. This week, I plan to play catch-up. I am also saddened to hear of the passing of a GLO friend.
Condolences to Sigma Nu
I first met Robert “Bob” McCully at the first Fraternity and Sorority Archivists Conference many moons again. Bob was a gentle soul with a great love for Sigma Nu and its history. I admired his knowledge of his fraternity’s history. My condolences to his family, friends, and Sigma Nu brothers. May his memory be a blessing.
GLO Members in Lego Form
How wonderful are these? The Women of NASA lego set is amazing. Two of the five women, Mae Jemison and Katherine Johnson, are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Sally Ride was not a sorority woman. I am unsure about the remaining two, Nancy Grace Roman and Margaret Hamilton. If anyone knows of a GLO connection, please let me know.
Mae Jemison was a member of the Shuttle Endeavour in 1992 and became the first African-American woman to travel in space. She is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is a Diamond member of the Lambda Omega Chapter (Newport News, VA) of Alpha Kappa Alpha. She was born on August 26, 1918 and she graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia State College in 1937. A year later, in 1938, she was one of three black graduate students admitted to West Virginia University, and the only female among the three. She taught math for several years until 1953 when she was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (today it is NASA). She retired in 1983. In 2015, she was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. On May 5, 2016, the 55th anniversary of Shepard’s quick trip into space, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility was dedicated at Langley Research Center.
From Our Alumni Magazines…
I have a tendency to cut things out of magazines. Here are two pages that were on my desk. This one was in the Winter 2018 SIU Alumni News. Congratulations to Silvana Filippello Richardson. Although Alpha Sigma Alpha wasn’t on campus long, amazing women are members of that chapter.
These shout-outs to Kappa Alpha Order appeared in the Washington and Lee Magazine within the last year.
Happy 243rd Birthday, America! We’re on the road to the Semiquincentennial / Sestercentennial / Bicenquinquagenary / Quarter-millennial of the United States in 2026. Phi Beta Kappa, the first Greek-letter organization will be celebrating an anniversary at the same time.
A TKE Surprise in the Mail
What a fun surprise it was to spy Tau Kappa Epsilon letters on the cover of the SIU Alumni News when I opened the mailbox yesterday.
Mark Yoder joined the Beta Chi Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon in 1977 when he was a computer science major. Dan Sepulveda, a 2009 graduate, served two terms as President of the chapter. His leadership led to the chapter being honored as well as his being named an International Top Teke. The pair met during the planning of the chapter’s 70 anniversary celebration planning and their trek to Mount Kilimanjaro was a fundraiser for the chapter’s support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. (The link to the article is not up yet, but I will add it when it is.)
An Amazing $20 Million Effort
Sigma Chi’s commitment to cancer research is impressive and noteworthy. The fraternity has joined in the effort of Sigma Chi Jon Huntsman, the founder of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, to eradicate cancer. A pledge of $20 million for women’s cancer research and treatment was recently announced at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. The funds will help support women’s cancer research and treatment at the Institute and the new Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women’s Cancers. An additional 11 million has been raised since the partnership between the two entities began.
Three Sigma Chi chapters – University of Utah, Oregon State University and Georgia Southern University – were recognized for their gifts of at least $100,000. Eleven chapters raised at least $50,000 and 37 raised at least $20,000. Kudos to all involved!
The post GLO convention “hit by a bus” feeling is still with me, but I feel compelled to write a post. The 70th Biennial Pi Beta Phi convention in Washington, D.C., the sixteenth convention I’ve attended, was a very special one for me. Rooming with my daughter, a 2011 convention alumna initiate, was what my soul sorely needed. And being around my Pi Phi friends was a true blessing.
Other highlights include meeting friends of my NPC archivist friends, seeing my friends honored with awards, and meeting new friends. (I had a long paragraph naming names, but it disappeared and my brain cells have revolted against recreating it. Sorry dear friends Sue, Sheila, Jan, Kim, Karen, and new friend Andrew. The interwebs are not cooperating today.)
Kyle Zimmer, co-founder of First Book, is a frequent Pi Phi convention attendee, but for the first time she sported an arrow badge. She was one of four convention honor initiates. Welcome, Kyle!
One of the bright spots among the challenge of dealing with my father’s health issues and death was a phone call last fall telling me I was the recipient of a Delta Gamma Compass Award. It is given to a non-member of Delta Gamma Fraternity who, “through his/her extraordinary leadership and service, has made a lasting and deeply significant contribution to the Fraternity and/or the interfraternal movement.” Past recipients include Kevin O’Neill, Gregory Parks, Tim Burke, Dave Westol, Cindy Stellhorn, Jean Mrasek, Julie Johnson, Dr. Kent Gardner, and this year’s winner Carole Jones, who led the National Panhellenic Conference through its historic restructuring. I received the award on Saturday at the Heritage Luncheon. What a distinct honor and one I shall never forget. Thank you, Delta Gamma!
I’ve been to every state east of the Mississippi, but I’ve never to Washington, D.C. Well, thanks to Pi Beta Phi, that situation has been rectified. I left home on Wednesday at 3:45 a.m. to arrive in D.C. at about noon. My daughter, who is also my roommate, was on a plane that arrived at about the same time. Our goal was to see some of the sights after we checked in to the hotel.
A conversation with a Pi Phi friend who also arrived early was very fortuitous. She had planned ahead and had secured tickets to Hello Dolly at the Kennedy Center. Betty Buckley, an alumna of Zeta Tau Alpha, is the star of the show. How did I not know that it would be in D.C. when we were there? That’s a rhetorical question as I know very well why I didn’t know and that’s because there are a 1000 things going on in my life right now and it’s mighty amazing that I am even here. But the second I realized that it would just take a couple of clicks and a charge card to secure some tickets, we were on it. A night of walking the Mall turned into a pleasant surprise. It’s a wonderful production and well worth seeing. Kudos to Ms. Buckley!
Yesterday I enlisted my daughter to help set up the convention historical display. It’s about Pi Phi’s ties to D.C., specifically Grace Coolidge, Margaret Truman Daniel, and Barbara Bush. It also covers the 1924 Eastern Conference of Pi Beta Phi when the Grace Coolidge portrait was given to the Nation and the 1962 Convention. That convention was the first one “Sis” Mullis attended. She has not missed one since then!
After that we headed out. The Library of Congress was tops on our list. We toured the Shall Not Be Denied exhibit. Carrie Chapman Catt greeted us. She was also on display at the National Portrait Gallery, another stop on our travels.
There, I had to see the portrait of my favorite Phi Gamma Delta Calvin Coolidge painted by Joseph Burgess. Not only was it a gift from the fraternity, but Burgess was an initiate of the Syracuse University chapter.
As I headed to dinner, this wonderful elevator door historical display greeted me. What a wonderful surprise! At some point during the past few months, the copy had been run by me, but I had no clue how it would be used. And it warmed my heart when I saw it. Kudos to the creative staff at @PiBetaPhiHQ!
A reader who is a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma and works in higher education recently asked me a question. Her campus has a Delta Delta Delta chapter. She sees some similarities between the two organizations and she asked me if I knew of any connection between them. They are the only two National Panhellenic Conference organizations to use the same Greek letter three times in their name.
Tri Delta was founded at Boston University on November 27, 1888. Its founders are Sarah Ida Shaw [Martin], Eleanor Dorcas Pond [Mann, M.D.], Florence Stewart and Isabel Breed, who were all New Englanders. Shaw would become regarded as an expert on Greek-letter organizations, but her study of the topic began before she was a member. She thought through the creation of Tri Delta. She had much of its symbolism and ritual in place when the organization was founded.
Sigma Sigma Sigma was founded more than 10 years later on April 20, 1898, at the State Female Normal School in Farmville, Virginia (now Longwood University). The founders are Lucy Wright, Margaret Batten, Elizabeth Watkins, Louise Davis, Martha Trent Featherston, Lelia Scott, Isabella Merrick, and Sallie Michie. All were residents of Virginia.
Tri Delta established 17 chapters before Tri Sigma’s founding. None of them were in southern states. The Trident of Delta Delta Delta began publication in 1891, but its first catalogue of members wasn’t published until after 1900. It’s difficult to ascertain if any Tri Deltas lived in Virginia in the mid-1890s.
However, there is an entry for Tri Delta in the fourth edition of Baird’s Manual of American College Fraternities, which was published in 1890. Perhaps the Tri Sigma founders consulted this resource.
In addition to being a founder and Grand President (1889-93) of Delta Delta Delta, (Sarah) Ida Shaw Martin holds a unique place in the women’s fraternity world. She was an influential voice in the history of several sororities, most notably the early years of Alpha Sigma Alpha. Martin helped found the Association of Education Sororities of which Tri Sigma became a member. She was a consultant to these groups through her Sorority Service Bureau. Her Sorority Handbook, first published in the early 1900s, was the reference guide for sororities. I understand that Martin and Tri Sigma leader extraordinaire Mabel Lee Walton were good friends.
In 1911, Martin corresponded with Tri Sigma’s National President Bess Bennett Brower. She helped persuade Brower that the best course of action was for Tri Sigma to investigate teachers’ colleges and normal schools as potential extension opportunities. When Tri Sigma voted to seek opportunities solely in the educational field, two of its existing chapters became Tri Delta chapters.
The Tri Sigma chapter at Randolph Macon Woman’s College was founded in 1904. Tri Delta’s chapter at RMWC was established a year later in 1905. On May 30, 1911, the Tri Sigmas were initiated as members of the Tri Delta chapter.
Tri Sigma’s chapter at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, founded in 1905, also became a Tri Delta chapter. On September 30, 1911, it became the Theta Epsilon chapter of Delta Delta Delta.
Tri Delta’s Delta Eta Chapter at Coe College was originally a local with the name of Sigma Sigma Sigma. The local was founded in 1902, but had no connection to the national Tri Sigma organization.
The Years Remembered of Sigma Sigma Sigma mentions two examples of the close connection between the organizations. Amy Olgen Parmalee, Tri Delta’s Grand President from 1906-15, spoke at the 1917 Tri Sigma convention and Ernestine Block Grigsby, Tri Delta’s President from 1934-38, spoke at the 1936 Tri Sigma convention.
One hundred years ago, the battle for women’s suffrage was almost won. Victory was so close. Many sorority women were involved in the effort. Historically, there was a strong foundation of feminists creating and joining sororities. Throughout the history of sororities* one can find women who have been trailblazers and pioneers in their fields. Of course, for one who does not wish to believe this no amount of proof will be sufficient.
Sisterhood has really never gone out of style and it has been a cornerstone of National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organizations since the beginning.
I offer ten women whom most anti-sorority people would never believe belonged to a sorority. (*I know all too well that although the organizations are colloquially called sororities, the majority of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference groups are officially women’s fraternities or fraternities for women). These ten women were from a “top of my head” list. There are scores of others who belong on this list.
Carrie Lane Chapman Catt (1859-1947), Pi Beta Phi (Iowa State University). Catt was President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900-04 (and 1915-20, too). She was instrumental in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote.
Carrie C. Lane (Chapman Catt) is first on the Iowa Gamma Chapter roll for the Spring 1880 term.
Mary Ritter Beard (1876-1958), Kappa Alpha Theta (DePauw University). Ritter was a suffragist and a noted historian.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Ph.D., (1879-1958), Kappa Kappa Gamma (Ohio State University). Fisher was an author, educational reformer, and social activist. After World War I, she did post-war relief work in Europe, enlisting her Kappa sisters’ assistance in helping orphaned children.
Alice Duer Miller (1874-1942), Kappa Kappa Gamma, Barnard College (Phi Beta Kappa, too!). Miller was an ardent suffragist. In the years when women were trying to gain the right to vote, she wrote a column, Are Women People? devoted to the cause of equal suffrage. In 1915, she penned:
‘Mother, what is a feminist?’
‘A feminist, my daughter,
Is any woman now who cares
to think about her own affairs
As men don’t think she oughter.’
Ada Comstock Notestein (1876-1973), Delta Gamma, University of Minnesota. Notestein served as Dean of Women at Smith College from 1921-23. Since 1975, Smith College’s Ada Comstock Scholars Program has helped hundreds of non-traditional age women to complete a Bachelor of Arts. In addition, she served as President of the American Association of University Women from 1921-23 and President of Radcliffe College from 1923-43.
E. Jean Nelson Penfield, (1872-1961), Kappa Kappa Gamma (DePauw University). Penfield was one of seven women who chartered the Woman’s Suffrage Party of Greater New York. She also served as Kappa Kappa Gamma’s National President.
Edith and Grace Abbott, both Delta Gammas (University of Nebraska). Grace (1878-1939) was the highest ranking woman in the United States government for over a decade as the head of the U.S. Children’s Bureau from 1921-34. She was the first woman to be nominated for a Presidential cabinet position—Secretary of Labor (unfortunately her nomination was not confirmed). Edith (1876-1957) was the first woman to become dean of an American graduate school, the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw, (1847-1919), Kappa Alpha Theta (Wooster College) An honorary member (alumna initiate), Shaw was a suffragist, physician, first ordained female Methodist minister, and President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Frances Willard, 1839-98, Alpha Phi (Syracuse University). Willard was an honorary member (alumna initiate) and she served as Alpha Phi’s National President. She was a suffragist, social reformer, and an American educator. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the second chapter of Alpha Phi at Northwestern University in 1881.
For further evidence, please see the #WHM posts done for Women’s History Month. Using the search box on the right will bring up more posts about #notablesorority women.
Cole Porter was born on June 9, 1891, in Peru, Indiana. His family was well-to-do thanks to the industriousness of his grandfather, J.O. Cole, who struck gold in California and returned to Indiana to parlay it into a greater fortune.
Porter attended prep school in the east and then matriculated at Yale. There he became a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. He was also a cheerleader, active in the Glee and Mandolin Clubs, and a member of the Whiffenpoofs acapella group, in the years just after its founding.
He wrote more than 300 songs while at Yale. Several dozen songs were written for productions staged by Delta Kappa Epsilon. On November 28, 1911, Cora was performed at the DKE chapter house. Porter provided the music and lyrics to the book written by T. Gaillard Thomas, II. The closing number Mother Phi was a shout-out to the chapter. Delta Kappa Epsilon was founded on June 22, 1844 at Yale and the chapter has the Phi designation.
As part of the Glee Club, Porter performed at venues across the country, entertaining Yale alumni and keeping them connected to their Alma Mater. They started the year of 1912 entertaining in Washington, D.C.
On November 26, 1912, the fraternity house was the locale of another Phi Opera Company production. The Pot of Gold: A Home Play in Two Acts with a book by Almet F. Jenks, Jr. and music and lyrics by Porter debuted. An encore performance took place on December 4, 1912 at New Haven’s Hotel Taft.
Among the musical numbers is I Want to Be Married (to a Delta Kappa Epsilon Man). It includes this refrain:
I want to be married To a Delta Kappa Epsilon man.
I never have varied
From the Delta Kappa Epsilon clan.
I’ve a friend or two in A. D. Phi,
And my mother’s second cousin was a Beta Theta Pi,
But I want to be married
To a Delta Kappa, Delta Kappa, Delta Kappa,
Delta Kappa, Delta Kappa Epsilon man.
Porter’s work is a cornerstone of the Great American Songbook. His music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate won the first Tony Award for Best Musical at the third Tony Awards in 1949.
Porter died on October 15, 1964. His body of work lives on.
Last Friday was a very special day for me. I attended the convention of Ohio State Chapter of P.E.O. My Kappa Kappa Gamma friend, Kylie Smith, presided. We are both history nerds and we have attended the Fraternity and Sorority Archivists meeting. Several years ago, when she told me that she was on the Ohio State Chapter’s Executive Board, I marveled that she would be presiding during P.E.O.’s 150th year.
At some point, she asked if I would consider speaking at the President’s Banquet and I, of course, said yes. As the date grew closer and a formal invitation to speak was sent to me, my life was not my own. I was in the throes of taking care of my father and I had to decline most every opportunity to do much of anything. Kylie said not to worry. She had a Plan B if my life situation prohibited me from being there. She’s flexible that way and I said yes.
And so it was that I ended up at the hotel in Worthington, Ohio. After quickly making my way to my room, I took the stairs down to the first floor and ended up in the middle of nowhere. That was a good thing because as I walked down a hall, I heard my name. Lo and behold, it was Kylie. I had happened upon the room where the Executive Board was meeting prior to convention and they were just finishing up lunch. She suggested we get a picture before things began.
I’ve written about the first President of Ohio State Chapter of P.E.O., Julia Bishop Coleman. She was also a founder of Delta Zeta. Kylie follows in the footsteps of at least one other Kappa. Sue Baker, the current President of International Chapter of P.E.O., is a Kappa and Past President of Ohio State Chapter. The official visitor to Ohio State Convention was Kay Ebert. Her biological sister Gail Owen, an Illinois P.E.O., is currently serving as President of Kappa Kappa Gamma.
I know there were many sorority women among the attendees at the convention. After my talk a number of Pi Phis came up to introduce themselves. And I sat at a table with several of Kylie’s Kappa friends, including one of whom’s mother was a Pi Phi.
It was wonderful seeing Kylie preside with her humor, grace, and loving concern for her Ohio sisters. I enjoyed meeting her mom, aunt, friends, and husband, too. My thanks to Kylie and the Ohio State Chapter board and members for inviting me and making it one of the highlights of my year.
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About Fran Becque, Ph.D.
Welcome! Chances are good you found this blog by searching for something about fraternities or sororities.
The history of Greek-letter organizations (GLOs) – fraternities and sororities – is one of my great passions. I was the last person anyone 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, and wished I could tour them. My 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 plan. I didn’t realize that I would end up pledging.
In this blog I will share the history of GLOs and other topics. I wrote a dissertation on “Coeducation and the History of Women’s Fraternities 1867-1902.″ It chronicles the growth of the system and the birth of the National Panhellenic Conference.
My Master’s thesis details the history of the fraternity system at Southern Illinois University Carbondale from 1948-1960. The dates are significant ones and the thesis is available on the top menu.
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.
Thanks for dropping by! I hope you’ll follow my blog. We who enjoy fraternity and sorority history need to stick together. There’s a facebook page where I include a link when I publish new posts or you can use the subscribe link to be notified of new posts. I put together a Pinterest board about fraternity and sorority history. It is at pinterest.com/glohistory/.