Quick – Name the Five GLOs Founded on December 10

Five GLOs were founded on December 10. The theme of the foundings is a common one in the history of Greek-letter organizations, “let’s create a society of our own.”

The University of Virginia was the founding campus of the oldest of the groups founded on December 10. The year was 1869 and five young men, the “Five Friends and Brothers,” met in 46 East Lawn. The organization they founded is Kappa Sigma. Its founders are William Grigsby McCormick, George Miles Arnold, John Covert Bord, Edmund Law Rogers, Jr., and Frank Courtney Nicodemus. The growth of Kappa Sigma is credited to Stephen Alonzo Jackson, an 1872 initiate. A Kappa Sigma national officer, Dr. Charles Richardson, a Fayetteville, Arkansas dentist, greatly influenced the world of women’s Greek-letter organizations when he helped found Chi Omega. With his guidance, Chi Omega was founded on April 5, 1895 at the University of Arkansas by Ina May Boles, Jean Vincenheller, Jobelle Holcombe, and Alice Simonds. He was known as “Sis Doc” to generations of Chi Omegas. The watch fob he was apt to wear had a Kappa Sigma badge on one side and a miniature Chi Omega badge on the other. The fob was not located after his death. 

Dr. Charles Richardson, Kappa Sigma, and a founder of Chi Omega

Dr. Charles Richardson, Kappa Sigma, and a founder of Chi Omega

On December 10, 1899, Delta Sigma Phi was founded at the City College of New York. It was formed because a group of friends tried to join an established fraternity. The friends were Christian and Jewish. They organized a fraternity of their own on December 10, 1899. The chapter was called Insula due to its location in the island of Manhattan. In late 1902, incorporation papers were signed in the name of Delta Sigma Phi. Basketball coach and author Clair F. Bee, while at Waynesburg College (now University) in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, became a member of Delta Sigma Phi. He still holds the the Division I NCAA record for highest winning percentage, winning 82.6% of the games he was head coach. In the 1950s, he started writing the Chip Hilton sports series of young reader books.


Pi Kappa Phi was founded at the College of Charleston in 1904. Its roots can be traced to a short-lived organization, Nu Phi, founded in part to help a group of men who were disillusioned with the role of college’s fraternities in campus politics. The Nu Phis sought to gain control of the Chrestomathic Literary Society. Nu Phi’s name stood for “non-fraternity.” When some of the Nu Phi’s proved disloyal, the men formed Pi Kappa Phi. Its founders are Andrew Kroeg, Simon Fogarty and Harry Mixson. The Ability Experience is Pi Kappa Phi’s own philanthropy. Chapters are encouraged to take part in activities serving and benefiting people with disabilities. These events include the Journey of Hope, a 4,100 mile bike ride across the country. Thomas Wolfe, author of Look Homeward Angel, was among the first alumni to be name to the Pi Kappa Phi Hall of Fame.


Lambda Alpha Upsilon was founded at SUNY Buffalo on December 10, 1985 when 16 founding fathers came together to form an organization to provide support, both social and cultural, to Latino students. The organization’s founders are Antonio Adorno, José Betances, Miguel Buitrago, Manuel Cáceres, José Chiu, Ronald Ellín, Daniel Figueroa III, Victor Gutiérrez, Justo León, Julio Martínez Jr., José Núñez, Antonio Rodríguez, Daryl Salas, Manny Sánchez, José Soto, and Simón Vélez.

On December 10, 1998, a sorority for South Asian women, Sigma Sigma Rho, was founded at St. John’s University in the borough of Queens, New York. Sisterhood, Society, and Remembrance are cornerstones of the organization. The founders are Tejal Kundaiker, Payal (Suchdev) Walsh, Rinku (Suchdeva) Thomas, Priya Sahani Sood,. Vandana Kakwani-Pathak, Sonia (Sharma) Wadhwa, Dr. Nisha (Rana) Diler, Minna John, Dr. Lovleen (Kandhari) Sharma, and Mrs. Eshna (Firoz) Kalam.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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/ or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/378663535503786/

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Florence Lucas Sanville to Celebrate Alpha Omicron Pi #AmazingSororityWomen

Alpha Omicron Pi was founded on January 2, 1897 at the home of Helen St. Clair (Mullan). She and three of her Barnard College friends, Stella George Stern (Perry), Jessie Wallace Hughan, and Elizabeth Heywood Wyman had pledged themselves to the organization on December 23, 1896. That first pledging ceremony took place in a small rarely used upstairs room in the old Columbia College Library.

Alpha Omicron Pi's Founders

Alpha Omicron Pi’s Founders


Celebrating a Founders’ Day on the second day of the new year proved to be a challenge for the organization, so Alpha Omicron Pi now celebrates Founders’ Day on December 8, Stella’s birthday through January 2 and beyond.

Florence Lucas Sanville, Wyman’s classmate at Bloomfield High School in New Jersey, became an early member of the Alpha Chapter. Before enrolling at Barnard in 1899, she attended  the Ethical Culture School of Felix Adler in New York. She took a two-year course in kindergarten teaching. 

One of the first issues of To Dragma noted that she “spent the summer at a philosophical camp in the Adirondacks.” She also served as sponsor for Alpha Omicron Pi’s Omicron Chapter at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville when it as installed on April 14, 1902.


In another issue of To Dragma, there was an announcement that since August, 1903, she had been “studying housing conditions in New York. As the result of a competitive examination, she was appointed one of the Tenement House Inspectors of the New York Tenement House Department.” She served in that capacity for two years.

Sanville relocated to Philadelphia where she served as Secretary of the Consumers’ League of Eastern Pennsylvania. There, along with a colleague, she began a research project, living among and working with the women who toiled in the silk mills of Pennsylvania’s coal mining towns. She used her experiences to write magazine articles which were also published as pamphlets. 


The first page of the article that appeared in Harper’s Monthly Magazine


In 1916 the Bryn Mawr College alumnae of the Classes of 1889-92, helped fund a study of fire prevention in industrial plants employing women in Pennsylvania. The gift to the State Department of Labor and Industry was unusual as it may have been  the first time that college women “contributed a fund to a governmental agency for the purpose of protecting women against fire in industrial plants. The field work in this fire prevention study was performed by Miss Fannie Travis Cochran of the class of 1902, Bryn Mawr, and Miss Florence Lucas Sanville, Barnard College class of 1901. Their work under the direction of Commissioner John Price Jackson of the Department of Labor and Industry and the results of their study which extended through several months is published herewith as prepared by the Bryn Mawr committee.”

Sanville was involved in the suffrage movement and she served on a number of social action committees. According to a bio on the Chester County Historical Society’s website, she “served on the Pennsylvania Child Labor Committee, Women’s Trade Union League of Philadelphia, and Friends’ Social Order and Race Relations.  She was also Chairman of the Committee on Labor for the Conservation and Welfare of Workers, secretary of the Pennsylvania Committee on Penal Affairs, and member of the board of the Prison Society of Pennsylvania.  She served on the board of directors at Mancy Prison for Women.”

As an unmarried woman, she adopted a daughter, in a time and place when that was not a commonplace occurrence. At the age of 91, she published a memoir, The Opening Door. Sanville died in 1971 at the age of 95.

Last night after deciding that Sanville was an intriguing subject for an #amazingsororitywomen hashtag, I discovered that she was recently profiled in a To Dragma article and I encourage you to read it, too. It’s at http://anyflip.com/qzpj/zrck page 22.


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Reflections on the 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Today is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ray Chavez, who at 104, is the oldest survivor of the attack, is the hands down winner on the internet today. This NBC report about him is heartwarming (http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/oldest-known-pearl-harbor-survivor-104-returns-honor-fallen-n692546). What an inspiration he is!

The deadline for the March 1942 Arrow of Pi Beta Phi was in early 1942, and the reports of chapters and alumnae clubs reflected the uncertainty and foreboding of the sacrifices to come. 

The correspondent for the Honolulu Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi wrote shortly after the attack, “It is strange how quickly our usual way of life can be changed. Instead of our customary activities we are all doing some sort of war work for the Red Cross, First Aid Stations, Canteens, or Civilian Defense. The Islands have a daily blackout from six to six and no one is allowed on the streets, consequently one of our many concerns is to blackout enough rooms in our homes so that we can live as normal a life a possible under such conditions . Up to December we hid meetings each month…In all probability there will be no further meetings this year.”

On December 7, 1941, the Pi Beta Phi chapter at Stanford University gave its annual
Christmas party for underprivileged children:

 Fourteen girls between the ages of 6 to 12 arrived at the house before noon. For more than half an hour before lunch they joined with the members of the chapter playing games of ‘Drop the Handkerchief,’ ‘London Bridge is Falling Down,’ and many others. After lunch twenty·nine Pi Phis marched with their small charges down Fraternity Row to the Sigma Chi house where Santa Claus and fourteen small boys were waiting. Presents were then distributed and the whole group went to the show. The party was a great success from the viewpoint of both the children and the hostesses.

This affair was the last one of its kind, for it was during the party that the Pearl Harbor attack was announced. Immediately all the efforts of California Alpha were directed toward meeting the emergency The necessity for all Stanford students to remain calm and level·headed was stressed by President Wilbur in an all-student assembly. To meet the crisis all living groups have been reorganized to maintain maximum efficiency. An air warden, a deputy, and three supervisors–one for each floor of the house-were appointed to see that the house is completely blacked-out in case of an air raid. Most all social activities have been curtailed.

The administration of the school has added many new courses to its curriculum.. A secretarial course is given to prepare girls for any future emergency, and a national defense course is give to the boys in business school. Many of the members of the chapter are enrolled in a special first aid course. Others are knitting for the Red Cross. In addition to the academic life, Stanford students are all taking a part in the Civilian Defense Program.

Herman B. Wells, Sigma Nu, the president of Indiana University, addressed the IU student body at a
convocation. According to The Arrow correspondent, he spoke about the role of the college student in the war crisis. He “stressed the point that the nation is especially in need of people with college training to adequately carry out the war program. Therefore each student should strive to do the best work of which he is capable.”

At the University of Oklahoma, it was reported that “Virginia Berry got everyone in the spirit by being the first on the campus to start knitting a Red Cross sweater.” Chapter President Josephine Boddy became a member of the new defense committee. “Every member of the chapter has signed up for some kind of Red Cross work with the majority choosing
motor corps.” The chapter voted unanimously to cancel the chapter’s largest social event of the spring semester, the Valentine Dinner. The funds were donated to the Red Cross. 
The chapter at the University of Texas did the same and cancelled the spring formal. The funds that would have gone to that event were given to several organizations. The Southern Methodist University Pi Phi chapter followed suit. Moreover, the plans for building women’s fraternities lodges was put on hold. The funds that had been set aside for the lodge were used to purchase Defense Bonds.

photo 4 (3)

And so it was in late 1941 and early 1942 that the men and women on college campuses realized that their lives at college would be different than they might have planned. I’ve written about a few of these http://wp.me/p20I1i-1HE.


BY CHRIS L. DEMAREST (see  hhtp://chrisdemarest.net/)


There’s also a post about Nile Kinnick, the University of Iowa Heisman Trophy winner. http://wp.me/p20I1i-1Og. Past December 7 posts are at http://wp.me/s20I1i-9378, http://wp.me/p20I1i-1gf


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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“You Rang?” on Alpha Sigma Phi’s Founders’ Day

Alpha Sigma Phi was founded on December 6, 1845, at Yale University (it was then known as Yale College). The Yale of 1845 was worlds away from the Yale of today. In 1845, only a very small percentage of American young men (and a minuscule amount of young women) were enrolled in any form of higher education. Alpha Sigma Phi’s founders are Louis Manigault, Horace Spangler Weiser and Stephen Ormsby Rhea.

I’ve written about Vincent Price and his affiliation with Alpha Sigma Phi (see http://wp.me/p20I1i-2rd). Ted Cassidy, who had an iconic role as Lurch and Thing in The Addams Family television show, was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi chapter at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Ted Cassidy

Ted Cassidy


On December 6, 1998, Delta Phi Omega was founded at the University of Houston. Its sixteen founders, “recognized the need for an organization to promote the advancement of South Asian women. Sixteen women from various backgrounds came together with the common goal of uniting women among the South Asian community.” Its founders are Simran Bakshi-Guiterrez, Heena Bhakta-Palmer, Leena Cherian-Joseph, Bonna Choudhari, Rita Dhanani-Rauniyar, Anita Jari-Kharbanda, Amitha Nikam-Verma, Avni Patel, Jesika Patel, Jolly Patel, Shevon Patel, Sonal Amit Patel, Arati Shah, Deepa Swamy-Kurian, Manisha Vakharia, and Sarika Wadhawan.

Delta Phi Omega has chartered 46 chapters at 52 schools. In November 2016, two colonies were chartered. The colonies are at the College of William and Mary and Binghamton University.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Happy 110th Birthday, Alpha Phi Alpha!

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated was founded at Cornell University on December 4, 1906. It is the oldest of the Black Greek-letter organizations (BGLOs) which form the National PanHellenic Council (NPHC). The seven founders, the “Jewels” of Alpha Phi Alpha, are Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy.

In 1909, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois became an Honorary Member of the University of Michigan chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. During that same year, he was one of the founders of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Dr. Du Bois with the Howard University chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha

Dr. Du Bois with the Howard University chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.


Born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was raised in the western New England town. From 1885-88, he studied at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. His tuition was paid by the members of his church, the First Congregation Church of Great Barrington. In addition to a diploma from Fisk, he was quickly schooled in the blatant racism of the American south. He then studied at Harvard College where he earned a second undergraduate degree. A fellowship offered him the opportunity to study at the University of Berlin before he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895.

Dr. DuBois was an academic, a writer, and a civil rights activist. He died on August 27, 1963, in Ghana, at the age of 95.

In February 2017, Segun Ojewuyi, a friend and fellow Rotarian who is in the Department of Theater at Southern Illinois University, will direct a production of “A Nightingale for Dr. Du Bois.The production, written by Femi Osofisan, featuresMusic, dance and poetry celebrate the life of civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois in the two weeks before his death.”


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Thank You Heroes! And Your Chance to be a Hero

Imagine being sent home early from school on Monday. Then imagine leaving home to find shelter from the fires engulfing your town. And then imagine yourself waking on Tuesday to find that you no longer have a home because it was consumed by fire. You own nothing but what  you took with  you as you hastily left for shelter.

More than 100 students and staff at the Pi Beta Phi Elementary School in Gatlinburg are living that reality. It’s 22 days before Christmas and this will be a different Christmas for them than any of the ones celebrated previously. If you can, please forgo giving one or two gifts and instead send a donation to the Pi Beta Phi PTA Student/Staff Fund, P.O. Box 4717, Sevierville, TN 37864.

Although the school is named for Pi Beta Phi, it is in no way connected to the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, save for the donation of the land upon which the school sits. The property was where the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School opened in Gatlinburg in 1912. Pi Beta Phi deeded the land to the school system and the original name has been maintained to honor the school’s history.

Dolly Parton grew up in Sevier County, the county in which Gatlinburg is located, and is one of its greatest champions. She and her Dollywood Foundation have set up “My People Fund.” In a video message she said, “We want to provide a hand up to all those families that have lost everything in the fires.” The Dollywood Foundation will provide $1,000 a month to the families who have lost their homes in the fires. “I know it has been a trying time for my people, and this assistance will help.”


Thanks go to all of those who put their lives on the line to save people and property. I would bet the farm that the Sigma Chi in this picture was not to only fraternity man involved in the efforts.  And notice that the men are napping on concrete, not the  most comfortable of bedding. I, for one, and I know I am not alone in this, am grateful for your efforts and service.


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Gatlinburg on My Mind

Everything I know about Gatlinburg I learned because of Pi Beta Phi. Having the opportunity to visit Arrowmont while serving as a Pi Phi volunteer made the story of the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School come alive to me on my visits. My heart breaks for all those affected by the quick moving and deadly wildfires of Monday night.

Things can be replaced; people can’t be. A life lost is the ultimate sorrow, and I don’t want to negate that by mourning the loss of dormitory space and a maintenance shed at Arrowmont.  Hughes Hall was dedicated during the 1995 Pi Phi Arts Weekend. While in the planning stages, it was called Heritage Hall. When University of Louisville Pi Phi Margaret Elkin Hughes left her estate to Arrowmont, a new name emerged. Two wings of Hughes Hall were named for past Pi Beta Phi Grand Presidents – Marianne Reid Wild, who left Arrowmont part of her estate, and Jean Wirths Scott. Jean, in addition to serving as NPC Chairman, spearheaded the successful Campaign for Arrowmont in partnership with Pi Beta Phi Foundation, to fund Hughes Hall, a new woodturning studio among other things.

This photo from the groundbreaking for Hughes Hall was in a stack of photos that I am using in a project Im working on.

This photo from the groundbreaking for Hughes Hall was on my dining room table in a stack of photos I am using in a current project. C.A. Edwards, Jo Ann Roderick and Sandy Blain took part in the ceremony during Officer’s Workshop 1994.

A photo taken by my daughter when we stayed at Hughes Hall a few years ago.

A photo taken by my daughter when we stayed at Hughes Hall a few years ago.


Bill May, whose pictures from early Tuesday mornings were posted on Facebook and assured us that the reports about Arrowmont being destroyed were false, did a phone interview with the Weather Channel. Despite the repetitive roll of pictures, it was good to hear him talk about the school (https://www.facebook.com/arrowmontschool/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf). I’m also glad to know that his house was left untouched and that he can lead Arrowmont through its travails without dealing with his own.


Hughes Hall after the fire with the Wild Wing in the foreground (at least this is how I see it.)

Hughes Hall after the fire with the Wild Wing in the foreground (at least this is how I see it.) Photo by Bill May.


Although Arrowmont is only a few feet off the Parkway in Gatlinburg, it is almost like being transported to another time and place. I know Arrowmont will survive the loss of Hughes Hall. Arrowmont is a very special place. I encourage any artist or budding artist to take a class, send a donation, or buy a t-shirt (www.arrowmont.org). I sent a donation on Tuesdav (http://www.arrowmont.org/support/rebuild-fund/).

To read more about the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School and Arrowmont, see http://www.lib.utk.edu/arrowmont/index.html. The grant project digitized items from the Arrowmont and Pi Beta Phi archives to tell the story of the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School and the establishment of Arrowmont. Marie Maddox’s book A Lifetime in Gatlinburg: Martha Cole Whaley Remembers (https://www.amazon.com/Lifetime-Gatlinburg-Martha-Whaley-Remembers/dp/1626196842) offers a glimpse of the changes which took place in Gatlinburg when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established.



As for donations to help the citizens of Gatlinburg, on Giving Tuesday, I made a small donation to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. I am waiting for directions from my friends on the ground as to where donations will be best. However, I will mention that as I clicked on this link, and heard the words of the song, I burst into tears. Be forewarned (http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2016/11/29/help-gatlinburg-fire-victims-middle-tennessee-community-foundation-starts-relief-fund/94599686/).

I have no doubt the citizens of Sevier County will get to work and make life normal again. They come from hardy stock and they will rise above the devastation and heartbreak. I, for one, will be praying for them, and doing what I can from afar.

Pi Beta Phi Elementary School is adjacent to Arrowmont. It, too, was thought to be destroyed at first reports, but it is in tact, although it make have sistained some minor damage on the back side from some reports (blown out windows).

Pi Beta Phi Elementary School is adjacent to Arrowmont. It, too, was thought to be destroyed at first reports, but it is intact, although it make have sustained minor damage on the back side from some reports (blown out windows).


© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Thoughts on Gatlinburg and the Fires

Words escape me this morning. The fires in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains National Park are heavy in my heart. A recent post here highlighted Gatlinburg. Libbie, the Ring Ching Roadshow car, and her driver Daphney made a stop in Gatlinburg. They visited Arrowmont, the wonderful arts and crafts school which had its beginnings as the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School, and they made an appearance at Pi Beta Phi Elementary School, the school named in honor of the fraternity’s early efforts at educating the local children.

A view of Gatlinburg as it looked to May Lansfield Keller in the early 1910s.

A view of Gatlinburg as it looked to May Lansfield Keller in the early 1910s.

Two Facebook friends have been keeping me posted about the situation at Arrowmont and Pi Beta Phi Elementary. According to Bill May, Executive Director (Extraordinaire, in my book!), all the buildings with the exception of Hughes Hall and the Wild Wing, named for Pi Beta Phi’s former Grand President, Marianne Reid Wild, survived the fires. I, along with other Pi Phi officers who were at Officers’ Workshop that year, were at the groundbreaking of Hughes Hall. I had many conversations with old friends on the porch. On the second floor, the only quilt square I ever completed, on behalf of the Southern Illinois Alumnae Club, was displayed on a quilt made by Pi Phi alumnae clubs and chapters.


Another Pi Phi friend who has connections on the ground, has stated that Pi Beta Phi Elementary is safe, despite media reports to the contrary. She said, “the building still stands with only cosmetic damage to the very back due to the heat from the fire.” She knows and I believe her.  I remember the first night I met her during a reception in the library of Pi Beta Phi Elementary School when she was not yet a Pi Phi. Although it seems quaint to say, I am grateful to say that we share the wine and silver blue, and that she is a dear Pi Phi sister brings tears to my eyes right now.

Photo of Pi Beta Phi Elementary added noon CST 11/29/2016, taken earlier this morning by someone on the scene in Gatlinburg.

Photo of Pi Beta Phi Elementary added noon CST 11/29/2016, taken earlier this morning by someone on the scene in Gatlinburg.

I am grateful to the firefighters who worked ceaselessly to keep the buildings and people safe. Knowing the spirit of the people in Gatlinburg, they will take stock of the situation, make plans, get to work, and make life normal again. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

And on this Giving Tuesday, I ask that you visit http://www.arrowmont.org/ and make a donation. Or send a check to Arrowmont, 556 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. 

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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Giving Tuesday, Gilmore Girls, and the DAR

Last Tuesday at Rotary, I presented a program about the projects the club has done over the years to inform some of the newer members who might not know. It was also my turn to do a “Getting to know ourselves” question and answer.

I had a quick answer to “What would you do if you had unlimited funds” That was an easy one. I’d start a foundation and fund causes I believe in. Unlimited funds are not in my future, but I can still fund causes I believe in. Giving Tuesday is tomorrow. Instead of large amounts with lots of zeros, my contributions will be small but heartfelt.

The contribtuibs

The contributions my Alpha Gamma Delta friend Nann is sending to arrive on Giving Tuesday or thereabouts.


The Circle of Sisterhood (www.circleofsisterhood.org)will be one of the first donations I make. The Circle of Sisterhood’s mission is to “leverage the collective influence of sorority women to raise financial resources for entities around the world that are removing educational barriers for girls and women facing poverty and oppression.”


On Friday, I binge watched the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. It was like visiting an old friend, and starting where we last left off. There was a big void with the death of the Gilmore patriarch, Richard Gilmore. He was so aptly played by  Edward Herrmann, a Phi Kappa Psi, who died on December 31, 2014 (see http://wp.me/s20I1i-2015).

Edward Herrmann (Photo courtesy of Bucknell University)

Edward Herrmann (Photo courtesy of Bucknell University)

I adore Kelly Bishop who plays Emily Gilmore, the matriarch. She originated the role of Sheila in A Chorus Line, a show I saw first on Broadway in the late 1970s. She won a Tony for that role. She was also “Baby” Houseman’s mother in Dirty Dancing.

One of her scenes reminded me of another question I answered at the Rotary meeting. “Tell us something no one knows about you.” I mentioned that I was the daughter of an immigrant and for all intents and purposes, I am a first generation American. I will never be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Emily Gilmore’s DAR membership plays prominently in one of the seasonal episodes. The scene is a funny one, but just as I cringe when a fraternity “ritual” is enacted on the big and small screen, this was an inaccurate portrayal of the DAR. 

In the scene, a trophy wife, the third or fourth of a Connecticut tycoon, is being grilled by a tribunal of matrons in Chanel suits. The applicant is questioned on a number of topics, regarding her qualifications for membership in Emily Gilmore’s chapter of the DAR. None of the questions had anything to do with the way women can become members of the DAR. Any woman “18 years or older-regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background-who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership” in the DAR, according to the website. A husband’s lineage had nothing to do with his wife’s eligibility for membership. Membership is dependent on the ancestor and connection to the Revolutionary War. 

The president of the DAR chapter here in town is an acquaintance of mine. The last time I ran into her at the grocery store, she had on her muck boots because she runs an organic farm and had just come from working in the gardens. I checked the Illinois chapter website and there are DAR chapters throughout the state in large and very small towns. Just as cinematic portrayals of fraternity life are far from true, so goes this depiction of the DAR. As much as I enjoyed the scene as it related to Emily Gilmore’s behavior, I couldn’t help but be disappointed at the way the DAR was portrayed. 

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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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A Day in Common for Phi Sigma Sigma, Kappa Alpha Society, and Sigma Alpha Mu

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

Phi Sigma Sigma founders

Phi Sigma Sigma became international in 1930 with the founding of its Upsilon chapter at the University of Manitoba. The University’s second female architecture graduate was a Phi Sigma Sigma, Evelyn Blankstein; she was born on March 5, 1913. Her father was an architect and that may have influenced her choice of major at the University of Manitoba. In addition to being a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, she was a talented athlete in the 1930s when athletic opportunities for women were limited. She was even named Woman Athlete of the Year while at the University. 

Blankstein was the only female to graduate in architecture that year and she was the first Jewish woman in Manitoba to earn a bachelor’s of architecture. She served her chapter officially as social chairman and generally as a good spirit and chapter cheerleader.


Blankstein spent her career as an architect, “when there were few if any women in a profession that was considered a male preserve — for close to 40 years, first in her brother Cecil’s office and then for Hobbs Glass (later Canadian Pittsburgh Industries) where she designed and facilitated the use of architectural glass for stores, movie theatres, offices and factories designed in the architectural offices of Winnipeg,” according to her obituary.

She was one of the first women golfers with a full membership at the Glendale Golf Club; it allowed her to golf with the men. She was a competitive Duplicate Bridge player, earning Life Master status. The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba administers an Evelyn Blankstein Athletic Assistance Fund for area young people.


Kappa Alpha Society is the oldest of the Union Triad, the three fraternities founded at Union College in Schenectady, NY.  It was established in 1825 by nine men, John Hart Hunter, Thomas Hun, Isaac W. Jackson, John McGeoch, Orlando Meads, James Proudfit, Joseph Anthony Constant, Arthur Burtis, Jr., and Joseph Law. Its second chapter was founded at Williams College in 1833. A total of 13 chapters have been chartered; nine of those chapters are currently operating. Four of those nine chapters are in Canada. Two are the dormant chapters are also located in Canada. My rudimentary math skills detect what is likely the largest percentage of Canadian chapters among men’s fraternities.


Sigma Alpha Mu was founded on  November 26, 1909 at the City College of New York. Its eight founders first met at a meeting of the sophomore class. Its founders are Lester Cohen, Hyman Jacobson, Adolph I. Fabis, Samuel Ginsburg, Abram N. Kerner, Jacob Kaplan, Ira N. Lind, David D. Levinson. 

Sigma Alpha Mu founders

Two years later, a second chapter was established at Cornell University, quickly followed by chapters at Long Island University and Columbia University. The SAM chapter at Syracuse University was founded in 1913. It was SAM’s seventh chapter.

Syracuse football great, Ernie Davis, was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu chapter at Syracuse. In addition to being the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, and the first African-American to be picked first overall in the NFL draft, he was the first African-American to become a member of Sigma Alpha Mu. Sadly, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962 and died in May 1963 at the age of 23. He never played in a professional football game. 

The Ernie Davis statue at Syracuse University.

The Ernie Davis statue at Syracuse University.

© Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2016. 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.

Posted in Kappa Alpha Order, Phi Sigma Sigma, Sigma Alpha Mu, Syracuse University, Union College | Tagged , | Leave a comment