Little Bits of History

It’s All Greek

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 27, 2012

Kappa Alpha Theta

January 27, 1870: Bettie Locke (Hamilton), Alice Allen (Brant), Bettie Tipton (Lindsay), and Hannah Fitch (Shaw) hold an initiation ceremony. The four women began Kappa Alpha Theta at Indiana Asbury University. The name changed to DePauw University in 1884. The school was founded in 1837 after Methodist Bishop, Francis Asbury, proposed the idea and helped to raise funds. The original class held five students with one professor. During the Civil War, many men left higher learning to engage in defending ideals. In 1867, the university began to accept women scholars.

The four founders sought to form friendships and encourage other women to join emerging coeducational colleges. They based their new organization on similar groups. Bettie Locke had experience with Beta Theta Pi, her father’s fraternity, and Phi Gamma Delta, her brother’s fraternity. Bettie’s father suggested she start her own Greek society. Bettie and Alice worked together to write a constitution, planned ceremonies, designed a badge, and sought out other like-minded women on campus. It took them three years of planning, but they finally held initiation ceremony and became the first Greek-letter society for women.

Fraternities and sororities, from the Greek words for brother and sister, are social organizations for North American undergraduate students. Although found in Europe, these are usually called “corporations” on The Continent. These groups can be social fraternities, honor societies, or service based. These groups are named with two or three Greek letters, after the initials of a Greek motto. The groups are usually gender specific with young men joining fraternities and young women in sororities. Although Kappa Alpha Theta is for young women only, they refer to themselves as a fraternity.

Kappa Alpha Theta is usually shortened to Theta. The badge designed by the founders was worn to chapel on March 14, 1870. The society’s colors are Black and Gold (the colors of the badge). Their symbols are a Kite and Twin Stars. Theta at Asbury soon grew to 22 members and by year’s end had spread to ten other campuses in Indiana and surrounding states. Today there are 128 college chapters with more than 210,000 collegiate lifetime members. The Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation was founded in 1960. They offer scholarships to members and support educational programs. They participate in Court Appointed Special Advocates, a program to help abused and neglected children.

What fraternities and sororities are about is to be there to give people that helping hand, especially the youth. – Alexandreena Dixon

Women are a sisterhood. They make common cause in behalf of the sex; and, indeed, this is natural enough, when we consider the vast power that the law gives us over them. – William Cobbett

“I think it’s very critical for the Greeks to establish an identity of what they are really like and that the social is one aspect. It is much more than that. (It’s) the brotherhood, the sisterhood, the leadership development (and) the community service. – Don Robertson

All Greek houses face the stereotypes of being the partying type. But this isn’t what we are about; we are about sisterhood and positive relationships. – Cara Snyder

Also on this day:

Globetrotters – In 1927, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game.
Guy Fawkes’s Trial – In 1606, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were brought to trial.
Apollo I Fire – In 1967, during a test flight the capsule of Apollo 1 burns, killing three.