DPhiE turns 100!

On March 17, 1917, five women came together at the library of the NYU Washington Square campus to form Delta Phi Epsilon.

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Our sorority published a special Centennial edition of the Triad which is filled with stories, history, and facts. Knowing that DPhiE was founded by five Jewish women at a law school where only around 20 of 250 classmates were women really strikes a chord in me. Pictured above is the cover of the latest magazine edition. In the mirror is DPhiE’s first pledge. She was tasked with dressing up and carrying a suitcase with the word “INITIATION” across it and to take the subway up and down Manhattan to speak about women’s suffrage.

Her initiation was to speak on behalf of women’s rights. What a powerful thing! Our founder’s were trailblazers! DPhiE was founded at such an interesting time in history. Women would eventually gain the right to vote, but the fight is never over. The sorority would spread to Canada but would also face rough times with the Great Depression which caused many sororities to fold or get absorbed. But not DPhiE.

Something about its founding principles ring throughout the ages. Justice. Sisterhood. Love. These three foundations will transcend generations for another 100 years or more.

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So much of DPhiE has changed. When it was founded, the flower was the pansy but we chose the Lovely Purple Iris after becoming members of the NPC because the pansy was Tri-Delta’s flower. We added the scroll and motto to our badge since it would look a lot like Tri-Sigma’s triangle badge. What I love about DPhiE is our ability to change to stand out. I am not sure if other NPC’s admitted in 1952 changed anything when they became members like we did, but I take so much pride in the fact that we did this.

It speaks so much to who we are as Deephers. The ability to change but also remain individuals and stand out. I love our unique history. Above is a picture of our insignia. There use to be a Patroness badge. We  no longer have this because we now have Alumnae Initiation in which a non-NPC women, over the age of 18, can be petitioned to membership from a member. These women who are A.I.’s hold all the rights and privileges of an initiated member. I am a proud Alumnae Initiate and am so grateful that DPhiE has this program since I was never able to join and NPC in college.

DPhiE has the ability to see the good in women and to give them the opportunity to be leaders in their community and colleges. I look forward to another amazing 100 years for this trailblazing sorority!


Early Sororities at Allegheny College

Two “local sororities” from Allegheny College were Iota Rho Epsilon and Skin and Bones. These two were established on campus when three other large sororities were already in existence. Both remained fairly small compared to their National friends on campus.

I found Iota Rho Epsilon which had fun yearbook information–including names in code and veiled faces!



Iota Rho Epsilon is listed under the sororities for the first time in 1898. Others were Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta–which all had numerous chapters. Iota Rho Epsilon seemed to be the only “local” and the only one that used code. Their colors were black and green. Next in the yearbook of 1898 is a women’s secret society called “Skin and Bones”.



Skin and Bones is listed in the 1897 Kaldron with reference to a founder’s name–although made up. They employ the use of code in their underclassmen’s names. The group is not listed in 1896, so it is possible it was founded in 1897. In 1904, Skin and Bones lists their colors as Black and White, which was probably a misprint.


Skin and Bones, 1904.

Early sororities that were established were:
Alpha Chi Omega est. in 1891.
Kappa Kappa Gamma est. in 1888.
Kappa Alpha Theta est. 1881.

In 1904, a local sorority is formed: Theta Sigma and both Skin and Bones and Iota Rho Epsilon are no longer listed starting in the 1907 yearbook.

The current sororities at Allegheny College are:
Alpha Chi Omega
Alpha Delta Pi est. 1983.
Kappa Alpha Theta
Kappa Kappa Gamma
Delta Delta Delta est. 2008.

It seems that Skin and Bones and Iota Rho Epsilon disappeared, but none of their members appear on the roasted of Theta Sigma. My first assumption was that the two weaker sororities merged to form a new local. It also seems that Theta Sigma did not last long. The defunct Theta Upsilon appears in the yearbooks in 1910. Since the letter Theta is used I am going to guess that Theta Sigma was formed for the purpose of petitioning a larger sorority and thus became Theta Upsilon in 1923.

In 1909, Tallagewe was established on campus.There were two active chapters in 1929. The group’s colors were yellow and white.


The badge looks like the head of a spear with a jeweled “Tau”. It seems that this was a group for non-sorority women:


It seems that in 1918, there was an increase need for sororities on campus, so members of Tallagewe withdrew their membership and formed Sigma Tau Sigma. STS would later become Alpha Gamma Delta.

In 1930, Delta Alpha Theta is formed. Colors: Rose, green, and white. Yet the sorority is not mentioned in the archives after 1934.

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Early Brown University Sororities through Pictures

Alpha Beta was one of the first sororities at Brown University being founded in 1893. (This was only two years after the Women’s College was founded in 1891 at Brown.) AB was founded “to promote the mental and moral development of its members and to further social intercourse.”



The crest of AB from the 1907 yearbook.






AB sisters in 1902.

The first President of the sorority was Mary Emma Woolley. Mary would become the 11th College President of Mount Holyoke College and has a building named after her at Brown. The sorority focused on literary means with plays and speeches which was common with early women’s fraternities. The sorority had a ritual and initiation rites which consisted of wearing the badge and communicating only through writing for a set amount of time.

Delta Sigma was the next sorority, established 1896. In 1901, DS would merge with Alpha Delta Sigma at Tufts University. Alpha chapter would be recognized as Tufts and Beta chapter would be Brown University. Gamma chapter would be established at the University of Maine in 1902. In 1907 there were three alumnae chapters: Boston, MA; Providence, RI; and Orono, ME.



DS sisters in 1905.

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Tri-Kappa was established in 1897 and would become Kappa Alpha Theta’s AE chapter.

Theta Lambda Tau was founded in 1901.
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Beta Delta Phi was established in 1903 as a sorority for Catholic women.

Gamma Delta founded in 1903.

Zeta Zeta Zeta was established in 1905.

Sigma Kappa’s Kappa chapter would be established in 1908.

In 1911, the college would rule against Greek life and ban all groups. Alpha Beta would continue on as a literary group from 1916-1963. In 1974, sororities would reappear on campus.

Iota Gamma Upsilon and Lambda Delta Phi

Lambda Delta Phi

Founded in 1961 at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Lambda Delta Phi would become national and establish chapters in Long Beach, California in 1963 and more afterwards.


Sisters from Alpha chapter in 1962.

The sorority started a magazine called The Open Door and their motto is: “Living Democracy through Friendship.”

A chapter at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, gives this short history of the founding of the sorority:


A quick search finds that the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities chapter is active. The alpha chapter is not listed as active.

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The sorority’s crest from Alpha’s 1962 yearbook.


Iota Gamma Upsilon

Founded at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1962, Iota Gamma Upsilon was established when Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Delta Tau, Sigma Kappa, Sigma Sigma Sigma, and local Lambda Delta Phi were already on campus. The women at the college felt there was a need for a 10th sorority and five women came together to form such a society. The sorority is still local and still active.


The founders were:
Cheron Laboissonniere
Virginia Mallison
Susan Morash
Lynne Knubbe
Judy Reiker

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The sorority’s ideals are: Individuality, Genuineness, and Understanding.
Founding: May 29, 1962
Mascot: Lion

Sigma Sigma Omicron and Phi Alpha Chi

Sigma Sigma Omicron was founded at NYU on November 1, 1920. On July 28, 1927, the sorority would change its name to Sigma Phi Beta. It is uncertain what prompted the change. In 1928, Sigma Phi Beta was an associated member of the NPC. On October 1, 1933, Sigma would be absorbed by Phi Omega Pi.

On January 7, 1928, Sigma absorbed Phi Alpha Chi which was founded in 1919 at Berkeley.

In 1928, the sorority had 5 chapters. By 1931, there were 10 chapters. And in 1932, 13 chapters.



Sigma Phi Beta and Sigma Sigma Omicron badges.

The Sigma Sigma Omicron badge is interesting because it has the Greek letters Phi, Alpha, and Chi on six of its points.

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The pledge pin. White to the left, purple to the right.

Publication: The Torch and The  Talaria
Colors: Purple and White
Flowers: Violet and White Rose
Jewels: Amethyst and Pearl

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Sigma Sigma Omicron’s crest.

Chapter Roll:

A     1920-?            NYU
B     1920-?            University of California, Berkeley
Γ      1921-?            Hunter College
Δ     1923-1933      Alabama Polytechnic (Auburn University)
E     1921-?             Montclair State Normal
Z      1921-1926     Newark State Teacher’s College
H      1926-?           Ohio State University
Θ     1923-?            Wittenberg University
I       1924-?           Howard College
K      1925-?          Transylvania University
Λ     1929-1933     University of Illinois
M     1930-1933    UCLA
N     1930-1933    Utah State

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Phi Alpha Chi was founded in November, 1919. The Alpha chapter was established on December 6, 1925 at University of California, Berkeley. In 1928, the sorority had one other chapter that Sigma Phi Beta would absorb. It is possible that the sorority chartered its Beta chapter in 1925, hence why yearbooks say the sorority was founded in 1919, but established in 1925. Sigma Phi Beta would absorb Phi Alpha Chi on January 7, 1928.

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Phi Alpha Chi’s crest.

Brandywine Junior College

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In my search to find more chapters of Sigma Iota Chi, Zeta Mu Epsilon, and Eta Upsilon Gamma–I came across a photo of a dorm that suffered from a fire at Brandywine College. This college opened in 1965 as Brandywine Junior College in Delaware. The above photo is thought to be from 1974–thus giving us a date further along for these sorority’s survival than previously thought.

I was able to find a Facebook page dedicated to the college that gave this history:

“Opened in 1965 as Brandywine Junior College, later Brandywine College, associates degrees in various business majors were offered. The school merged with Widener College, now Widener University, in 1976. The name then became Brandywine College of Widener University for several years. The campus remains open today as Widener’s Delaware Campus, which houses Widener’s School of Law, as well as Widener’s Legal Education Institute. University College students and graduate business students also attend classes at the Delaware Campus. Brandywine College as an separate entity is long gone.”

Delta Zeta at University of California

Delta Zeta’s chapter at the University of California, Berkeley has an interesting history involving the absorption of several Alpha chapters of defunct national sororities. Here is a brief timeline:

In 1900, Enewah Club is organized.
On May 8, 1909 Beta Phi Alpha was founded.
Later on in 1909 the Mekatina Club is started. On January 1, 1914 the Club reorganizes as Theta Upsilon’s Alpha chapter.
On August 15, 1915, the Enewah Club becomes the Mu chapter of Delta Zeta.
On November 1, 1915, the Norrena Club is organized.
In 1917, the Iaqua Club is started.
On Feb. 14, 1919 members of the Easter Star form the Alpha chapter of Phi Omega Pi.
Later in that year, the Tewanah Club is started.
On Dec. 13, 1919, the Iaqua Club becomes Alpha Sigma Delta
On March 5, 1923, Norrena Club becomes Lambda Omega.
On Dec. 6, 1925, Tewanah becomes Phi Alpha Chi.
Jan. 7, 1928, three chapters of Phi Alpha Chi are absorbed by Sigma Phi Beta.
In Sept. 1933, the four chapters of Alpha Sigma Delta are absorbed by Theta Upsilon.
Also in that month, Sigma Phi Beta is absorbed by Phi Omega Pi.
In 1941, Beta Phi Alpha is absorbed by Delta Zeta.
In 1946, Phi Omega Pi is absorbed by Delta Zeta.
On May 6, 1962, Theta Upsilon is also absorbed by Delta Zeta.
In 1969, the Mu chapter of Delta Zeta was closed.


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Theta Upsilon, November 1948 “The Dial”

In June 1948, Theta Upsilon held it’s 10th National Convention. Previous conventions and locations included:

1923: Boston
1926: Cleveland
1928: Chicago
1930: Biloxi, IL
1932: San Francisco
1935: Pocono, PA
1938: Chicago
1941: Ashville, NC
1946: Cleveland
1948: Estes Park, Colorado

Three of the nine founders attended the convention: Grace (Torrey) Cavins, Ella (Rau) Cozens, and Mildred (Rau) Miles. Included in this issue of the sorority’s magazine, The Dial, are letters from the founders. Here I shall highlight some interesting stories and information they shared on the founding of Theta Upsilon–which was founded as the Mekatina Club.

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“On looking back some thirty-four years to the days of Mekatina Club, I find that the event that seems to be the highlight of that period is of a very personal nature and yet one that did affect the future of the Club to some extent. Early in 1914, at a party given at the house on Walnut Street in Berkeley, I met a very personable young man, Harold Cozens by name, whom I married some three years later. Harold lived on the opposite side of the Campus, and it meant a long walk home for him each night after bringing me home from the library. So as the first president of the House, I was influential in seeing that we found a new location on his side of the campus…
It is hard to stop when one starts reminiscing; memories come flooding back. The daily meal is one not to be overlooked. Whatever skill at carving I may have dates back to the days when each succeeding House President had to sit at the head of the family-style table and carve the roast. Woe to her if she didn’t make all the portions equal.”  –ELLA RAU COZENS

In this issue, an article written by Dee Foster Sims, National Chapter Vice-President, entitled “Pledge Training,” has interesting quotes:
“As a pledge, the prospective Theta U member must learn to take it and to come back smiling for more. Why? Not because every pledge is cocky and conceited, but because every pledge must understand thoroughly and believe that the individual is subordinated to the group. She is in a new environment. Nothing in her experience, not excepting the high school or prep school social club, has ever been like this –the college Greek letter fraternity…
To have fame and fortune is one thing, but to help someone over a rough spot, to encourage someone who is dissatisfied, and to make someone smile who is sad is more desired. To do these things for your freshmen, upperclassmen, and alumnae, is to have done much for Theta U.”

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Mildred Rau                                      Lillian Rhein                                Margua Gilbert

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Ella Rau                                       Celine Goethals                             Olive Stevenson*

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Grace Torrey

*Olive (Lee) Stevenson is listed as a founder in some sources and not in others.

Above photos of some of the founders are from the 1916  Blue and Gold yearbook.