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Southwestern’s First Sorority: 110 Years of Alpha Delta Pi


Southwestern’s First Sorority: 110 Years of Alpha Delta Pi


The Alpha Delta Pi sisterhood was initially established on May 15, 1851, at Wesleyan Female College in Macon, Georgia, and proudly holds the distinction of being the first secret society in the world for college women. Wesleyan was also the first college in the world chartered with the specific purpose of granting degrees to women.

Originally called the Adelphean Society, derived from the Greek work for “sisterhood,” the sorority eventually decided on the name it still bears today: Alpha Delta Pi.

Eugenia Tucker Fitzgerald was the original founder at Wesleyan, as well as being elected the first sorority president. After establishing the organization, she recorded her desire that the sisterhood, “shall have for its object the mental, moral, social and domestic improvement of its’ members.”

The sisterhood didn’t emerge at Southwestern until five decades later, on Thanksgiving of 1899, when three women, with the help of the Brothers of the Kappa Sigma Iota Chapter, founded Southwestern’s first sorority under the name Beta Sigma. The three primary founders were named Alice Harrell, Tillie Price, and Johnnie Wright, but they had a total of eleven charter members. It was not until February 7 of 1907 that Beta Sigma was adopted officially as the Zeta Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi. Southwestern continues to house a collection of letters to and from an early member of the sisterhood during both its time as Beta Sigma, and after it transitioned to Alpha Delta Pi.

The Zeta Chapter remembers and honors early sisters’ vital involvement in Alpha Delta Pi on a national level. In Lynchburg, Virginia, Abigail Davis of the Zeta Chapter organized the Nu Chapter at Randolph-Macon Women’s College. At Southern Methodist University, Ida Donovan assisted in the founding of Alpha Delta Pi, and Paula Garrison, another Southwestern graduate, served as inspector for two terms. Here in Texas, in 1965, a scholarship was started in the name of Flora Red Cody, another alumna of the Zeta Chapter and long-time State Membership Chairman for Texas.

In 1989, Zeta Chapter was awarded the Golden Lion and named to the Golden Lion Hall of Fame. The Golden Lion is the highest honor a chapter can achieve, and is awarded only every other year, to chapters who have proved themselves for many years in all areas of sorority life.

In 2001, Alpha Delta Pi celebrated its 150th Anniversary. In honor of this momentous event, Zeta chapter donated a tree, a plaque, and a stained-glass piece, which can be seen outside the Sharon Lord Caskey Center, where the sorority Chapter Rooms are located.

Today, there are over 215,000 total initiated members of the sisterhood worldwide. Although Zeta remains one of the smallest in the nation, it continues to be an exemplary chapter, and has hosted the Alpha Delta Pi National Convention on two separate occasions. This year, on February 7, the Zeta Chapter celebrates 110 years of excellence, as well as continuing to hold the title of second longest consecutively open chapter of Alpha Delta Pi. Despite the growth and change throughout the sisterhood’s history, the core ideals remain the same: scholarship, high principles of behavior, and true friendship.