September 2, 2009

The Inside Story

Elle Eichinger (Iota Eta-DePaul)
Quarterly Intern

Alpha Phi founders Clara Bradley Burdette and Martha Foote Crow are my best friends right now. While researching most of the founders usually leads to a dead end—there are absolutely NO photos of Florence Chidester Lukens!—CBB always provides me with something interesting, and MFC, a humorous photo or twenty (see picture).

We are currently working on a Founders’ Day kit to provide chapters with a way to celebrate the uber-important but incredibly vague Alpha Phi holiday (October 10th—mark your calendars!). I’ve raided the archives in the EO for photos of the founders, and in the process found a couple other things worth mentioning.

One was a letter to new members written by Clara Burdette that is posted below on the blog. As the director of new member education for my own chapter (Iota Eta-DePaul), I was excited to scan and copy that to pass out to our recruits this year.

The other thing I found was an essay, also written by Clara Burdette—I’m telling you, I love this girl. It was written in 1938, and is titled “The Characteristics of the Founders.” She discusses the eccentricities of each of the ten women, including herself, whom she says was described as “the molasses jug, which was always surrounded by the flies (the boys).”

But despite its humor, the essay focuses on a clear and meaningful message: women today may laugh at the eccentricities of the founders in photos and stories like these, but we must remember that someday down the road, future members will look at our pictures as silly too. We must remember that despite this, we are all the same girls at heart, with the same desires, and we must “play [our] part well, for memory’s records.”

The final sentence of the essay says: “We Founders were girls just like yourselves, with human qualities, open minds, and desirous of making the most and the best of ourselves, as we then saw the light.”

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Clara.

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

This is Alex Robertson from Theta Iota at James Madison University! As someone who is truly in love with our founders I found this post really interesting and curious to read the letters! Unfortunately I could not find them, is there somewhere specific I should look to find them?
Thank you!