May 8, 2017

Alpha Phi’s Rich History

"We thought it would be a fine idea socially to form a circle of sympathetic friends whom we would know personally. We had as our aim the mutual improvement of each other, ever trying to do our best in college work, always keeping a high ideal before us. Never under any circumstances were we to speak disparagingly of a sister. We were to be ever loyal to one another, in joys or sorrows, success or failure, and ever extend a helping hand to our sisters who needed our aid; truly we planned to be a 'Union hand in hand.' " – Clara Sittser Williams, Founding Sister of Alpha Phi

Alpha Phi was founded Founded at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York on September 18, 1872 by ten collegiate women who would go on immensely impact women all over the world. True feminism and true friendship drove their creation of a women’s secret society where they could stand together with the deep bond of sisterhood. The original ten founding sisters had no knowledge that any other society like theirs existed and their bravery, organization, thoughtfulness, and innovation would go on to inspire generations for what is almost 150 years now.

            In addition to starting the first of many sororities at Syracuse University, in 1886 Alpha Phi became the first women’s fraternity to build and inhabit their own chapter facility. In fact, Alpha Phi is considered a fraternity and not a sorority because it was founded before the word “sorority” even existed.

            Sororities began to emerge though, as more and more girls transitioned to being collegiate women and Alpha Phi aspired to unite them in a common mission. In 1902, it was Alpha Phi who called an inter-sorority meeting that led to the formation of the National Panhellenic Conference that now includes 26 member organizations that promote Alpha Phi’s values of leadership and service.

            Alpha Phi’s scope grew from national to international in 1906 as the Xi chapter was chartered at University of Toronto, proving that Alpha Phi would continue to grow and impact women on a global scale. Today women from all over the world in all walks of life proudly wear their Alpha Phi pins. All Alpha Phi’s are linked by the rich history of the organization, and can take comfort in the notion that Alpha Phi has made such a positive impact for women globally.

            The original ten founding sisters, 22 years old and younger, could likely not fathom the significant impact they would contribute in their lives and beyond. To be an Alpha Phi is to know that you have the capability to change the world for the better by utilizing philanthropy and core values. Each sister is capable of amazing accomplishments. To date, history has only supported the notion that Alpha Phi’s will continue to make the world a better place.

"Now that we have founded the Alpha Chapter of the Alpha Phi Sorority, is this all there is to do? ... No indeed ... We have all the Alphabet to go through, and to go through again and again ... Can we not be a World Society as well as a National One? Yes, there is work enough for all of us and today is no time to be idle." – Martha Emily Foote Crow, Founding Sister of Alpha Phi

Sydney Stelter is a member of the Gamma Phi chapter at Florida State University. To read more about her, click here.

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