Alpha Chi Omega

DIGITAL HISTORY

Tag : Founders

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Bertha Cunningham with Books Photograph, December 9, 1934

Bertha Cunningham with Books Photograph, December 9, 1934

Founder Bertha Deniston Cunningham (Alpha, DePauw University) poses in her living room with 16 war books and five Alpha Chi Omega scrapbooks.

Alpha Chapter Photograph, c. 1889

Alpha Chapter Photograph, c. 1889

Alpha (DePauw University) chapter members pose together for a formal portrait. Four of the women are identified: Lillian Moore Cottingham (Alpha, DePauw University, upper right corner), Anna Allen Smith (Alpha, DePauw University, second row, left), Daisy Steele Wilson (Alpha, DePauw University, lower left corner) and Mary Janet Wilson (Alpha, DePauw University, lower right corner).

Amy DuBois Rieth Portrait Cabinet Card

Amy DuBois Rieth Portrait Cabinet Card

Amy Dubois Rieth (Alpha, DePauw University) was only 15 when she entered DePauw. She studied both voice and pianoforte. She was known as “the little girl with the big voice,” and was selected to sing important roles in school productions. Amy had a quiet and straightforward manner, which belied her fondness for pulling pranks on her Fraternity sisters. Her influence on the Fraternity endured long after she left to teach music in Kansas.

Anna Allen Smith Portrait Cabinet Card

Anna Allen Smith Portrait Cabinet Card

Anna Allen Smith (Alpha, DePauw University) lived her entire life in Greencastle, Indiana, and was childhood friends with Bessie Grooms Keenan (Alpha, DePauw University and Olive (Ollie) Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University). She was always interested in music and was the youngest student to do advanced work at DePauw's School of Music. She was just 15 years old when Alpha Chi Omega was founded. Anna was the Founder most associated with Alpha chapter and until her untimely death in 1932, she knew every initiated Alpha (all 700 of them).

Bertha Deniston Cunningham Portrait Cabinet Card

Bertha Deniston Cunningham Portrait Cabinet Card

When Bertha Deniston Cunningham's (Alpha, DePauw University) parents decided their musically advanced daughter should continue her studies at DePauw, she had to play for Dean Howe to determine just how advanced she was. She went on to become the envy of the school’s music students because of her composing skills. She also was an accomplished performer and successful teacher in the School of Music for 10 years. Hers is the only one of five original badges that exists today.

Nellie Gamble Childe Portrait Cabinet Card, c. 1886

Nellie Gamble Childe Portrait Cabinet Card, c. 1886

Nellie Gamble Childe (Alpha, DePauw University) studied piano from an early age and, after much deliberation, chose DePauw. She was described variously by her sisters as being gentle, energetic, earnest and friendly, leading a life of “quiet influence for good.” Later in life, she cultivated roses and loved to garden. She said that Alpha Chi Omega had a small beginning, but was built by loyal women with high standards who have achieved “marvelous results.”

Olive Burnett Clark Portrait Cabinet Card

Olive Burnett Clark Portrait Cabinet Card

Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) grew up in Greencastle, Indiana before eventually moving to Indianapolis, Indiana. She set the example for grace, civility and dignity that defined the Fraternity.

Leonard, Childe, Clark and Orndorff at Convention Photograph, June 26, 1935

Leonard, Childe, Clark and Orndorff at Convention Photograph, June 26, 1935

Founders (left to right) Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University), Nellie Gamble Childe (Alpha, DePauw University) and Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) pose with Ruth Orndorff Darragh (Gamma, Northwestern University) at DePauw University on Homecoming Day of the 1935 National Convention.

McLachlan, Leonard and Clark with Felt-ogram Scenes at Convention Photograph, 1951

McLachlan, Leonard and Clark with Felt-ogram Scenes at Convention Photograph, 1951

Lois Henderson McLachlan (Beta Zeta, Whitman College, center) poses with founders Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University, left) and Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) in front of felt-ogram scenes of the founding that she made for the final banquet of the 1951 National Convention in Roanoke, Virginia.

Bessie Grooms Keenan Portrait Reproduction Photograph

Bessie Grooms Keenan Portrait Reproduction Photograph

Bessie Grooms Keenan (Alpha, DePauw University) began studying music as a young child and was an accomplished pianist by the time she entered DePauw. Near the end of her first year there, she strained the muscles of her left hand from over-practice and had to give up the ambition of her life. However, she gave much of her time to help build Alpha Chi Omega. Her daughter, Hannah Keenan, eventually became director of Alpha Chi’s central office, today known as headquarters.

Estelle Leonard Portrait Photograph, c. 1886

Estelle Leonard Portrait Photograph, c. 1886

Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University) entered university hoping to make a living as a musician. Most of her time was spent practicing or studying. She also served as Dean Howe’s secretary for two years. Though she had serious goals and a “dignified appearance,” she was known for playing practical jokes on her colleagues. She graduated in 1891 and had a full career, teaching music, publishing piano compositions and reporting for the local newspaper. Long involved with Alpha Chi Omega, she attended more conventions than any other Founder. She was described in our 1948 History as “distinctly modern in her ideas” and as having “developed independence, decision, and a rather bohemian attitude.”

Hannah Keenan Receiving Good Neighbor Award, c. 1938

Hannah Keenan Receiving Good Neighbor Award, c. 1938

Fraternity Executive Director Hannah Keenan (Alpha, DePauw University, center) receives the Good Neighbor Award from Chuckles Chapman and Founder Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) at the Alpha Chi (Butler University) chapter house.

Ryan, Burnett and Deniston Cabinet Card, April 1886

Ryan, Burnett and Deniston Cabinet Card, April 1886

Anna Ryan (Wells) (Alpha, DePauw University, left) poses with Alpha Chi Omega Founders Olive Burnett (Clark) (Alpha, DePauw University, center) and Bertha Deniston (Cunningham) (Alpha, DePauw University, right).

Estelle Leonard and Bertha Cunningham at Convention Photograph, c. June 1937

Estelle Leonard and Bertha Cunningham at Convention Photograph, c. June 1937

Founders Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University) and Bertha Deniston Cunningham (Alpha, DePauw University) pose together at the 1937 National Convention in Glacier National Park.

Clark, Leonard and Two Alpha Chi Chapter Members Photograph, 1951

Clark, Leonard and Two Alpha Chi Chapter Members Photograph, 1951

Founders Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University, seated left) and Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University, seated right) play piano while Patricia Lyons Pointer (standing left) and Beverly Brantner Price, both pledges of the Alpha Chi (Butler University) chapter, sing from a book of Alpha Chi Omega songs. The event was the Beta Beta (Indianapolis, Indiana) alumnae chapter's Founders' Day celebration. The photo was taken by George Tilford for the "Indianapolis News."

Olive Clark Telling Founding Story at Convention Photograph, June 1953

Olive Clark Telling Founding Story at Convention Photograph, June 1953

Founder Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) poses by a chair as she tells the story of the founding of Alpha Chi Omega at the 1953 National Convention in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Olive Clark and Jean Sorenson at Convention Photograph, July 1953

Olive Clark and Jean Sorenson at Convention Photograph, July 1953

Founder Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) poses with Jean Sorenson Daiker (Alpha Rho, University of Idaho), who served as a page at the 1953 National Convention in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Founders with 50th Birthday Cake at Convention Photograph, June 1935

Founders with 50th Birthday Cake at Convention Photograph, June 1935

Founders (left to right) Bertha Deniston Cunningham (Alpha, DePauw University), Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University), Nellie Gamble Childe (Alpha, DePauw University) and Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) pose with a birthday cake to celebrate Alpha Chi Omega's 50th birthday at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. during the 1935 National Convention. Behind them are National Editor Ted Maltbie Collins (Rho, University of Washington) and National President Ethel Meade Van Auken (Lambda, Syracuse University).

Olive Clark as a Child Photograph, c. 1870

Olive Clark as a Child Photograph, c. 1870

Olive Burnett Clark (Alpha, DePauw University) called “Ollie” by her friends, studied piano, violin, cello and double bass. She taught at DePauw for two years while carrying on her studies. In her junior year, she left school to take teaching positions in Anderson and Franklin, Indiana. “I have found no greater happiness in my life than in Alpha Chi Omega,” she said later in life. “All I have ventured to give toward the up-building and uplifting of our fraternity has been from the depths of my heart, and has been repaid in thousandfold by my girls.”

Anna Allen Smith Funeral Program, 1932

Anna Allen Smith Funeral Program, 1932

The program includes pieces from The Daily Banner written between May 23-26, 1932 regarding the death of Founder Anna Allen Smith (Alpha, DePauw University). The articles discuss plans for Smith's funeral as well as biographical information about the deceased.