Alpha Chi Omega

DIGITAL HISTORY

Tag : 1880s

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The History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity, Vol. 1, 1885-1910

The History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity, Vol. 1, 1885-1910

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).

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.

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.”

Louise Stuckey and Jennie Garver Flirting in the Park Cabinet Card, June 1887

Louise Stuckey and Jennie Garver Flirting in the Park Cabinet Card, June 1887

Louise Stuckey and Jennie Garver pose together in front of a backdrop made to look like a park. It is unclear whether the two women are members of Alpha Chi Omega.

Early Alpha Chis and Two Men Studying Cabinet Card

Early Alpha Chis and Two Men Studying Cabinet Card

Two unidentified Alpha Chis and two young men pose together studying.

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).

Table of Alpha Chis and Fijis Cabinet Card, Fall 1887

Table of Alpha Chis and Fijis Cabinet Card, Fall 1887

Alpha (DePauw University) chapter members sit with men from Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity during a dance.

Starr, Hough, Rude, Paul and Burnett at Thanksgiving Photograph, November 1888

Starr, Hough, Rude, Paul and Burnett at Thanksgiving Photograph, November 1888

Four Alpha (DePauw University) chapter members and a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma pose together at Thanksgiving. They are: Sidelia Starr (KKG), Anna Hough, Maud Rude Link, Grace Paul Kerr and Olive Burnett Clark.

Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity Second Soiree Musicale Program, October 20, 1887

Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity Second Soiree Musicale Program, October 20, 1887

Pearl Stone Partners Pearl Crown Lyre Badge

Pearl Stone Partners Pearl Crown Lyre Badge

This is a gold 22-pearl crown-set badge with four pearls across the base and a tall center point, originally belonging to Daisy Steele Wilson (Alpha, DePauw University), who was initiated in 1889. It is worn by the chair of the Pearl Stone Partners Board of Managers during her term of office.

Katherine McReynolds Morrison Badge, 1887

Katherine McReynolds Morrison Badge, 1887

This 1/2-inch badge belonged to Katherine McReynolds Morrison, a member of Alpha (DePauw University) chapter initiated in 1887. The badge is 10-karat gold and features 26 turquoise stones.

Bertha Deniston Cunningham Badge, 1885

Bertha Deniston Cunningham Badge, 1885

The only original badge known to still be in existence, this badge belonged to Founder Bertha Deniston Cunningham (Alpha, DePauw University) and was created in 1885. The 3/4-inch badge features 28 pearls and seven garnets. Unlike many later badges, which feature twisted lyre strings, the strings on this badge are flat. Each new chapter is presented a copy of this badge for the chapter president to wear during her term. The president's badge is then passed from president to president.