Explore the history of Alpha Chi Omega since its founding in 1885. View the entire timeline, or filter the timeline events to show just certain aspects of Alpha Chi history such as the history of altruistic efforts or leadership.
The design for a lyre badge is adopted soon after the founding in the fall of 1885, and Bertha Deniston Cunningham (Alpha, DePauw University) purchases the first badge.
In the fall of 1885, the seven original founders invite eight friends from the School of Music to join Alpha Chi Omega.
The members of the new women's fraternity, Alpha Chi Omega, announce their presence by parading across campus to attend chapel at Meharry Hall in East College.
Oct 24th, 1885RELATED ITEMS
The First National Convention is held by Alpha (DePauw University) chapter in 1891 at the homes of Anna Allen Smith (Alpha, DePauw University) and Ethel Sutherlin (Alpha, DePauw University). Representatives from Alpha (DePauw University), Beta (Albion College) and Gamma (Northwestern University) chapters were present.
Oct 20th, 1891
In women's fashion, necklines are high, hemlines touch the floor and the bustle is "in."
Jun 1894RELATED ITEMS
The Spanish-American War begins as the U.S. intervenes on the side of Cuba in the Cuban War of Independence. When the war ends, the United States temporarily controls Cuba and owns Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippine islands. The Philippines will not gain independence until 1946. Puerto Rico and Guam remain U.S. possessions to this day.
Apr 21st, 1898
The diamond-shaped pledge pin is adopted at the 1900 National Convention. Previous to this, new members had simply worn scarlet and olive green ribbons.
A woman's place was considered to be "in the home." One in four states denied a married woman the right to own property. One in three did not allow her to claim her own earnings, and 36 states (of 45) denied her an equal share in the guardianship of her own children.
Generally, women still make their clothes from McCall or Butterick patterns, but mass-produced garments begin to come onto the market. Women spend $14 million on corsets alone!
Alpha Alpha (Chicago, Illinois) and Beta Beta (Indianapolis, Indiana) become the first two chartered alumnae chapters.
The coat of arms is adopted at the 1908 National Convention.
The initiation ceremony used today, which has undergone only slight changes, was unanimously adopted at the 1910 National Convention.
The province system of government is adopted and the country is divided into five provinces, each overseen by a province president.
New members are required to meet a scholarship standard in order to be eligible for initiation.
The Fraternity officially adopts, "The Symphony," written by Celia McClure Pardee (Delta, Allegheny College).
The world launched into WW1, Alpha Chi Omega did their part to support the war efforts. The fraternity provided financial support for over 100 French children who were orphaned during the War.
Jul 28th, 1914RELATED ITEMS
After decades of speeches, rallies, parades and women demanding the right to vote at the federal level, the U.S. Secretary of State certifies the ratification of the 19th Amendment, stating that no citizen could be denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. Twenty-six million women become voters.
Aug 26th, 1920
Twenty-nine members served their country overseas during the War and were presented the newly established Distinguished Service Medal. This plaque can be seen at headquarters.
The first permanent central office is established in Washington, D.C. with Mary Emma Griffith Marshall (Lambda, Syracuse University) serving as secretary-editor in charge of its administration.
Loose-fitting dresses and bobbed hair are in style.
Hazel Eckhart (Theta, University of Michigan) is named secretary-editor and the central office moves to Lansing, Michigan, where she lived.
The central office moves into a suite of offices in the Chamber of Commerce Building in Indianapolis.
The Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasts from 1929-39. As the Depression begins, 25% of the workforce is unemployed and hourly wages drop 60%. Nature adds to the country's woes with the Ohio River flood, the "Black Sunday" dust storm in Texas and drought covering the country.
The 50th Golden Jubilee Convention is celebrated first in Greencastle, Indiana, then by train to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia and finally to Washington, D.C. Four founders are in attendance.
Jun 1935RELATED ITEMS
More than 300,000 women serve in the military during the war as part of the WACs, WAVEs and SPARs - including many Alpha Chis. An overwhelming number of women go to work while the men go off to war, and "Rosie the Riveter" becomes their worldwide symbol. On the homefront, many families plant Victory Gardens, and every family is issued a War Ration Book.
Sep 1st, 1939RELATED ITEMS
President Harry S. Truman appoints the Committee on Civil Rights to investigate the status of civil rights in the United States.
The National Society for Crippled Children, Cerebral Palsy Division, was adopted as a national altruistic project.
Jan 1st, 1947RELATED ITEMS
When questioned about the relevance of fraternities in a post-war era, National President Mildred Estabrook Scott stated: "Most colleges are too dependent on them for housing, group activities, campus leadership, cultural stimulation and scholastic achievement to do away with them."
Jan 1st, 1950RELATED ITEMS
The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
Girls wear full skirts that require crinolines underneath, short shorts and pop beads. The boys wear pink!
The Award of Achievement is created to be presented to eminent Alpha Chis at each convention. The first recipients are: Helen Cheyney Bailey (Alpha Epsilon, University of Pennsylvania), Margaret Cousins (Alpha Phi, The University of Texas at Austin), Dorothy Thompson Kopf (Lambda, Syracuse University) and Lena Mulford Thompson (Alpha, DePauw University).
During the first four years of the decade, the Fraternity's focus on lodging for collegiate chapters resulted in 10 suites or lodges refurnished, 11 chapter houses remodeled or enlarged, four houses purchased and enlarged, and four new houses and two new lodges built.
Jan 1st, 1955RELATED ITEMS
The Beatles, widely regarded as the most influential rock 'n' roll band, form in Liverpool.
The 75th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary National Convention is held in French Lick, Indiana and includes a reenactment of the Founding in Meharry Hall at DePauw University.
Jun 1960RELATED ITEMS
South Vietnamese forces are unable to withstand the Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese in January and February of 1968 and U.S. forces have to defeat the North Vietnamese. The episode shows that the end of U.S. involvement is nowhere in sight, and domestic skepticism of the war increases.
Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis.
Apr 4th, 1968
The decision was made at convention that recommendations from an alumna member no longer would be required to be eligible for membership in Alpha Chi Omega.
Jul 1st, 1968RELATED ITEMS
The U.S. Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment, stating that, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or any state on account of sex." In order to become law, it must be ratified by 38 states within 10 years.
Mar 22nd, 1972
Police arrest men attempting to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters, marking the beginning of the Watergate scandal.
Jun 17th, 1972RELATED ITEMS
157 women become the first female cadets to enter the Air Force Academy. The Class of 1980 was the first to graduate women, with a total of 97 women graduating that year.
Jun 28th, 1976
The Founders' Bell Tower is constructed by Alpha Chi Omega as part of DePauw University's new performing arts building and is dedicated to the memory of the seven founders.
Oct 1976RELATED ITEMS
Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cindy Thatcher (Zeta Nu, Texas A&M University) becomes the 1000,000th initiated member.
The annual Alumnae Appreciation Award is created to recognize the outstanding loyalty and commitment of an alumna who serves at the local level. Florence Lindahl Cooling (Iota, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) is the first recipient.
The 100th anniversary Centennial Celebration is held in Indianapolis with more than 1,800 alumnae, collegians and guests in attendance. Highlights include a day at DePauw University, where an original musical in honor of Alpha Chi Omega's founding, "Lucinda Hero," is presented, as well as a reenactment of the Founding in Meharry Hall.
The World Wide Web is born. In just two years, 3 million people will be "on line." By 1998, that number will have increased to 100 million.
New member terminology is adopted in place of the traditional "pledge" terminology. Additionally, the traditional system of an extended pledge period is discontinued, and a shortened period between accepting a bid and initation is adopted.
A new headquarters is built at 5939 Castle Creek Parkway North Drive in Indianapolis. This building served as the organization's headquarters until 2022.
Kristin's Story, a joint project sponsored by Alpha Chi Omega and Delta Delta Delta Fraternity, designed to educate women about date rape and depression, has its inaugural presentation at Florida State University.
Terrorists hijack airplanes and crash them into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. 2,996 people are killed and more than 6,000 are injured in the attacks, with others dying from complications in the coming years. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.
Sep 11th, 2001
Believing Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, a U.S.-led coalition invades Iraq in 2003 and overthrows the government of Saddam Hussein. Although it turns out that Iraq did not have the weapons, the conflict continues for much of the next decade as insurgents oppose the new U.S.-backed government.
Dr. Condoleezza Rice (Gamma Delta, University of Denver) is sworn in as the first female African American U.S. Secretary of State.
A global financial crisis begins with a crisis in the subprime mortgage market in the U.S. and becomes a full-blown international crisis with the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. It is considered by many to be the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.
The Life Loyal program is launched at the 2008 National Convention to provide enhanced services to members and recognize members who financially support the Fraternity. It transitioned to the Life Loyal Roll with the Foundation in 2019.
A shooting at Northern Illinois University kills six students and injures 18 others.
Feb 14th, 2008
The first issue of the newly-redesigned The Lyre is sent in spring 2010.
Alpha Chis from all across the country gather in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the Fraternity's 125th anniversary.
Alpha Chi Omega launches rotational programs including the Alcohol Skills Training Program (ASTP) and InTune, ensuring that every collegiate chapter member receives a member development opportunity facilitated in person by an expert facilitator. The rotational programs that are later launched include REPRESENT in 2012 and Let's Talk Love in 2016.
The final shuttle flight lands at the Kennedy Space Center, signifying the end of the NASA shuttle space program. The program, which began in 1981 and included 135 missions, was completed when the Shuttle Atlantis flew its final mission to the International Space Station.
Jul 21st, 2011
A new membership milestone recognition for 10-year members, along with a new 10-year membership recognition pin, is introduced.