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.
Dresses are of a modest dark fabric, and a woman's hair is "her crowning glory," though never worn down. Instead, women pile their hair on their head or pull it into a bun at the nape of the neck.
Seven female students at the DePauw University School of Music meet with Dean James Hamilton Howe at his invitation to begin the process of forming "a society for musical and social improvement."
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.
In the fall of 1885, the seven original founders invite eight friends from the School of Music to join Alpha Chi Omega.
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.
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.
10/20/1891 - 10/23/1891
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.
04/21/1898 - 08/13/1898
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.
Alpha Chi Omega attends a meeting of the Intersorority Conference, later renamed the National Panhellenic Conference, for the first time in 1903, a year after the organization's founding.
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.
The Fraternity officially adopts, "The Symphony," written by Celia McClure Pardee (Delta, Allegheny College).
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.
The newly established Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to 29 members who served overseas during World War I.
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.
Hazel Eckhart (Theta, University of Michigan) is named secretary-editor and the central office moves to Lansing, Michigan, where she lives.
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 dought covering the country.
1929 - 1939
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.
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.
09/01/1939 - 09/02/1945RELATED ITEMS
The 1945 National Convention is cancelled due to wartime conditions. National President Gladys Drach Power (Nu, University of Colorado Boulder) stated: "I assumed the Presidency in the middle of that devastating War during some of the most difficult years we had ever experienced. The shortage of many things we had always taken for granted had an extreme effect upon us. Food was rationed, gasoline was rationed, and all modes of travel were hampered. Train and airplane reservations were almost impossible to obtain since space was reserved for military personnel. Hotels were overcrowded. That year, our officers were elected by mail vote."
The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
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).
U.S. involvement in Vietnam escalates beginning in 1960 with troop levels gradually surging from just under 1,000 in 1959 to more than 16,000 in 1963.
1960 - 1963
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.
The Alpha Chi Omega central office moves to its first fraternity-owned property at 3445 Washington Boulevard in Indianapolis. This building served as the fraternity's headquarters until 1974.
A U.S. destroyer allegedly clashes with North Vietnamese fast attack craft. In response, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authorization to increase U.S. military presence in Vietnam, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels from about 23,000 to 184,000.
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.
A new headquarters, constructed specifically for Alpha Chi Omega's needs, is built at 8733 Founders Road in Indianapolis. This building served as the fraternity's headquarters until 1993.
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.
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.
A new headquarters is built at 5939 Castle Creek Parkway North Drive in Indianapolis. This building remains the fraternity headquarters to this day.
"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.
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.
03/20/2003 - 12/18/2011
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.
2007 - 2008
A shooting at Northern Illinois University kills six students and injures 18 others.
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 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.