The History of Alpha Gamma Delta

Founding Members

Our Founders

  • Marguerite Shepard,
  • Grace Mosher Harter,
  • Estelle Shepard Beswick,
  • Edith MacConnel Hickok,
  • Jennie Titus Smith Morris,
  • Mary Louise Snider,
  • Georgia Alberta Dickover,
  • Georgia Otis Chipman,
  • Flora Knight Mayer,
  • Emily Helen Butterfield,
  • and Ethel Evelyn Brown Distin

On the campus of Syracuse University in New York, two sisters, Marguerite and Estelle Shepard discussed the need for a new women's fraternity on the campus. The University enrollment had doubled from 1900 to 1904, yet only one addition had been made to the fraternity system. Thus, many women were being denied membership in a fraternal organization. The Shepard sisters discussed this issue with Dr. Wellesley Coddington, a highly respected professor of Greek, Latin and German at Syracuse University. With his full support and assistance, the sisters decided to pursue their dream of creating a new fraternity. They began to contact other women on the campus that they believed would be interested in developing a new fraternity.

Marguerite and Estelle Shepard encouraged five other women--Jennie Titus, Georgia Dickover, Grace Mosher, Ethel Brown, and Edith McConnell--to join in developing the organization. They developed a constitution and contacted a jeweler about creating the badge. Dr. Coddington helped develop a greek letter name for the organization. Soon four other women--Mary Snider, Georgia Otis, Emily Butterfield and Flora Knight--joined the group giving Alpha Gamma Delta it's eleven Founders. On May 4, 1904, at the home of Dr. Coddington, Alpha Gamma Delta was officially founded. The constitution and bylaws were read and approved, the badges were first worn, the official colors were chosen and officers were elected.

The first rush was held in September of 1904. On October 21, 1904 Alpha Gamma Delta was invited to become a chapter of an older fraternity. This invitation was refused and definite plans were made for extension. Unlike other groups that were founded as local groups to literary societies, Alpha Gamma Delta was founded to become a national women's fraternity. Alpha Gamma Delta was the first national women's fraternity to establish a philanthropy. The first Alpha Gam altruistic project was a camp for underprivileged children, which was started in 1919. Alpha Gamma Delta continued to be a leader in the National Panhellenic Conference by establishing an Executive Council format, the first of it's kind among Panhellenic groups.

In the five years that followed, eight new chapters were chartered in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, and Washington--a remarkable record in those years due to limited travel and relatively slow communication. Alpha Gamma Delta became international in 1919 when the Tau chapter was established at the University of Toronto.

Steady growth has marked the progress of Alpha Gamma Delta, throughout the years, due in large measures to goals set forth by our Founders and the strong foundation they laid for their new fraternity. Today Alpha Gamma Delta has 180 installed collegiate chapters, with more than 250 alumnae chapters, clubs and Junior Circles across North America. More than 140,000 women have been initiated into Alpha Gamma Delta since 1904.

About Alpha Gamma Delta, Psi Chapter

Illuminated manuscript of purpose.

The Alpha Gamma Delta Purpose, with its illuminated border, is a gift from Founder Emily Butterfield. It remains unchanged from the day it was written. The Purpose, contemporary and constant, is an open statement of goals and a constant reminder of what we, as individual members of Alpha Gamma Delta, strive to achieve throughout our lives.

The Psi Chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta was founded on the University of Alabama campus on November 18, 1921. As one of the first three sorority houses on campus, Alpha Gam is a member of First Circle.

Our flower is a red and buff rose with green asparagus plumosa fern. Because buff roses are rare, yellow roses are commonly substituted.

Our mascot, Skiourrous Squirrel symbolizes the spirit that never dies, the spirit of energetic alertness and progress.

Our jewel is the pearl, and our colors are Red, Buff, and Green.

Our crest, The Armorial Bearings, was approved at the first Alpha Gamma Delta Convention in 1907. Founder Emily Butterfield, who was recognized as an authority of heraldry, created the final design.

Our badge design was selected by the Founders; a monogram of the three Greek letters, with the Delta plain, the Gamma engraved and the Alpha superimposed upon the two.