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The Ten Founders

Alpha Phi exists today because of the vision and ideals of the women who founded Alpha Phi in 1872. In early September of 1872, Martha Foote, Kate Hogoboom, and Clara Sittser gathered one afternoon to discuss the problems facing the first college women entering Syracuse University. Feeling that their presence in the classroom was unwelcome, that their position in this experiment of coeducation was by no means secure adn having witnessed the solidarity of the fraternites, they asked, ". . . why can't we have a society as well as the men?"

In inviting the rest of the female student body to join them for another meeting, they answered their own question.

After further meetings prepared the way, the first chapter meeting was held on September 18, 1872. Rena Michaels was elected President and plans were made for weekly meetings. Literary programs and a debate every three weeks were included in the agenda.

On September 30, 1872, at the home of Ida Gilbert, ten women founded Alpha Phi with the first initiation ceremony.

Our Ten Founders' most distinctive contributions to our fraternity:

Clara Bradley Burdette

Clara Bradley Burdette was 17 years old. Clara's mother, who was known as "ma" Bradley, loaned the girls $50 to rent and furnish their first chapter hall.

Florence Chidester Lukens

Eighteen year old Florence was one of the first founders of the silent chapter. It was at her home tht the first reception was held.


Martha Foote Crow, The First National President

At age 18, Martha Foote Crow had the first idea of creating a national sorority. She is quoted for having said, "We have all of the alphabet to go through." She was the National President of Alpha Phi and the fourth Alpha Phi to serve a Dean of Women at Northwestern University.

Ida Gilbert Houghton

Ida was the youngest of the group. She was the first to hold an Alpha Phi banquet follwing initiation. We owe this tradition to her and her mother.

Jane Higham

Jane Higham was a brilliant 16 year old student who eventually became Dean of the Highschool in Rome, New York. She was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Kate Hogoboom Gilbert

At age 17, Kate was the first recording secretary of the chapter. Along with Mattie Foote, she wrote the Ritual and the First Constitution. Kate was also the mother of the first Alpha Phi daughter.

Elizabeth Hubbell Shults

Mattie Foote and Elizabeth won a debate on the topic "Resolved: That Women Have Their Rights," which was one of the first exercises of the chapter. She was 22 years old and was one of the first founders to be married.

Rena Michaels Atchison & Clara Sittser Williams

Rena Michaels Atchison was the first president of the chapter. We were incorporated as a literary society called the Michaelanean Society in her honor. She became Dean of Women at Northwestern. It was in Clara Sittser Williams' room where Alpha Phi was first planned. At age 19, she was also the first Alpha Phi to try and give her pin away, therefore, establishing a rule that forbids anything of that kind.

Louise Shepard Hancock

Jane Higham and Louise were best friends. Sixteen year old Louise was known for her literary contributions.


The first Alpha Phi sorority house



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