Let’s Spell it Together: S-E-S-Q-U-I-C-E-N-T-E-N-N-I-A-L
By Staige Davis Hodges, Beta Theta-Duke
Since 1881, Delta Gammas have gathered at Convention with the purpose of accomplishing the business of the Fraternity and shaping its future direction. Sigma-Northwestern collegians summarized their 1902 Convention attendance aptly: “Perhaps the best lesson that Convention teaches us all ... is to work not only for the good of our individual chapters but also for the good of our Fraternity as a whole.” Days and evenings are punctuated by banquets, speeches, the sweet melody of Delta Gamma songs and reveling in sisterhood.
Convention has been held every two years, for the most part, since 1881 when only two chapters met: Psi I-Lewis School and Eta-Buchtel (Akron). Convention was deferred in 1917 due to World War I, as President Woodrow Wilson requested organizations contemplating conventions “abandon them for patriotic reasons” to save the expense and decrease railroad congestion. The $1,000 of the unused Convention fund was appropriated for war relief work. Convention would only be canceled one other time: in 1944 due to World War II.
The goal for the Fiftieth Anniversary Convention in Estes Park, Colorado, in 1924, was to “make it be the biggest and the best Convention we have ever had.” The Fraternity developed a scholarship “Birthday Fund,” which reached over $57,000, well beyond the aforethought-lofty goal of $50,000.
In 1948, the Diamond Jubilee Convention was held in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Each chapter provided a doll – a “Dream Girl” dressed in the fashion of the era in which the chapter was chartered. Attendees could tour the nearby L. G. Balfour Company to see how anchor badges were made.
Our grand Centennial was celebrated at the 1972 Convention in Los Angeles, California. Attendance was so high, that collegiate visitors were provided rooms at the local Alpha Nu-USC and Alpha Sigma-UCLA chapter houses and then bussed to and from Convention daily. Each collegiate chapter designed and made a fabric quilt square to create a commemorative centennial quilt, which now hangs in the Archives. Vicki Vannoy Nixon, Gamma Xi-Texas Tech, was at her first (of many) Conventions. She recalls, “One of the most memorable moments was when a bus loaded with Delta Gammas leaving the Convention suddenly realized that the band The Monkees ... was staying at the hotel. They walked by our bus to hoots and hollers and DGs calling out the names of their favorite artist!” Vicki, who later went on to serve on Council, is seated at the table at the front left in the banquet photo. She says about Council members she met, “I set my goal to be on Council one day after being exposed to these women. I guess it worked!”
By 1998, a Convention planner was on staff at Executive Offices to work with the host city and alumnae committee. Atlanta, Georgia, provided a hospitable welcome for the 125th.
Now the word that no one can easily pronounce: sesquicentennial. Since 2019, committees have been working on specially branded merchandise, local celebratory events, a commemorative 150th badge and a pictorial history book. Special events include Officer Training Seminar (OTS) in Memphis, Tennessee in June 2023, open to everyone, with a day trip to Oxford to walk in the Founders’ steps.
Interested in learning more about Delta Gamma's history? Check out our sesquicentennial anniversary pictorial history book, Celebrating 150 Years of Delta Gamma, 1873-2023. This 96-page limited edition pays homage to our history, including historical vignettes and images, many of which have never been seen before, curated into a masterful, comprehensive treasure trove. Purchase yours here!