Field Secretaries in the 1940s & 1950s
Pictured: Jean Pierce, Epsilon-Ohio State
Did you know that Delta Gamma’s well-known Collegiate Development Consultant (CDC) Program used to be called the Field Secretary Program?
The program informally began in 1941. A member of the Fraternity Council, First Vice President Roberta Abernethy, Epsilon-Ohio State, asked Jean Pierce, a recent Epsilon graduate, to travel to Colorado for a special assignment with Phi chapter. Though the trip wasn’t the intentional creation of a formal program, it was such a success that Jean continued to take on special assignments when she started working as Roberta’s assistant at Delta Gamma’s first Central Office (now known as Executive Offices).
The Field Secretary Program officially began in 1945, when four Field Secretaries were hired to support what was, at the time, Delta Gamma’s most intensive expansion program. The name Field Secretary was chosen as it mirrored one of our prominent volunteer roles at the time – the Province Secretary. There was a big demand for the position as expansion, or the creation of new chapters, was at full force and many new chapters needed help with organization. The number of women going through the recruitment process with our collegiate chapters began to triple and quadruple during the post-World War II era, and chapters began calling for assistance to handle the influx of members.
Throughout the 40s and 50s, Field Secretaries would travel to chapters to address and aid specific problems and help new chapters in getting started. They were sent as needed to chapters that needed special attention and support. In 1947, of the three Field Secretaries hired, “two were assigned to specific areas, while one was designated a Traveling Secretary,” as noted in the fall 1995 issue of the ANCHORA.
During these years, there were typically only three or four women who were hired for the position. They were recent graduates and considered outstanding members of their chapter.
“I was the only Field Secretary in 1956-1957 and it was a wonderful adventure,” shared Beverly Bosh Yorke, Alpha Theta-North Dakota.
When asked to recount some of her most notable memories of her time as a Field Secretary, Beverly shared that she “travelled coast-to-coast on small airplanes, trains, buses, cars, [and] met with chapter members, alums and various faculty members.”
During this era of the Field Secretary Program, young alumnae like Beverly would often travel with a portable typewriter and write their reports and expense accounts while heading to their next destinations, often by overnight trains.
“My wardrobe had to be versatile for the various climates, [and] casual and more formal events,” Beverly remembers. “It all needed to fit in one suitcase, certainly a challenge! This position got me ready for my next career move as a flight attendant, which I truly enjoyed as well.”
Interested in learning more about how the program evolved? Read this next blog post exploring the changes the Field Secretary Program went through during the 1960s & 1970s