From the Archives: The First Alumnae Chapter
The story of Delta Gamma’s first alumnae chapter reflects an important cultural moment in the United States in the 19th century. Allowing women to attend higher education institutions alongside male students was a controversial issue in the 1800s. The first college to admit female students, Oberlin College, did not do so until 1837. When Adelbert College began admitting women in 1883, a Delta Gamma chapter was installed that very year. Out of the 12 female students, seven were Delta Gammas. The women were met with hostility by the male students, as Cornelia Beardslee, Theta II-Adelbert recalls, “The [women] were not popular at Adelbert, and there was a sharp rivalry and jealousy on the [men’s] part as the girls did take the honors in every class.” Despite the women performing so well in their academics, feeling against coeducation grew until, in 1888, Adelbert barred women from attending.
That year at Convention (the fifth ever held) in Evanston, Illinois, the Delta Gammas from Adelbert applied for a charter of an alumnae chapter. Alumnae had been an active and integral part of the Fraternity for years, and a few had held gatherings. For example, alumnae in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Akron, Ohio, organized from time to time, but no formal alumnae chapter had ever been formed. The Delta Gamma Constitution did not even provide for alumnae chapters at the time women of Adelbert made their request. An article had to be created and incorporated into the Constitution, and the requested charter was ultimately granted.
Unfortunately, by 1891, the charter was returned. The number of members in the Cleveland area had dwindled to the point that continuing the chapter was not possible. Then, in 1912 meetings were once again taking place with close to 38 Delta Gammas living in the vicinity. Today, there are two Cleveland alumnae chapters, Cleveland East and Cleveland West Shore. This article, published in the Cleveland Press in 1968, details some of the remarkable history of the first alumnae chapter. Though it does contain one error, suggesting Delta Gamma was founded in 1883 instead of 1873.