Long Live the Letter H
By Staige Davis Hodges, Beta Theta-Duke
Delta Gamma has a Fraternity seal. An official seal. An embossed-paper-kind-of-seal, not the kind with flippers. Our seal has gone through numerous iterations during significant events or times in our history, yet many were incorrect due to various turns of events and mistakes which could be seen as a comedy of errors worthy of William Shakespeare himself. From 1877 until 2022, there are seven variations on the seal, many with mistaken founding dates or lettering. The seal appears on chapter charters and other official documents of the Fraternity, so it is important to get our insignia accurate.
To preface this, let it be known that the official Delta Gamma seal created for the Sesquicentennial is indeed correct, and for that we are mighty proud and grateful!
The first Delta Gamma seal appears on the 1877 Constitution and is impressed on the earliest chapter charters. The Greek letter Ψ at the base of the laurel wreath is a nod to Lewis School. The meaning of the letters “C a P” has been lost to time.
Council approved and saw to the development of the seal by a Chicago firm of the design submitted by a Xi-Michigan chapter committee appointed at the 1899 Convention. We have Xi members Katharine Hine and Anna Barnard to thank for the design, which Clara Mulliken, Kappa-Nebraska, presented at the 1903 Convention for official recognition. She moved that the description of the seal be placed in the Fraternity Constitution, which carried, but this was not done until 1962. Interestingly, the 1905 Convention treasurer’s report lists $10.50 as the cost of the seal, and $3.00 for the hand press. For all of you economic inflation types, that is approximately $345/$99 today!
The 1904 version of the seal noted the founding date as 1872, which was the first in the series of over a century of errors. The outer Greek words of the seal read “The Great Seal of Delta Gamma.” The inner Greek words of the seal read “Character and Unity.” Keep your eyes on the letters H in the inner circle.
Sometime in the mid-1900s, the “H” letters in the inner circle were misread as “M” and misprinted, leading to the publication of this seal in the 1945 History and subsequent Constitutions. Additionally, our founding jumped curiously by two years.
A date-corrected seal appeared in 1966, yet the inner words still were incorrect with the letter “M.” And then, our Centennial celebration was upon us, starting in 1971. This special Centennial seal was mass-printed on the cover of the 1971 ANCHORA. The erroneous letter “M” lived on, but was corrected after the publication.
This brings us to the Sesquicentennial. We have seen that, in the years since the Centennial, incorrect versions still appeared, so we knew we needed to get the sesquicentennial seal back to “Character and Unity” as opposed to some Greek gibberish. In planning sesquicentennial special events and commemorative items, the “M vs. H” was at the forefront of our minds. The committee developed a seal worthy of our Founders and the monumental anniversary, as well as the character and unity of our beloved Delta Gamma. Long live the letter H for many reasons.
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!