In Mount Pleasant Finding Kappa, Pi Phi, Alpha Xi, and P.E.O. Connections

I’m in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. I just toured the Memory Room in Old Main at Iowa Wesleyan University. I’ve been there before, but it is always a treat to tour the campus where P.E.O. was founded on January 21, 1869. A month earlier, on December 21, 1868, Iowa Alpha of Pi Beta Phi was founded at Iowa Wesleyan. Libbie Brook (Gaddis) left Monmouth College and enrolled at IWU so that she could start a new chapter of her women’s fraternity.

Libbie, the Ring Ching Roadshow car, is named in honor of Libbie Brooks Gaddis), who left Monmouth College for a year to start a second chapter.

Libbie, the Ring Ching Roadshow car, is named in honor of Libbie Brooks (Gaddis), who left Monmouth College for a year to start a second chapter.

Pi Beta Phi was founded as I.C. Sorosis on April 28, 1867. It was founded at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois. Three years later, Kappa Kappa Gamma was founded at Monmouth. Imagine my surprise at seeing the name of my Kappa friend, Kylie Towers Smith, in the guest book at the Memory Room. Had I visited a week earlier, I could have toured it with Kylie. I suspect if we toured it together, there would be much laughter involved in the tour.


Kylie Towers Smith, Kappa Kappa Gamma, signed the guest book a week before I did.

After Libbie Brook organized the second chapter of her fraternity, several of the women who declined an invitation to join because not all of their circle was included in the invitation, were at Hollowell’s Restaurant. It is said that they talked about how Libbie Brook had done what she had set out to do. The women’s response to that information would be monumental.

It is said that Hallowells Restaurant os hg

An 1869 ad for Hallowell’s Restaurant where some of the P.E.O. discussed the establishment of the I.C. Sorosis chapter.

Although the beginnings of Pi Beta Phi and P.E.O. are connected by Libbie Brooks and Iowa Wesleyan, there is another connection that is more intimate. June 9, 1902, is a defining date for two organizations, Alpha Xi Delta and the P.E.O. Sisterhood. P.E.O. was founded as a collegiate organization at Iowa Wesleyan College on January 21, 1869. Alpha Xi Delta was founded on April 17, 1893 at Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois. Iowa Wesleyan is about 60 miles from Galesburg with the Mississippi River separating the two.

1914 P.E.O. Emblem

1914 P.E.O. Emblem

azdIn the years between 1869 and 1902, the P.E.O. members who had been initiated while students at Iowa Wesleyan stayed active in the college chapter even though they were no longer college students. Many remained in or near Mount Pleasant. Others formed chapters in towns where the members moved after leaving the college. The early P.E.O. chapters that had been founded at nearby schools did not survive and P.E.O.’s growth was in community chapters. The chapter at Iowa Wesleyan was finding it difficult to operate on a college campus with the rules put forth by the community chapters. After the turn of the century, the governing body of P.E.O. made the decision to withdraw the charter of the Iowa Wesleyan chapter. The students wished to remain a collegiate organization and discussed becoming a chapter of a Greek-letter organization.

The Alpha Xi Delta Chapter at Lombard, having made the decision to become a national organization, and the collegiate members of P.E.O., having decided to become a chapter of a Greek-letter organization, discussed the decisions that needed to be made on both sides if there was to be a resolution to these wishes. Anna Gillis-Kimble, a member of the Alpha Xi Delta Chapter at Lombard College, was from Mount Pleasant. Her influence helped the Iowa Wesleyan women make the decision to become the Beta Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta.

On that Monday in 1902, for the first time, the Alpha Xi Delta members entered the Lombard College Chapel wearing tri-colored ribbons. The ribbons signified that they were now a national organization. After chapel, the Alpha Xi Delta installing officers made their way from Galesburg to Mount Pleasant.

The installation of Alpha Xi Delta’s second chapter took place at the home of Ellen Ball. Cora Bollinger-Block presided at the installation. Helping her were Ella Boston-Leib*, Alice Barlett-Bruner, Jennie Marriot-Buchanan, Virginia Henney Franklin, Anna Gillis-Kimble, and Edna Epperson-Brinkham.  With the installation of the chapter, it also signified the day that P.E.O. became a community organization.

In 1913, Iowa Wesleyan College authorities allowed the chapter to initiate the P.E.O. alumnae as Alpha Xi Deltas. Afterwards, the Mount Pleasant Alumnae Club of Alpha Xi Delta was formed.


The Alpha Xi Delta chapter gave the IWU a bench on the occasion of the chapter’s centennial. The bench is in front of the P.E.O. Memorial Library, now IWU’s administrative offices.

The only P.E.O. founder to be continuously involved with P.E.O. was Alice Bird Babb. Her daughter Alice Babb was a member of the Beta Chapter of Alpha Xi Delta. In June 1924, Alice Bird Babb became an alumna initiate of Alpha Xi Delta.

Gillis-Kimble was the first Alpha Xi Delta delegate to attend the Inter-Sorority Conference (now known as the National Panhellenic Conference) in 1904. She served as the first Editor of The Alpha Xi Delta of the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority (now The Quill). Her role in making Alpha Xi Delta a national organization was only one of her contributions to her beloved sorority.


Alice Bird Babb, a P.E.O. founder, was also a member of Alpha Xi Delta

* Ella Boston Leib also served as Alpha Xi Delta’s Grand President, National Panhellenic Conference delegate, and Chairman of  NPC as well as the President of Illinois State Chapter of P.E.O. For more information about this, please take a look at this post .

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All rights reserved.  If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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A Weekend With Amazing Sorority Women

I’ve been on a vacation of sorts. Well, it wasn’t really a vacation in the normal sense of the word. It has been five days filled with amazing sorority women. It was a leadership academy for sorority women. And while most of them were members of my own organization, there were a few who wore the badges of the other NPC groups, including the wonderful Erin Fischer, who was our rock star. There was even a fraternity man, Shawn Eagleburger, in the mix. And Sis Mullis, was there. That’s all that needs to be said. She danced and danced and danced and gave the Institute a special Sis-ness.

None of the facilitators had titles at this event. The Grand President was incognito and it was not until the last 15 minutes that her presence was revealed to most of the college women who hadn’t made the connection between the facilitator named Paula and the fact that she leads our organization.

I promised them – Paige, Jill, Jackie, Riley, Jenny, Katie, Allie, Rachel, Hannah, Sara, Dana, Sarah, and MacKenzie – a post, so here it is. Thank you ladies for a fabulous couple of days. The future is in your hands and I can’t wait to see it! You are all phenomenal women!


Squad 13


Washington University’s Brookings Hall 0n my early morning walk


Breaking the ice and diving in


Facilitors of Squad 13. On the left is Mackenzie Price, a Hillsdale Pi Phi.

Facilitators of Squad 13. On the left is Mackenzie Price, a Hillsdale Pi Phi.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Garry Marshall, a Life Loyal Tau

Garry Marshall, creator of Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, and a slew of other television and film hits, was a member of Alpha Tau Omega. He died yesterday.

He was initiated into the Northwestern University chapter of ATO where he served as an officer of the chapter.

December 1953 officer listing

December 1953 officer listing

From the September 1954 edition of The Palm of Alpha Tau Omega.

From the September 1954 edition of The Palm of Alpha Tau Omega.

Screenshot (37)

Alpha Tau Omega had a place in the Happy Days. An ATO paddle was on the set of Arnold’s Drive In, just above a “Marshall” pennant. Happy Days characters Richie Cunningham, Potsie Weber and Ralph Malph pledged ATO in one of the story lines.

The ATO paddle is on the top left.

The ATO paddle is on the top left.

Garry Marshall brought joy and laughter into the lives of so many people and he will be missed. My condolences to his friends and family.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Turn, Turn, Turn…

Today’s post sounds eerily similar to yesterday’s post. Today it is a death and an anniversary.

International Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta

With great sadness, we report that a Phi Gamma Delta brother was among the 84 people who died in the July 14 terrorist attack in Nice, France.

Nick Leslie (California Berkeley 2018) was in France participating in Cal’s study abroad program this summer. We extend our condolences to Nick’s family, his brothers at the Delta Xi Chapter, and all those who knew and loved him.

For more on this tragic news:…/uc-berkeley-student-confirmed-dead-france…

Three other UC-Berkeley students were injuried in the attack. Vladyslav Kostiuk and Daryus Medora suffered broken legs. Diane Huang’s foot was broken.

I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and Fiji brothers of Nick Leslie and my fervent hope for quick healing to those injured in the tragedy.


Thirty years ago, the LeaderShape Institute became a reality. In the early 1980s, Alpha Tau Omega began searching for a way to help its members become better leaders. Through the efforts of some visionary leaders, LeaderShape took form.

On July 19, 1986, the first LeaderShape Institute was held at the University of Illinois Conference Center at Allerton House in Monticello, Illinois, approximately 20 miles southwest of Champaign. The first session began on Saturday, July 19, and ended on Friday, July 25. The second session started the following Sunday and wrapped up on Saturday. In addition to the Alpha Tau Omega men, each of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference organizations were invited to send a representative. All but one NPC took ATO up on the offer. 

A dry run of the LeaderShape concept had been part of the 1985 ATO Congress, which was held in Champaign, Illinois. The Congress undergraduate attendees were grouped into 15 LeaderShape chapters which functioned as model ATO chapters.

From the Winter 1986 Arrow of Pi Beta Phi

From the Winter 1986 Arrow of Pi Beta Phi

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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There Is a Season…….

The truck attack in Nice, France on Bastille Day, July 14, 2016, claimed the lives of an American father and son. Sean Copeland, 51, and his 11-year-old son Brodie were killed in the attack. Maegan Copeland, a Kappa Kappa Gamma alumna, and Sean Copeland, an Alpha Tau Omega, were in France celebrating together. The celebration turned into a tragedy, Condolences to their family.

Ole Miss Kappa Kappa Gamma

Ole Miss Kappa Kappa Gamma sends our sincere condolences to our sister, Maegan Copeland (’05), and as well as to her family, who suffered the tragic loss of her father and little brother while in Nice, France over the past couple of days. The link to their GoFundMe account is posted below, and we encourage you to make a donation to help our sister and her family through this time of loss. We cannot imagine the heartbreak you feel – we are here for you always.

Prayers for Tau Austin Copeland in Nice France who lost his dad Sean and brother Brodie in yesterday’s cowardly attack.


This morning, I learned that a Chi Omega founder and an Alpha Xi founder share a birthday.

July 16, 1878 Jean Marie Vincenheller Founder was born in Eastland County, TX


Happy Birthday to one of our Founders, Lewie Strong Taylor! She was born on July 18, 1867.

I’ve also added the two birthdates to the State by State Tour of Graves, Founding Sites, and HQs for NPC GLOs

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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GLO Recruitment Via Famous Alumnae/Alumni

“Reverting to immediately prior version; fact about Kappa Alpha Theta membeship (sic) is unsupported and a Google search suggests it refers to a different person altogether.” The subject of this wikipedia entry was Edith Schwartz Clements. She was indeed a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. I went searching for a primary source which would leave no doubt that it was she, and not another Edith Clements, who was a Theta. I found it the Kappa Alpha Theta, Vol. 22(2), January 1909, on page 164 in the report of the Minneapolis Alumnae Association: “It was our privilege in October to give a tea at the home of Mrs Birch in welcome to Edith Schwartz Clements of Rho chapter whose brilliant husband has come to head the department of botany at the university. The guests included the wives of members of the faculty and also representatives from the alumnae chapters of the other women’s fraternities.” (See for more info on Schwartz.)

I enjoy documenting the GLO connections of wikipedia subjects. I will also delete the information about a person if I come across it while searching something else. I took out the claim that Carly Simon was a member of a GLO. She isn’t. That said, I am not the wikipedia police and I am not going out searching for problems. If I come across something that needs correcting, I will correct it, but it’s not my main purpose in life.

So how did I end up here? I’m not really sure. For the past 36 hours, I have been felled by a rare summer cold, a gift from my husband, who has been battling it for a few days longer. On Wednesday, Libbie, the Pi Phi car, and her driver Daphney, joined the Southern Illinois Pi Phi Alumnae Club for lunch and a photo op. After the festivities were over, I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few things. There, in the produce section, a head cold attacked me and it was as if a faucet turned itself on. Three boxes of tissues later, two of them the lotion kind that gets saved for this purpose, I feel sort of like myself again. 


There are about 30 Pi Phis in Southern Illinois. A third of them are dues paying members to the Alumnae Club and most of them attended the lunch with Libbie.

There are about 30 Pi Phis in Southern Illinois. A third of them are dues paying members to the Alumnae Club and most of them attended the lunch with Libbie.

But back to wikipedia. Should anyone join a certain GLO solely because someone they admire or some famous people belonged to that organization? No, no, and a thousand times, no. 

For those women signing up for Panhellenic recruitment, I give you this advice. Do not rule out any organizations solely because of what you heard from your cousin who is on another campus, or your boyfriend who is at a school that doesn’t have GLOs, or from what you read on the internet on “ranking” sites. If you’re a legacy do not think you will have automatic entry into that organization. It’s not possible in many instances. And the fact is that it might not be the best match for you. Joining an organization to please someone else isn’t the best option in most cases. You, and only you, need to be happy with your choice. The grass is always greener on the other side if you let it be. It is up to you to work for the betterment of the organization you join.

For those hoping to join organizations whose recruitment is not as structured as the Panhellenic Council recruitment, I advocate keeping an open mind and being willing to make a decision to work on behalf of that GLO. It doesn’t matter who wore the badge before you; you and your chapter members, how you behave and dedicate yourself to the organization, will be the ones who decide its future.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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An Exercise in Futility?

I often wonder why I couldn’t be interested in blogging about something with more mass appeal than the history of fraternities and sororities. Convincing members of GLOs that is important to know the history of their own GLO as well as other organizations is not an easy task. After all, the world is a different place than it was even ten years ago and talking about the 1800s and 1900s is akin to droning on about the prehistoric world. Furthermore, most of people I write about are d-e-a-d and have been for decades. Discussing GLOs with those who are not members and have a definite opinion/dislike/disdain about GLOs is an exercise in futility.


(Courtesy of the Student Life and Culture Archives, Wilson Heller Collection)

(Courtesy of the Student Life and Culture Archives, Wilson Heller Collection)


I’m an introvert although I can manage well among people when I must. There are days when I seriously consider becoming a recluse, but my cat allergy puts a crimp on that thought. Dogs are just too demanding. At the memorial service I attended on Saturday, someone came up to me and said, “You’re the dog walker!” “Yes, I am,” was my reply, because walking our two dogs is what I do. Researching and writing about GLOs is what I truly love to do. While I’ve considered closing this blog and finding something more lucrative, say selling real estate, I keep coming across items that need to be shared. 

Exhibit A – The men of Beta Theta Pi at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln set up a go-fund account for their former housefather, Erv Williams.

Exhibit B –  Last year, I wrote about Mimi Baird, an alumna initiate of Pi Beta Phi, who wrote about a father she barely knew ( The movie rights to her book, He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter’s Quest to Know Him, have been purchased by Brad Pitt. Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner will be working on the screen adaptation. Dr. Perry Baird, the subject of the book, was a member of Alpha Tau Omega. The Variety articles summed up his life very well, “Baird was a rising medical star in the late ’20s and ’30s who researched the biochemical root of manic depression, just as he began to suffer from it himself. By the time the results of his groundbreaking experiments were published, he had been institutionalized multiple times and he had become estranged from his family. He later received a lobotomy and died from a seizure.”

Exhibit C – Nu Alpha Kappa, a Latino-based fraternity was established on February 26, 1988 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Tony Arreola, one of the founders, recently donated $100,000 to the NAK National Alumni Association’s Scholarship Fund. On the Nu Alpha Kappa facebook pages, Arreola is quoted, “Nu Alpha Kappa and my college experience at Cal Poly have given me back so much over the years…The Arreola Family Award is my way of paying it forward by helping NAK brothers graduate from college.”

I am currently soliciting projects and speaking engagements for the fall. Use the contact form below.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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“And That Is How It Is That It Is As It Is”

My anthropologist friend posted a link to the digital collections at the New York Public Library and I spent a few hours in a rabbit hole. Among the collections are many menus bearing this seal.


I looked at dozens of menus from Greek-Letter Organization events. One of the most captivating items I looked at was this one from a 1907 meeting of Phi Gamma Delta men.*


Phi Gam menu

Phi Gam menu



Since I dove into the treasures without reading about the collection, I became a little curious about the “Buttolph Collection.” Who was the mysterious person named Buttolph? Wikipedia’s entry includes only this information:

Frank E. Buttolph (born Frances Editha Buttles; 1844–1924) was an American collector known for initiating the Miss Frank E. Buttolph American Menu Collection, 1851-1930 at New York Public Library in 1899.

In 1899, Buttolph offered to donate her private collection of American menus to the New York Public Library. The director of the library at the time, John Shaw Billings, agreed to house the collection. Buttolph remained a steadfast presence at the library, continuing to expand the collection until her death in 1924. Today, it is part of the New York Public Library Menu Collection. It is one of the largest menu collections in the world. The collection continues to grow and is currently curated by culinary librarian, Rebecca Federman.

The wikipedia entry left me with many questions. I went searching again. I found a few answers on a blog written by Steve Orner, an arborist and tree surgeon who  at Mansfield University in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. 

Frank E. Buttles, Mansfield Normal School from Steve Orners blog)

Frank E. Buttles, Mansfield State Normal School from Steve Orner’s blog)

Buttolph, when she was known as known as Frank E. Buttles, graduated from Mansfield University, when it was Mansfield State Normal School. Orner cited an entry in a 1913 Mansfield alumni publication:

A letter of unusual interest has been received from Miss Frank E. Buttolph, of 476 Fifth Ave., N.Y., a member of the Class of 1866, the first class to be graduated, where the name was spelled “Buttles.

It is interesting to note that the New York Public Library is located at 476 Fifth Avenue and has been since 1911. The Mansfield alumni publication included this information about Buttolph:

She is also a ‘born collector’ and one of her collections—a very unique one—consists of 26,000 menu cards gathered from all quarters of the globe and commemorating many notable occasions.  They are now housed for permanent exhibition in the new Astor Library, New York city—a testimony to their historical and artistic value.

To read Orner’s blog about Buttolph, see To view the NYPL’s digital collections see There is also a collection of Buttolph’s menus in the British Library. To view some of the digital files belonging to the British Library, see

*From Towner Blackstock, Phi Gamma Delta’s Curator of Archives: 

These “Fiji Jamborees” resulted in the organization of the New York Club. The banquet lasted four hours, 8 to midnight, with 214 attending. The speakers include three Archon Presidents: Orion Cheney (NYU 1897), Horace Brightman (Columbia 1892), and Newton D. Baker (Johns Hopkins 1892, W&L 1894) . . . yes, the same folks for whom the Cheney Cup, Brightman Trophy, and Baker Cup are named. “On Saturday, February 2, and the Hotel Astor, occurred the most splendid and successful meeting of Phi Gamma Delta ever held in New York,” crowed The Phi Gamma Delta. “The immediate cause of this assemblage was a call sent out by Section Chief Cheney to the Columbia, New York, Trinity and Yale chapters for a convention at which the things that were of most importance to the fraternity could be discussed. Inasmuch as New York is the home of many hundreds of Fijis, it was thought advisable to have as many of these men present as possible, and to extend a general invitation to all members of the fraternity, and in order to accomplish this the inducement was held out that President Baker and Secretary Pogue would be on hand ….Each chapter presented a paper on fraternity topics, and Yale put on a model initiation. Discussions then turned to organizing a club for the thousand or so brothers in New York…..Before the crowd dispersed steps had been taken toward organizing a Phi Gamma Delta Club and a committee appointed with power to secure permanent quarters.”


My Saturday afternoon was spent at a memorial service for a member of my Rotary club who was also a member of my P.E.O. chapter. I mentioned her a few posts ago. Blanche Carlton Sloan, Ph.D. was a gracious, articulate, and intelligent woman. At age 92, she no longer made it to the club’s 7 a.m. meetings, but she attended the March 29 Fifth Tuesday potluck. I remember asking her about Harper Lee, who had died in February; the author spent a year at Huntingdon College, Blanche’s alma mater. Blanche was the first female District Governor in Rotary District 6510 and she was a “steel magnolia” in her dealings in what was a man’s world. She also served Rotary on an international level. She was an ardent supporter of the organizations in town and she will be sorely missed. To read about her service to Rotary in her own words, written sometime after 2008, see    

Blanche Carlton Sloan cheering on the Saluki basketball team during the 2015-2016 season.

Blanche Carlton Sloan cheering on the SIUC Saluki basketball team during the 2015-2016 season.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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Fraternity and Sorority Members Competing in the 2016 Olympics

It’s an Olympic year! Here is an on-going list of fraternity and sorority members who will be competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Please help me compile this information; comment with the names of those I haven’t discovered yet. You can use the contact form below or tweet me at @GLOhistory. Four years ago, the list was comprised of only NPC sorority women who competed in 2012 ( I’d like to include as many members of GLOs as I can.



Kassidy Cook, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Stanford University

Abby Johnston, Delta Delta Delta, Duke University – Silver medal, 2012 



Kristin Armstrong, Kappa Kappa Gamma, University of Idaho – Gold medal 2008, 2012

Evelyn Stevens, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Dartmouth College



Eleanor (Elle) Logan, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Stanford University – Gold medal 2008, 2012

Genevra “Gevvie” Stone, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Princeton University



Danny Barrett, Beta Theta Pi, UC – Berkeley



Ryan Carlyle, Zeta Tau Alpha, University of Southern California


Paige Railey, Delta Delta Delta, University of South Florida



Kelley O’Hara, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Stanford University – Gold medal 2012



Mariya Koroleva, Delta Delta Delta, Stanford University



Trey McRae, Kappa Alpha Psi



Laura Bennett,  Chi Omega, Southern Methodist University



Melissa (Mel) Seidemann, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Stanford University – Gold medal 2012



Erika Lang, Chi Omega, Rollins College




Evan Ryan Austin, Pi Kappa Phi


Tatyana McFadden, Phi Sigma Sigma, University of Illinois – Gold medal 2012, four medals in 2008, two medals in 2004.



Jamaican Swim Team, Alia Atkinson, Sigma Gamma Rho

Nigerian Rowing Team, Chierika Ukogu, Kappa Alpha Theta, Stanford University. She will row in the women’s singles and she is the first female rower for Nigeria. 


Aimee Banghart Boorman, Delta Phi Epsilon, Northern Illinois University, is Simone Biles coach

Christine Brennan, Chi Omega, Northwestern University, sports writer and analyst.

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A Coolidge and a Sisson and a Patriotic Convention

It’s July 4th, the date upon which America celebrates its independence. Here are some 4th of July appearances in the GLO world.

Yesterday’s most viewed most was the one about Calvin Coolidge being the only U.S. President to be born on the 4th of July. I suspect the readers were trying to find the answer to a trivia question.

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., the 30th President of the United States, was born on July 4, 1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts where he became a member of Phi Gamma Delta.

After graduation, while working as a lawyer in nearby Northampton, he met Grace Goodhue, a Pi Beta Phi who had recently graduated from the University of Vermont. She was working at the Clarke School for the Deaf. They married in the Goodhue family home in Burlington, Vermont. Although they spent their married life living in Massachusetts with a side trip to Washington, D.C. , Vermont seemed to be always in their hearts.

Festivities to honor President Coolidge are planned for today in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. I wish I could be there.

cal cool grave


Below is the guest book for an event which took place on July 4, 1891, somewhere in Galesburg, Illinois. When I took a quick picture of it, in the archives of the Illinois Beta-Delta Chapter at Knox College, I was under the impression that it had been attended by Francis H. Sisson, a Beta Theta Pi from Knox’s Xi Chapter who would later serve as Beta Theta Pi’s National President. The Sisson Award was named in his honor. Upon closer examination, I noticed that there is no dot over what should have been an “i” and furthermore, I know all too well that the feminine spelling of the name has an “e.” The Sissons who attended this event were the Beta’s cousins, according to a family tree prepared by Cara Sutcliffe, a member of Pi Phi’s Grand Council. (For the story of the Sissons, Francis Hinckley, who would serve as Beta’s National President, and his wife Grace Lass Sisson who married the Beta during her tenure as Pi Phi’s Grand President, see



I love the graphic below and so I am “borrowing” this from something I wrote for the Pi Phi blog a few years ago. It’s about the convention which took place at the Inn at Charlevoix over July 4, 1918.

Pi Beta Phi’s 50th Anniversary Convention was to have taken place in 1917, but it was postponed due to the country’s entrance into World War I. When the convention finally took place a year later in Charlevoix, Michigan, many concessions were made. Due to wartime restrictions and rationing, there wasn’t a dedicated Pi Phi Express train to get Pi Phis there and meals were served family style on the advice of Grand President May Lansfield Keller.

On the morning of July 4, 1918, a patriotic program took place. An address by Eva Jones, Principal of Rupert’s Land Ladies College in Winnipeg, Canada, started the program. She was not a Pi Phi, it was noted in The Arrow, but her choice as speaker was explained, “For a long time the selection of a right speaker for the Fourth of July program troubled Grand Council. Then came the happy suggestion; ‘Why not ask our Canadian girls to select a representative Canadian woman to address us?’ It was certain that such a speaker would have a real message and the idea seemed most appropriate because England was planning to observe our national holiday for the first time in history. Everyone was charmed with the representative selected by our Canadian sisters and readily believed them when they declared they had secured for us ‘one of the foremost women speakers in all Canada.’”


It is a rather wet and rainy Fourth here in the midwest. I hope the weather is better for you. As you celebrate this holiday, please remember that freedom isn’t free.

© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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