On May 17, 1902, Alpha Phi National President Margaret Mason Whitney sent postcards to the women who were scheduled to attend the first meeting on May 24, 1902.
Inter-sorority Conference, Chicago
On May 24 (Saturday) at 2:30 p.m. (sharp) the following representatives of Greek letter national college fraternities will meet at Mandel’s Tea Room to discuss rushing and pledging.
Pi Beta Phi, Miss Gamble, Detroit, Mich
Kappa Alpha Theta, Miss Laura Norton, 2556 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago
Kappa Kappa Gamma, Miss Margaret Jean Paterson, 6117 Kimbark Ave.
Delta Gamma, Miss Nina F. Howard, Glencoe, Ill.
Gamma Phi Beta, Miss Lillian Thompson, 326 W. 61st Place
Delta Delta Delta, Miss Kellerman
Alpha Phi, Miss Ruth Terry, 1812 Hinman Ave., Evanston
We trust nothing will prevent your being present.
Margaret Mason Whitney, President Alpha Phi
Two of the organizations which were issued invitations, Chi Omega and Alpha Chi Omega, were indeed unable to be present. Typhoid Fever kept the Chi Omega National President from attending. Both organizations sent representatives to the 1903 meeting.
The National Panhellenic Conference, the umbrella organization of 26 women’s fraternities and sororities, turns 114 this year. Lillian W. Thompson, Gamma Phi Beta, served as Chairman at the 1913 meeting. She also attended the 1902 meeting and shared her experiences in an article in the Crescent of Gamma Phi Beta. It was reprinted in many of the other magazines in 1913.
This sort of meeting was quite new to me. I had only the vaguest idea of what the delegates were expected to do; and having been brought up in the good old school in which those who were not of were against us, I had no great desire to meet my friends the enemy. There was no time to debate, however, and nothing to do but to go, so one afternoon in September, I entered the lunch room at Mandels’ looking for a group of women wearing fraternity pins. I easily found them, introduced myself, and then racked my brains for topics of conversation which should be both polite and safe; for I had a most uneasy feeling that some fraternity secret might escape me unawares, and fall into hostile hands.
The group moved from Mandels’ to the site of the meeting itself.
Miss [Minnie Ruth] Terry, the delegate from Alpha Phi, whose duty it was to make all the arrangements, had found a most appropriate place for our meeting — a safety deposit vault; and before long we were admitted through heavy iron gratings to a long passage way, which led at last to a director’s room, closed by a massive wooden door which seemed amply able to keep the biggest secrets from escaping to the outer world. We all sat down at the big table, and for the first few minutes there seemed to be a be a vague feeling of insecurity — of suspense. We were waiting, I think, for that illusive, and yet most potent thing, ‘the tone of the meeting’ to be established, and until some one supplied it we were ill at ease. This duty fell to Miss Terry, our chairman, and as I look back on that first meeting, I can plainly see that the whole Pan-Hellenic movement was given its successful start by her. Miss Terry is one of those calm, well balanced, fair-minded women, who state business in such a clear unbiased way that one feels impelled at once to consider things without prejudice. Gradually we all warmed to the work, forgot our strangeness, and talked over Alpha Phi’s rushing agreement with the utmost interest and frankness. Before we left, a most friendly spirit had developed; we had enjoyed our afternoon, saw plenty of work ahead of us, and looked forward with pleasure to meeting again.
In a year or so, the director’s room became too small for us. A morning meeting was added to the afternoon session, and we decided to meet at a hotel and to take lunch together, that we might have more opportunity to get acquainted. By this time I had begun to discover a number of ‘typical Gamma Phis’ who had mysteriously strayed into other fraternities. The discussions, too, had been bringing out the strong points of the various societies….At each meeting we learned some scheme which we longed to try in our own fraternity, and went home full of plans for introducing it.
With 11 years of experiences on which to reflect, she added:
As year after year went by, we were delighted to see the work of our conference succeeding, though slowly. Our own meetings seemed like the chapter meetings of some fraternity, rather than a gathering of delegates from so many different groups. It is astonishing to me, as I look back, to note the unruffled peace and good will of our conferences. Even when there were disputes to settle, there was no bitterness or suspicion. Everyone knew that every one else was trying to find out what was best and how to do it. This feeling of kindliness and confidence has been the greatest result of our meetings. If we can pass this on to the fraternity world, we shall have done the one thing necessary to remove all criticisms of fraternities.
*For more about Ivy Kellerman Reed, Ph.D., Tri Delta’s representative, see http://wp.me/p20I1i-dj.
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