OUR LEGACY BEGAN ON NOVEMBER 11, 1874 HERE AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY WHEN OUR 4 FOUNDERS CREATED THE FIRST EVER SORORITY - GAMMA PHI BETA.
SU was founded in 1871, and in 1872 the University began to admit women. In that year, nineteen women were enrolled. Three of the nineteen women went on to form the women's fraternity, Alpha Phi, to create an organization for the small number of women at the University.
In 1874, the University asked Dr. Erastus O. Haven to serve as the University's chancellor. Chancellor Haven believed very much so in the education of women, and thus, brought his daughter, Frances, with him to Syracuse.
After enrolling in the University, Frances was shortly thereafter extended an invitation to join Alpha Phi, but declined. Frances soon met a group of women who shared the same ideals and goals. These women decided to form their own organization, soon to be known as Gamma Phi Beta.
The Four Founders (Helen M. Dodge, Frances E. Haven, E. Adeline Curtis and Mary A. Bingham) held their first meeting on November 11, 1874. The minutes of the meeting stated that Miss Dodge was appointed to draft a Constitution and also that Helen Dodge and Frances Haven asked Dr. Haven for a suitable motto and name. In the following meeting on November 16, the name Gamma Phi Beta was voted upon, and the vote was unanimous.
The badge was later designed with the help of Charles M. Cobb and Charles M. Moss, which would bear the Hebrew word and the three letters. Later, the badge would be voted the most Beautiful Sorority Badge by Tiffany & Co.
The Beta chapter of Gamma Phi Beta was installed at the University of Michigan in 1882, at which point Syracuse faculty member, Dr. Frank Smalley, coined the term ‘sorority’ specifically for the organization. Gamma Phi Beta currently has 171 active collegiate chapters in both the United States and Canada, as has initiated over 170,000 members.
We are over the moon to celebrate 143 years of sisterhood at SU this upcoming November 2017!