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Cornell University

Feb 2nd, 1889

Founding Date

At the 1888 Convention, it had been decided that the Alpha chapter would “keep a close watch upon her neighbor, Cornell University and should a suitable opportunity show itself, to put forward effort in securing a good chapter there during the current year.” When the 1889 term opened, there were 220 female students at Sage College for Women at Cornell University, with three sororities on campus. Two Alpha chapter sisters, Lillian Blanche Root and Eloise Holden Nottingham were appointed to make a visit to Ithaca. Upon preparing for the trip, Blanche thought to contact her hometown friend, Charles Parshall, who was in his senior year at Cornell. Charles was more than happy to help, and he was there to meet Blanche and Eloise upon their arrival to Ithaca on January 12, 1889. He took them around campus and introduced them to several women students. The women hit it off immediately. It was a Saturday afternoon, February 2, 1889, when “seven girls, two juniors and five sophomores, were seen departing from Sage College dormitory. By different routes and at different times, they reached the Ithaca Hotel, where they were joined by two others, a senior and a freshman. Eighteen Alpha chapter delegates made the sixty-mile journey. The nine Cornell students met the Alpha chapter representatives in a private suite of the Ithaca Hotel. There, the initiation was performed, and Alpha Phi’s fifth chapter was installed. The New York Times saw the installation as news that was fit to print and reported on the event in detail, including providing the list of attendees. At the “sumptuous” banquet that followed the initiation, “the tables were decorated with bordeaux and gray” “and the viands were tempting.” Afterwards, the Times noted the group was “shown various points of interest around town.”