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University of Minnesota

Sep 15th, 1890

Founding Date

Henrietta Coone (Beta-Northwestern) had already played a significant role in the founding of Gamma chapter. Upon graduating from Northwestern in 1887, she taught for a year at a high school in Jacksonville, Illinois, before moving to Minneapolis to assume a position at Central High School. Just two years earlier, at the Sixth Annual Alpha Phi Convention, delegates had identified the University of Minnesota as a possible candidate for a new chapter, and now Henrietta was in a position to make good on the plan. She soon began to mentor a group of her brightest female students, encouraging their academic development and helping them start a club called “Maids of Athens.” The group—complete with password, grip, colors, and even a club ring “adorned with a setting of forget-me-nots in blue enamel”—met regularly, and hosted a variety of social gatherings. But under Henrietta’s guidance, they also focused on scholarship, undertaking some “heavy reading,” which included essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson. As the high school class of 1890 prepared to graduate, Henrietta finally revealed to the members of the Maids of Athens the meaning of the pin she always wore. Henrietta had been working to cultivate a number of students at the University of Minnesota, and soon she arranged a tea where the high school students met their future university classmates. Soon it was time for the common cause to be officially chartered in a new chapter of Alpha Phi. On September 15, 1890, Henrietta was joined by three of her Beta chapter sisters, Mary Moore, Olive Finley, and Ida Staver Moulding. The group assembled in “private parlors” of the Holmes Hotel in Minneapolis, and there, “the mysteries of Alpha Phi were disclosed and Epsilon chapter duly launched.” A banquet, co-hosted by members of the newly chartered Chicago Alumnae Chapter, was held in the “Ladies Ordinary.” According to Henrietta, the “new chapter of Alpha Phi was most cordially received by the Greek world at the university, many students, members of the various fraternities, expressing themselves as highly pleased that Alpha Phi had concluded to join their ranks.