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HistoryIT | We Give History A Future

Story #1: The First Convention

In celebration of Alpha Phi’s 150th Anniversary in 2022, we proudly share stories and moments that have created the legacy of sisterhood originally launched by our ten founders and which we still hold dear today.

This is story 1 of 150.

1882: The year of the first Alpha Phi Convention.

Held 10 years after the founding of Alpha Phi at Syracuse, the Alpha Phi Convention was originally an annual gathering. Our first Convention came about from a desire to create a more formal connection and governance between the Alpha (Syracuse) and Beta (Northwestern) chapters. Sisters called the Convention the next logical step in creating a more robust fraternity, emphasizing that the east and the west could now “in love’s own behest, join hands in union and firm loyalty.”

Six members of the Alpha chapter and one delegate from the Beta chapter were in attendance at the Convention in June at Syracuse. After an opening song and prayer, the group reviewed rules for establishing new chapters and approved an annual “tax” on collegiate members. Committees were formed to discuss topics like finance, charters and the exploration of developing an annual Alpha Phi publication.

They also elected five officers who formed the Fraternity Board, including Carrie Benjamin Shevelson (Alpha-Syracuse), who was chosen as Fraternity president and Emma Meserve (Beta-Northwestern), who was the Fraternity vice president. Ida Young (Alpha-Syracuse) was elected corresponding secretary, while Alpha Phi founders Martha Foote Crow (Alpha-Syracuse) became recording secretary and Kate Hogoboom Gilbert (Alpha-Syracuse) was named treasurer.

1896: Conventions moved from annual events to biennial gatherings. 

Today: Over the years, Conventions have evolved to become multi-day events.

The Conventions celebrate success across the Fraternity and Foundation, while still making time for member development, sharing of best practices and connecting as a sisterhood. Currently, the Alpha Phi Biennial Convention draws an average of 550 attendees.

Pictured: An excerpt from a letter from Minnie R. Moulding (Beta-Northwestern) to the Alpha chapter, dated April 13, 1882, in which she discusses plans for the Convention.