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Browse through the major trends and events in Alpha Phi's history since their founding in 1872. View the entire timeline, or filter the events to show only certain aspects, such as the history of philanthropic efforts or leadership milestones.

Alpha Phi Founded

Alpha Phi is founded by 10 young women at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

Sep 18th, 1872


Frances Willard Joins Alpha Phi

Temperance and women's suffrage leader Frances E. Willard becomes the first alumna initiate.


RELATED ITEM: Frances Willard Cabinet Card

First Convention

The first convention is held in Syracuse, New York. Seven delegates were in attendance: six Syracuse (Alpha) members and Jessie King (Beta-Northwestern).



First Chapter House Constructed

Alpha Chapter builds a chapter house at 207 University Place. They are the first women's fraternity in the country to build and occupy their own chapter house.


RELATED ITEM: First Alpha Chapter House Photograph

The Alpha Phi Quarterly Established

The Alpha Phi Quarterly, an award-winning magazine published continuously to the present day, is established.


RELATED ITEM: Alpha Phi Quarterly, January 1947 Front Cover

First Alumnae Chapters Chartered

Two alumnae chapters, Boston and Chicago, are officially chartered at the 1889 Convention.

Oct 11th, 1889


World's Columbian Exposition

The 1893 World's Fair, known as the World's Columbian Exposition, opens in Chicago.



Traveling Delegates Established

Alpha Phi becomes the first women's fraternity to use "traveling delegates," now known as Educational Leadership Consultants. Carrie Jones Sauber (Alpha-Syracuse) is the first such traveling delegate.



Plessy v. Ferguson

The United States Supreme Court issues a ruling on Plessy v. Ferguson, establishing the separate-but-equal doctrine.

May 18th, 1896


New Member Pin Adopted

The Alpha Phi new member pin, "to take the form of a silver or green enameled ivy leaf" engraved with the letters Alpha and Phi, is adopted at the 1898 Convention.


RELATED ITEM: Alpha Phi New Member Pin

Spanish-American War

The Spanish-American War begins with the U.S. intervening on the side of Cuba in the Cuban War of Independence. When the war ends, the United States temporarily controls Cuba and owns Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine islands. The Philippines does not gain independence until 1946. Puerto Rico and Guam remain U.S. possessions to this day.

Apr 21st, 1898 - Aug 13th, 1898


President McKinley Assassinated

President William McKinley is assassinated, and Theodore Roosevelt becomes U.S. president.

Sep 14th, 1901


Founders' Day Established


First Inter-Sorority Meeting

Alpha Phi calls the first inter-sorority meeting that resulted in the formation of the association now known as the National Panhellenic Conference.

May 24th, 1902


The First World Series

The Boston Americans beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series played in Major League Baseball.


First in Flight

The age of flight is born as the Wright brothers stage the first successful flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Dec 17th, 1903


Frances Willard Honored by Congress

Alpha Phi member Frances Willard is recognized by the U.S. Congress by placing a statue of her in Statuary Hall in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. She is the first woman to be recognized with such a statue.


RELATED ITEM: Jones, Selig, and Boyd with Wreath in Front of Frances Willard Statue Photograph, December 3, 1976

Uniform Badge Approved

The standard gold badge used today is approved at the 1906 Convention in Syracuse, New York.


RELATED ITEM: Elizabeth White Jackson Badge, 1940

The Model T

Ford begins producing the Model T.

Oct 1st, 1908


The Titanic

The British ocean liner RMS Titanic sinks.

Apr 15th, 1912


World War I

Jul 28th, 1914 - Nov 11th, 1918


The U.S. Enters World War I

The U.S. declares war on Germany, thus entering World War I.

Apr 6th, 1917


1918 Convention Cancelled

The 1918 Convention is cancelled due to World War I.




The 18th Amendment becomes law, making liquor, beer, and wine illegal. Prohibition continues until 1933.

Jan 16th, 1919


Votes for Women

After decades of speeches, rallies, parades, and women demanding the right to vote at the federal level, the U.S. Secretary of State certifies the ratification of the 19th Amendment, stating that no citizen could be denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. Twenty-six million women become voters.

Aug 26th, 1920


First National Executive Secretary and National Headquarters

After the creation of the position was approved at the 1920 Convention, Romaine Loar (Beta-Northwestern) becomes Alpha Phi's first National Executive Secretary and sets up the first National Headquarters office in New York City.



Endowment Fund Growth

By the 50th anniversary of Alpha Phi's founding, the fraternity had accumulated a $50,000 endowment fund. It was the first women's fraternity endowment fund to reach this milestone.


Crest Adopted


Chapter Housing Boom

With a housing shortage on college campuses, chapters began building, purchasing, or renting houses at an unprecedented rate.

1922 - 1929

RELATED ITEM: Alpha Original Walnut Place Chapter House Postcard, 1920s

Alpha Phi History Book Published

Alpha Phi publishes the first book-length history by a women's fraternity.

Oct 1st, 1922


Convention Newsletter Introduced

The Callisto, Alpha Phis' first Convention daily news sheet is introduced at the 1926 Convention.

Jun 21st, 1926

RELATED ITEM: Callisto of Alpha Phi, Vol. 1, No. 1, June 21, 1926

Headquarters Moved to Detroit

Fraternity headquarters moves to Detroit after the election of Ruth Abbott Jones. This would be the last time the headquarters would move with the election of a new International President, as had been the custom for several decades. The fraternity's headquarters would remain in Detroit until 1946.


First International Convention Destination

Alpha Phi holds its first convention outside the United States in Toronto, hosted by Xi Chapter and the Toronto Alumnae Chapters.

Jun 25th, 1928 - Jun 30th, 1928


The Great Depression

The Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasts from 1929-1939. At the beginning of the depression, 25 percent of the workforce is unemployed, and hourly wages drop 60 percent.

1929 - 1939

Black Tuesday

The U.S. stock market crashes, beginning the Great Depression.

Oct 29th, 1929


District Conventions Cancelled Due to Depression

District conventions are cancelled due to the effects of the Great Depression.


The End of Prohibition

The 21st Amendment passes, repealing the 18th Amendment and making alcohol legal once again.

Dec 5th, 1933


World War II

World War II sees more than 300,000 women serve in the military as part of the WACs, WAVEs and SPARs - including 250 Alpha Phis. Many other women join the workforce while the men go off to war.

Sep 1st, 1939 - Sep 2nd, 1945


Frances Willard Stamp

Frances E. Willard is portrayed on a U.S. postage stamp.


RELATED ITEM: Frances Willard Postage Stamp, 1940

Pearl Harbor Attack

The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and other U.S. possessions in the Pacific, prompting the United States to enter World War II.

Dec 7th, 1941


1942 Convention Cancelled

The 1942 Convention, which had been scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, is cancelled due to World War II.



District Conventions Cancelled Due to War

District conventions are cancelled due to World War II.



No Convention

No convention is planned or held in 1944 due to World War II.



Headquarters Moved to Evanston

The fraternity headquarters moves from Detroit to Evanston, Illinois - just north of Chicago - to a building at 317 Howard Street.


A Committee on Civil Rights

President Harry S. Truman appoints the Committee on Civil Rights to investigate the status of civil rights in the United States.




The U.S. and 11 other Western nations form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).



Headquarters Moved to Davis Street

The fraternity headquarters stays in Evanston, but moves to expanded quarters at 518-26 Davis Street.


RELATED ITEM: Alpha Phi Davis Street Office Photograph, c. 1950-1956

Korean War

The Korean War begins when Communist North Korean forces invade South Korea. Fighting ends when an armistice is signed on July 27, 1953, but the war never officially ends.

Jun 25th, 1950 - Jul 27th, 1953


Brown v. Board of Education

The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.


Death of Clara Bradley Burdette

Clara Bradley Burdette, the last living Founder of Alpha Phi, dies at the age of 98.

Jan 6th, 1954

RELATED ITEM: Dr. Burdette, 98, Dies: Oldest S.U. Graduate Newspaper Clipping, c. January 1954


The number of television sets in the United States is at 32 million, up from just 3.1 million in 1950.


Vietnam War

The undeclared war in Vietnam begins in 1955, lasting for 19 years.

Nov 1st, 1955 - Apr 30th, 1975

RELATED ITEM: Alpha Phi Foundation: Changing Women's Lives Brochure

Headquarters Moved to Foster Street

Fraternity headquarters, remaining in Evanston, moves to a two-story colonial house at 634 Foster Street.


RELATED ITEM: Doris Corbett in Automobile in Front of Foster Street Office Photograph


Sputnik, a Soviet satellite, is launched, beginning the Space Age.

Oct 4th, 1957


The Beatles

The Beatles, widely regarded as the most influential rock 'n' roll band, form in Liverpool.


U.S. Involvement in Vietnam Escalates

U.S. involvement in Vietnam escalates in 1960, with troop levels gradually surging from just under 1,000 in 1959 to more than 16,000 in 1963.

1960 - 1963


James Meredith Enrolled at Ole Miss

James Meredith, an African American, enrolls at the previously all-white University of Mississippi. The campus riots, and 13,500 federal troops are called in.



JFK Assassination

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

Nov 22nd, 1963


Commemorative Gavels Made

A hundred commemorative gavels are created from the cherry and birch stair railing of the first sorority house and are presented to collegiate chapters that they might serve as a "continued reminder of Alpha Phi ideals which have stayed so constant over the past years."


RELATED ITEM: First Alpha Chapter House Staircase Photograph

The Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed, ending segregation in public places and banning employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.


The Gulf of Tonkin

A U.S. destroyer allegedly clashes with a North Vietnamese fast-attack craft. In response, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gives President Lyndon B. Johnson broad authorization to increase U.S. military presence in Vietnam, deploying ground combat units for the first time and increasing troop levels from about 23,000 to 184,000.

Aug 2nd, 1964


Support for the Vietnam War Declines

South Vietnamese forces are unable to withstand the Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese in January and February of 1968, and U.S. forces have to defeat the North Vietnamese. The episode shows that the end of U.S. involvement is nowhere in sight, and domestic skepticism of the war increases.


Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination

Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Apr 4th, 1968


Man on the Moon

The Apollo 11 Mission puts a man on the moon.

Jul 20th, 1969


Kent State Protests

Student protests against the Vietnam War result in the killing of four students by the National Guard at Kent State University in Ohio.

May 4th, 1970


U.S. Congress Passes the ERA

The U.S. Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment, stating that, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or any state on account of sex." In order to become law, it must be ratified by 38 states within 10 years.


Title IX

Title IX is passed. An exception allows fraternities and sororities to remain single-sex private organizations.


Alpha Phi Centennial

Alpha Phi celebrates 100 years with events throughout the United States and Canada, culminating in the Centennial Convention in Arlington, Virginia.


RELATED ITEM: Alpha Phi International Fraternity Centennial Convention Program, June 16-21, 1972


Police arrest men attempting to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters, marking the beginning of the Watergate scandal.

Jun 17th, 1972


U.S. Troops Withdraw from Vietnam

The U.S. ends direct military involvement in Vietnam, but the war does not end for another two years.



President Nixon Resigns

Facing impeachment charges, President Richard Nixon becomes the first U.S. president to resign.

Aug 6th, 1974


Executive Offices Moved to Sherman Avenue

The executive offices move to their new home at 1930 Sherman Avenue. The building, built specifically as the executive offices of Alpha Phi, still serve as the Fraternity's home today.


RELATED ITEM: Alpha Phi Is Building Headquarters Newspaper Clipping, September 12, 1974

Fall of Saigon

Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, is captured, ending the Vietnam War.

Apr 30th, 1975


Women in the Air Force

The U.S. Air Force Academy admits its first female student.



Iran Hostage Crisis

A group of Iranian college students who support the Iranian Revolution take over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and hold 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Nov 4th, 1979 - Jan 20th, 1981


First Woman Appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.



MTV launches, featuring popular music videos.

Aug 1st, 1981


The ERA Fails

The Equal Rights Amendment fails, after being ratified by only 35 of the necessary 38 states.



First American Woman in Space

Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.



The Ozone Hole

A hole in the ozone layer is discovered.



RESPOND Introduced

RESPOND: A Forum for Supportive Action, an anti-victimization education program dealing with alcohol abuse, acquaintance rape, eating disorders, suicide, hazing, and harassment is introduced.


Challenger Shuttle

The Challenger Shuttle explodes after launch.

Jan 18th, 1986


Black Monday

Stock markets around the world crash, with the Dow Jones falling 508 points (22.61%).

Oct 19th, 1987


Risk Management Education Introduced

Risk management education is introduced to collegians.



Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall comes down, providing a symbolic end to the Cold War.

Nov 1989



The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) goes into effect.


AIDS Education

Alpha Phi introduces a peer education program for AIDS education.



Operation Desert Storm

The U.S. leads coalition forces in war against Iraq.


Fall of the Soviet Union

The Soviet Union collapses.



World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is born. In just two years, 3 million people are "on line." By 1998, that number increases to 100 million.



Alpha Phi Website

Alpha Phi becomes the first NPC member to have a website.


Oklahoma City Bombing

The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is bombed by a domestic terrorist. At least 168 people are killed, and more than 680 are injured. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history up to this point.

Apr 19th, 1995


Dolly the Sheep

Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be cloned.

Jul 5th, 1996


NASA Lands on Mars

American robotic spacecraft Pathfinder lands on Mars.



Columbine High School Massacre

Two students at Columbine High School commit a deadly massacre, killing 12 of their classmates and one teacher. It is the first high-profile school shooting.

Apr 20th, 1999


A New Millennium

Millennium celebrations take place all over the world as a new century is ushered in. Fears about Y2K turn out to be unfounded.

Jan 2000



Terrorists hijack airplanes and crash them into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. As a result of the attacks, 2,996 people are killed and more than 6,000 are injured, with others dying from complications in the coming years. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Sep 11th, 2001

War in Afghanistan

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan begins as an effort to remove the Taliban from power. While this goal is completed by the end of the year, U.S. and allied troops continue to fight Taliban insurgents for more than 18 years, and the war continues to this day.

Oct 7th, 2001

The iPod

Apple releases the iPod.

Oct 23rd, 2001


Current RFM Method Invented

Alpha Phi member Laura Malley-Schmitt (Zeta Phi - MIT) invents the RPC Alternative Method for Release Figures Management, which is now used for Panhellenic recruitment nationwide.



Department of Homeland Security Created


Iraq War

Believing Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, a U.S.-led coalition invades Iraq and overthrows the government of Saddam Hussein. Although it turns out that Iraq does not have the weapons, the conflict continues for much of the next decade as insurgents oppose the new U.S.-backed government.

Mar 20th, 2003 - Dec 18th, 2011


Devastating Hurricanes

Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma devastate the southern U.S. in the fall of 2005.



Leadership Institute Established

Alpha Phi becomes the first women's fraternity to develop a values-based leadership institute for emerging leaders based on women's developmental leadership theory.



Global Financial Crisis

A global financial crisis begins with a crisis in the subprime mortgage market in the U.S., and becomes a full-blown international crisis with the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. It is considered by many to be the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.

2007 - 2008

Virginia Tech Shooting

A massacre at Virginia Tech kills 32 people and wounds 23 others.

Apr 16th, 2007


Alpha Phi Podcast

Alpha Phi becomes the first NPC member to produce an educational podcast.


Barack Obama Elected

Barack Obama becomes the first African-American president of the United States.

Nov 4th, 2008


Arab Spring

A series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions spread across the Islamic world.

Dec 2010 - Dec 2012