Delta Chapter was founded at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana on October 12, 1872.
3,654 initiates (as of June 2018)
Delta is the oldest continous Chapter in Kappa Kappa Gamma, and her history is in part of the history of the National Fraternity. The environment of Delta always favored the prosperity and growth of the Chapter, located at a state university, where broader, more tolerant policies prevailed. Delta very early assumed a rank of influence in the Fraternity. The Fraternity is indebted to the records of Delta concerning the early forms of the Constitution and Standing Rules, as well as to the less formal documents the earliest alumnae have been able to furnish in the search for Kappa’s early historical data.
Alpha Chapter’s influence in the extending the Fraternity was unfortunately limited to a brief span of years. Therefore, it may be said that Delta Chapter is the chief cornerstone upon which the Fraternity has been built. Today, it still holds the title of oldest continuing Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma. It was early in the autumn of 1872 that two young girls at Indiana University formed a small group and applied to Alpha Chapter for a charter in Kappa Kappa Gamma. Lena Margaret Adams and Anna Mary Buskirk invited four other girls to join them: Lillie Buskirk, Ida Woodburn, Agnes and Louise Wylie, all of Bloomington. This group constituted the Founders of Delta Chapter. The name of Anna McCord also appears on the charter.
A letter written by Ida Woodburn-McMillan, ‘’Delta’’, says the following:
“In regard to the organization of Delta, Mrs. Anna Buskirk Hill and Mrs. Lena Adams Beck were the real organizers and I was ‘taken in’ later. There was a Mr. O. G. Brockett, now a minister in the United Presbyterian church, who took his freshman year at Indiana University, and his remaining three years at Monmouth, graduating in 1875. The girls wrote to him about the fraternities at Monmouth, knowing there were two there, Kappa and I.C. Sorosis, now Pi Beta Phi. He wrote them that the Kappas had the ‘nicest girls’ and gave them Anna Willits’ name, and she and Anna Buskirk did all the corresponding. After they completed all of their arrangements, they decided on the other girls for their Chapter.”
At the time, the young girls did not travel about unattended with the freedom and frequency that are privileges of the modern woman. Therefore, no members came from Alpha Chapter to install the new Chapter. All arrangements were made by letter, and the initiation was conducted by the same means. Great caution was observed in this correspondence to safeguard the secrets of the order. The oath was sent to Delta in cipher, followed by the key to the cipher. Then the Greek words and the Greek motto were transmitted in the same manner.
Anna Buskirk writes of the event as follows:
“When Delta was organized, the whole procedure was very primitive. An oath was sent to us in cipher, --later a ‘key’ followed. After deciphering it, we signed it and returned it to Alpha. Then the Greek words of the name and motto were sent in cipher. Imagine the joy of untangling Greek words by cipher! The charter cost us $1.00 also. Kappa Alpha Theta was established at IU some time before Kappa, and the chapter was composed of older girls or women. Our charter members were girls of sixteen and seventeen.”… “In spite of the strength, age, and experience of Theta, we were at once recognized as a power in college life, and were very successful in gaining positions and honors. We assessed ourselves ten cents each a month for entertaining. This does not imply that Delta entertained in a mean way, for we gave some elaborate functions but there was always someone ready to pay the bills.” … “Kappa’s Record speaks of ‘dominant Delta,’ and I do think Delta’s strength and influence at this time should be given greater notice, for the whole organization as it came to us was very simple.”
Naturally, enough matters moved somewhat slowly, as the letters from Alpha did not always arrive promptly. Although since October that had been frequent meetings of the group, the first official business meeting of the Chapter was not held until January 2, 1873. This meeting was held at the home of Ida Woodburn, and Anna Buskirk was elected as first president of the Chapter. On February 4, 1873, the girls appeared wearing their badges for the first time in public.
The so-called Red Book, which contains the minutes of the first and subsequent meetings down to December 1889, is one of the most treasured possessions of Delta Chapter. It is a large, heavy ledger, handsomely bound in leather, with the letters KKΓ stamped in gold on the cover. The book is well preserved, as it is now located in the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Archives in Columbus, Ohio. The ink of the earlier entries is brown and faded with age, but it is still legible. These pages constitute a priceless record of the early meetings besides shedding illumination upon the life and interest of the college woman during that time period. Yet, if at times the Delta members seemed to take themselves seriously, it is plainly written between the lines of the Red Book that they were, after all, perfectly normal, fun loving girls; as the entry reads: “all members were present this evening, and it was with great difficulty that the president preserved order.”
The early members of Delta Chapter were young girls, sixteen and seventeen years of age. They were of keen intelligence and aware of the advantages afforded to them by the opportunity to secure a college education, then a newly acquired privilege of the women of the state. It was only five years previous to the founding of the Chapter that the Board of Trustees had granted admission of women to the university. It was by the narrow margin of four votes to three that the doors were opened to women in 1868, and Indiana University was the first state university in the Union to take this revolutionary step.
In their weekly meetings, held at the home of the various members, emphasis was placed upon the literary programs. Essays, declamations, debates, and select readings occupied most of the time. Certain members were appointed to criticize the performances. During these years, the literary clubs in college played an important part in Greek letter life, particularly the one for women called The Hesperian. Delta had a by-law to the effect that all performances which were to be given in public, in oratorical contests, should be rehearsed previously in Chapter meetings where they were listened to attentively and criticized when necessary. The subjects chosen for essays were diverse and comprehensive. At one time, the Chapter seriously contemplated the writing of the constitution and initiatory service in Greek, but this ambitious project was abandoned.
The girls paid one dollar for their charter, and their initiation fee was also one dollar. Members were assessed ten cents a month for chapter expenses. The initiation fee remained one dollar until September, 1891, when it was increased to five dollars.
It was the anti-fraternity legislation which crippled the life of Alpha Chapter, despite all the loyalty and ambition of the brave young founders. It was not strange, therefore, that the reins of the government and the power of greater influence fell from the hands of Alpha to Delta in the Convention of 1876. Delta was the Grand Chapter from 1876 to 1878.
In October, 1876, a general Fraternity meeting was convened in Greencastle, Indiana, under the auspices of Iota Chapter. This Convention, commonly called the second, really was the first Convention of the Fraternity. Anna Buskirk, ‘’Delta’’, presided as Grand President. Only a handful of young, inexperienced girls met, totally ignorant of parliamentary law. They must have been divinely guided, for now they began to realize the meaning of the Fraternity in its deeper, truer sense. At that Convention, the Constitution and By-Laws were practically reconstructed and an initiation ceremony, offered by Delta, was adopted.
The minutes of September 6, 1878, record the vote to have a monthly paper called The Golden Key. Not to be confused with the official publication of the Fraternity, it was on February 7, 1879, before “The Kappas listened with sisterly pride” to the first number. The Spectator, a term paper, contributed by all of the girls, was first issued in January, 1884. Its appearance became an established practice with Delta Chapter.
In 1881, Delta has the honor of entertaining the fourth National Convention, held in nearby French Lick. Delta selected and proposed the two blues for the Fraternity colors, and they were accepted nationally. These colors are typical of the “true blue” character and noble womanhood of Kappa. Delta’s design for the Fraternity official seal was also accepted.
Individual members of Delta wrote several songs which are still in the Kappa Song Book. Knocking Song, has stood the test of time, as has the Greeting Song. Members of Delta Chapter helped install Iota and Mu Chapters, their Indiana neighbors.
The Delta Chapter House Board, the Delta Association of Kappa Kappa Gamma, was incorporated in 1909.
Delta has outgrown her living quarters several times over the years. The first Chapter house was rented in 1892. In 1912, a Chapter house was purchased, and the final payment was made on the property in 1919. In this same year, the Chapter was awarded the Scholarship Cup by the Panhellenic Association.
Delta did their share of war work. Many of the girls enrolled in the recently organized Red Cross classes and knitted. More knitted articles were turned in at the Red Cross Shop by Kappa than by any other organization. Every girl found time almost daily to stop at the campus Red Cross to help make surgical dressings. In the Spring of 1918, Delta members devised a plan of having each girl do two hours a week of war work aside from knitting. Some of the girls worked in the "Better Babies" campaign, some of them did the sewing for French children, which was managed by the Y.W.C.A, but the most popular line of work was the making of surgical dressings. There were several times when the Kappas crowded the room so much that the cut-out material ran out. Besides this work, the Chapter bought materials and made a layette for a Bellevue baby.
The Delta Chapter supported many organizations financially, including $50 to the Y.M.C.A, $20 to the Knights of Columbus, and large amounts to the Red Cross, beside individual subscriptions. The Chapter also bought two Liberty Bonds.
Delta Chapter celebrated their 50th anniversary in the spring of 1919. Kappas from nearly every class back to the founding were there as they were entertained at the house during Centennial Week. A banquet was held in which all of the actives and alumnae were present.
In July, 1922, Delta Chapter realized that she had outgrown her home again. Backed by a loyal body of alumnae, Delta set out to build a new castle. The Chapter lived in a temporary home while the house was being built. The new home was ready for its homecoming by Thanksgiving, 1925. It is of English Gothic architecture in light brick and stone. Standing on a hill, one hundred feet back from the street, it makes an imposing appearance. The house was built, furnished, and landscaped at the cost of eighty thousand dollars.
A number of traditions had grown, including four social events—a fall dance during the football season, a lovely “Snowball Formal” at the end of Christmas vacation, a costume of feature dance put on by the new members before spring vacation, and a spring rush formal in May. The “Snowball Formal” was the most elaborate, and always followed the same decorative scheme—the reception hall dripping with silver icicles, and a huge snowball, which was shattered during the evening to release myriads of tiny snowballs with which the dancers pelted one another.
During the spring semester of 1929, a scholarship banquet was instituted at the suggestion Virginia Rodefer, former National Vice-President and national scholarship chairman, who was present at the first banquet. Guests of honor are the four girls whose names are engraved on the four loving cups, one for each of the classes, as having the highest average for the preceding semester, and the active with the highest average, who wore the scholarship key of Delta.
The scholarship key has an interesting history. It is a beautiful old key, of the period when the badge was exceptionally large and thin, which belonged to a member of Epsilon Chapter. It was rescued from a sale after the death of its owner, Nellie Baldwin, Indiana, of Greenfield, Indiana. Mrs. Beck bought the key from Mrs. Baldwin and presented it to Delta as a scholarship award. The first awarding was made during the visit of National President, Georgia Hayden, “Wisconsin”, in 1928. She also presented the Chapter with a golden “Delta” guard to make the heirloom safe.
Another project was the publication of The Delta News, a four-page sheet of news and feature stories, sent to the entire alumnae mailing list. The paper was financed by donations from alumnae.
At the Commencement of 1929 Lena Adams Beck, Delta’s beloved charter member, was given one of the highest honors ever accorded an alumna of Indiana University. At the annual alumnae breakfast, an announcement was made of the establishment of the Lena Adams Beck scholarship loan fund, as a tribute to Mrs. Beck’s interest in the cause of education of women.
Convention Awards: 1936: Standards Cup
In 1933, the chapter received a gavel made from wood from its first owned house; and in December of 1934, oil portraits of charter members Lena Adams Beck and Anna Buskirk Hill were gifts of the House Board.
In an article about Delta in The Key, 1955, Dr. Herman B. Wells, then president of Indiana University, wrote about the Chapter’s traditionally high scholarship, its participation in extracurricular activities, and its leadership on campus. The associate dean of students mentioned Delta’s participation, cooperation, and spirit.
High scholarship has always marked Delta. Between 1951 and 1965, the chapter placed first, second or third among sororities on campus for 28 out of 33 semesters. Through the years, many chapter members have been inducted into Mortar Board, and Phi Beta Kappa. Chapter records show continuous participation in campus activities. Two members, Judy Roberts (Morris), (1952) and Lesley Bush (Hickcox), (1964 and 1968), have represented the United States on the Olympic swim teams.
Nearly every Fraternity President has visited Delta, but a high point was when six Fraternity officers were entertained in November of 1957, and Delta’s 84-year-old Red Book and an 82-year-old badge were presented to Fraternity Headquarters. The priceless Red Book contains Delta minutes from the first meeting on January 2, 1873, to November 22, 1889. The badge was once worn by Kate Hight who was initiated in 1875. These treasures, as well as a hand-decorated ritual book and other chapter memorabilia were on display at the Centennial Convention, and are now at Headquarters.
Beryl Showers Holland served as Adviser Board Chairman and House Board Chairman for nearly 50 years. In the late 1950s, a new living room was named for her, and in 1964, the Advisory Board established as award in her name to be given annually to the senior exemplifying Kappa standards and spirit.
Most of the previous information was excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1930 and The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1976. The information that follows has been gleaned from available resources including Chapter History Reports, chapter meeting minutes, letters and comments from chapter members and alumnae, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity Archives, and The Key. Each chapter is expected to update its history record annually. Contact Fraternity Headquarters at [email protected] with questions.
The 1960s and 1970s were remarkable for student pressures and changes in attitude, including a changing attitude toward the Greek system. Although membership remained fairly stable, several Greek-letter organizations left the campus, and Greek membership dropped to about 14 percent. In the spring 1971 issue of Your University, sent to all Indiana University alumni, a feature article made these comments: “Returning alumni often find fraternity life unrecognizable. Hazing is a thing of the past, Homecoming floats and queens are irrelevant … . The change in fraternities and sororities is not surprising, nor is it evidence … that the Greek system is facing its demise … . Changing times require that systems and institutions change … . Today’s students are more serious … correspondingly the trend now is toward shorter pledgeships, dealing with personal development and university orientation rather than fraternity history.” In the same article, Associate Dean of Students Virginia Hudelson Rogers, BL—Illinois, was quoted as saying, “Fraternities and sororities will not survive on fellowship alone. They must also have a lifestyle which is complementary to the academic life of the university, and which is stimulating both culturally and academically.”
Delta celebrated its centennial in October of 1972, which marked 100 years of leadership standing at Indiana University. Actives and alumnae joined over a year in advance to plan Delta’s 100th birthday. Centennial activities were reported in The Key, Winter, 1972. At the banquet, a $3,000 scholarship in rehabilitation was presented by Marjorie Matson Converse, Purdue, then Vice-President of the Fraternity, on behalf of the Fraternity. It was accepted by John W. Ryan, president of Indiana University, who noted, “the integral function of Kappa Kappa Gamma has played in the history of this university.” Other gifts included $2,500 to the Indiana University Art Museum and $1,500 to the Department of Speech and Audiology.
On this great occasion, attended by more than 200 actives and alumnae, Dr. Doris Seward was toastmistress. She wore her first college formal, a red velvet gown. At this banquet, which ended two days of activities honoring Kappa’s oldest continuous chapter, appreciation plates for outstanding service were presented to Delta advisers Joanne Reed Darby, Cecilia Hendricks Whal, and Fluerette McMillan Benckart, and to chapter President Patricia Haddock, who later became a Field Secretary (now Leadership Consultant). Memorabilia were presented to the Fraternity.
The 1972 Convention, held in Hollywood, Florida, opened with a special tribute to Delta, a sight-and-sound show arranged by Jean Hess Wells, DU—Georgia, Director of Chapters. At the close of Convention, the Chapter received the Pledge Training Award and the May Whiting Westermann Efficiency Award.
Delta’s growth parallels the university’s expansion. The 190 students of 1872 had grown to nearly 31,000 by 1973, and all regional campus enrollment made that number 67,488. During its first 100 years, 1,807 women were initiated into Delta Chapter.
The years of 1980-1984 were years of heavy involvement on campus and within the Greek community for the Delta Chapter. The Chapter participated in many philanthropic events such as IU Sing, Derby Days, and the Panhellenic Greek Olympics and brought home four first place trophies. In addition, many girls held leadership positions within many organizations on campus. Between eighteen and twenty girls were active members on IU Foundation with at least one on the steering committee each year and many Kappas were on athletic teams such as IU Track and Tennis. The Kappa Pickers had a presence each year performing at Bloomington, Columbus, and Indianapolis venues. However, though the Chapter was very involved on campus, they still strove to maintain a very high academic standard. It was noted that the Chapter goal was scholarship each year and that the average GPA of the new inductees was to be a 3.6.
Rush was postponed in 1984 due to the cold holiday season. Many sororities were left with no heat and broken pipes, including the Delta Chapter. To compensate for the misfortune, the Chapter re-vamped their skit to "KKG Putting on the Ritz." Return percentages increased every party and rush turned out to be a great success.
January 1986, Delta chapter received a gift of $20,000 from Bernice Byrum Kimball to establish the Byrum Scholarship Fund.
Some notable individual achievements of chapter members from the mid 1980's:
Delta added 38 new members in the beginning of 1989, bringing the chapter membership to over 100 women. Chapter activities in 1989 included participating in I.U. Sing, the mini 500 tricycle race, the women’s 500 bike race and intramurals. Delta also held two formal scholarship dinners. The 1989 chapter goal was “Appreciation + Involvement = Kappa Sisterhood”. Involvement was evident as chapter members belonged to many campus organizations, such as the Student Athletic Board, Panhellenic, Singing Hoosiers, IU Ballet Theatre, ROTC and the Student Alumni Council.
Philanthropy: From 1980-1984, many chapters on the IU campus started new philanthropies in an effort to get more involved as a Greek community. Kappas not only participated in the events, but began their own philanthropy in efforts to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. They sold cards and balloons during the week of Little 500. It was a great success.
In the spring of 1989, Delta chapter once again made Easter baskets for hospitalized children. The chapter held their annual pancake breakfast that fall, which raised over $450 for the American Lupus Society. The Delta 1989 pledge class philanthropic activity was to spend one night a week helping abused and neglected children and the Middle Way house in Bloomington.
University-wide reform of Indiana University’s greek system took place during the 1990s. The Dean of Students, Michael Gordon, presented a draft of 19 minimum standards for each greek chapter. The new standards dealt with academics, rush, greek government, racial and cultural diversity, national house policies, local chapter management, and health and safety issues. The new standards were implemented January 1, 1990. The greek community, including Delta chapter, supported the dean’s motion for change.
In 1992 sororities planned more expansion on IU campus. Four new sororities had been added between 1989 and 1993 to accommodate all students who wanted to be apart of the greek community. There was one Hispanic fraternity on campus in 1992 and four new historically black fraternities and four historically black sororities added to Indiana Unversity’s campus.
Recruitment became more competitive in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In order to accommodate all the interested students, many sororities and fraternities joined Indiana University’s campus.
Delta’s activities in 1990 and 1991 were very similar to those of 1989. The chapter once again participated in I.U. Sing, homecoming, senior week, intramurals and the 500 Tricycle and 500 Bicycle races. Delta pledged 40 new members in January 1990, and 36 new members in 1991, and held their Christmas Formal at the end of each year in Indianapolis. The 1990 chapter goal was “Do your part……whether learning, leading or through the heart”. Involvement on campus and within the chapter were stressed. The 1990 chapter history report includes a long list of activities that sisters were involved in, inlcuding: the Interior Design Society, Sports Marketing Club, I.U. Student Nurses Association, Campus Crusade for Christ and Habitat for Humanity.
The 1991 Delta chapter goal was “ Take a R.I.S.K = Ritual, Involvement, Scholarship and Kappa Sisterhood”. The chapter history report for this year states that the chapter ritual improved tremendously in 1991, and that the chapter moved up 7 spots in the all sorority scholastic rankings in 1991.
In April 1993, Delta was proud to host the biennial Delta Province meeting. The chapter was fortunate to receive a generous donation of $10,000 in the will of Miss Lillian Harris who died in September 1995. She was initiated in 1917. Delta was also proud to win Chapter of the Year on the I.U. campus in 1996.
In 1997, Delta pledged 48 women for a chapter total of 104 members. The chapter’s participation in the campus wide I.U. Sing and the Little 500 Bicycle race was consistent in the 1990’s. This year was also the 125th anniversary of Delta Chapter, and the chapter hosted a reception at the chapter house in September 1997, inviting alumnae and distinguished guests.
The chapter hosted a traveling consultant in early 1997 who noted that the chapter was strong in leadership, Panhellenic and Public Relations, but that work was needed in the areas of scholarship, and especially in Risk Management.
It is fitting that the 1997 chapter goal was to raise the chaper GPA to 3.15 and to strengthen the chapter’s risk management focus. Per the 1997 chapter report, Delta Chapter was successful in both efforts. The chapter won the Little 500 Bicycle Race in 1998 (and again in 1999!), and moved from 9th to 6th (out of 25 sororities) academically. However, in 1999, the chapter was placed on Letter of Concern, and received additional support from the Fraternity to improve in the areas of sisterhood and ritual. Tragically, Delta chapter also had to deal with the death of one of its active members in 1999.
Housing: The chapter had a new house director in the Fall of 1998, Andria Naugle, who came to the chapter from Purdue. Andria was selected at the House Mom of the year at IU in 1999.
Philanthropy: In 1990, Delta continued their traditions of making Easter Baskets for hospitalized children, and hosting their annual pancake breakfast. Money raised from the 1990 pancake breakfast was given to The Girls and Boys Club of Bloomington. The Kappas and the Delts co-sponsored a philanthropy event called Kids Olympics for the first time in 1990.
In 1996, 1997 and 1998, the Delta Kappas paired with Pi Kappa Alpha to sponosor a 5K walk/run to raise money for the Rape Crisis Center.
In the fall of 1998, the chapter held their first Jazz and Java event to benefit the Bloomington Hospital Breast Health Center. The event featured a Jazz pianist along with coffee and hors d’oeuvres. Jazz and Java was held again in 1999. That same year, the chapter won the award for the Best Philanthropy at the Greek Awards Night at IU.
Chapter Convention Awards: Most Improved Scholarship award at the 1994 Convention. This was for moving from up from 18th to 3rd on the IU campus in only one year.
Honorable Mention at 1998 Convention for Gracious Living and for Chapter/Advisory Board Relations.
The year 2005 was a memorable year for Delta Chapter. In January the chapter welcomed 45 great girls into the new pledge class. The chapter was paired with Phi Kappa Sigma for IU Sing, which took place during Mom’s weekend. Kappa and Phi Kappa Sigma took home 3rd place. A Delta/Sigma Pi team participating in the Little 500 bike race also came in 3rd place, and they rode in memory of sister Ashley Crouse who had been tragically killed that week in a car accident.
At the end of the spring 2005 term, Delta chapter president Andrea Whitehead won President of the Year on the IU campus.
In 2006, the chapter won the Little 500 race for the 5th time! The chapter archives display for this year (and 2007) was centered around this event, and the chapter’s trophies and memorabilia from past races. In the fall on 2006 and 2007, the chapter carried on their tradition of having a chapter retreat, and hosting a Dad’s Weekend for their fathers. The chapter report 2006 shares that the chapter worked to improved the chapter GPA and the chapter knowledge of ritual. They were successful as Delta ended the year ranked in the top 3 on campus academically. The focus in 2007 was to better learn the songs associated with Kappa ritual.
Delta Chapter was proud to win the Greek Award of Excellence on the IU campus in 2009. In 2009 and 2010 they also continued their participation in the Little 500 bike race and IU Dance Marathon. By the end of this decade, the number of sororities on the IU campus was down to 19 (from 25 at the end of the 1990s). In 2009, the chapter had 156 members, and was ranked second on campus academically in 2010.
Philanthropy: In the fall of 2005, the chapter raised $677,415 for the Riley Children’s Hospital, through the IU Dance Marathon, in honor and memory of sister Ashley Crouse. The chapter participated in the IU Dance Marathon again in 2006, coming in 2nd in fundraising among the greek houses on campus.
Chapter Convention Awards:
2002: Greatest Scholarship Improvement Honorable Mention, Recruitment Honorable Mention, Greatest Improvement Honorable Mention, Finance Honorable Mention
2006: Signature Event Honorable Mention, Finance Honorable Mention, Chapter/Advisory Board Relations Honorable Mention