Friday, November 11, 2011

Gamma Phi Beta Founder's Day: November 11, 1874

Happy Birthday to the women of Gamma Phi Beta! The sorority was founded on this day in 1874 at Syracuse University in New York.

The term "sorority"from the latin meaning "sisterhood" was coined in 1882 in reference to Gamma Phi Beta. Prior to this, other Greek organizations for women were refered to as "women's fraternites" or "fraternities for women."

Gamma Phi Beta was founded by these four women: (information taken from the website of Gamma Phi Beta Headquarters at

Four Founders

Helen DodgeThe Scholar Helen Mary Dodge Ferguson was a talented musician and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her chief interest was the mission work sponsored by her church. Helen died in 1937, leaving a substantial bequest to Syracuse University for scholarships for members of Gamma Phi Beta. Her love of learning has endeared her as the scholar of the four.

Frances HavenThe Artist Frances "Fannie" Elizabeth Haven Moss entered Northwestern University, where her father was president, as one of the first female students. After he was named chancellor of Syracuse University, she transferred to Syracuse. Frances later moved with her husband to Illinois where she was instrumental in establishing Omicron Chapter (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). She was also the only Founder to have a daughter join Gamma Phi Beta. An accomplished artist, many of Frances' original watercolor paintings are on display at International Headquarters.

The Friend Eunice Adeline "Addie" Curtis graduated from Syracuse with a bachelor's degree in music. She was the soprano soloist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Syracuse for 33 years and had a son, Edward, with her husband, Frank Curtis. Addie was described by others as kind and generous to a fault, always cheerful, always sympathetic, the most charitable person who ever lived and deeply loved. In a word: friend.

The World Traveler Mary "Minnie" Alice Bingham Willoughby graduated from Syracuse with a degree in fine arts. She was a world traveler, having accompanied her parents to numerous sites in Europe. Minnie and Helen were the only Founders able to continue their close association after their college years, as both lived in Utica, New York. Minnie is described as having "a delight in all things that led to a cultural life," and a "pride in all conduct that led to the beauty of knowledge."

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