Our History


Alpha Chi Omega was founded on October 15, 1885, at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. At a time when women were just beginning to occupy seats in college classrooms, seven female students were encouraged by Professor James Hamilton Howe, dean of DePauw’s School of Music, to form a women’s society within the school.

Inspired, our Founders formed the 10th women’s fraternity in the country—the first to be in a music school. Sure they would be the last, the Founders chose "Alpha" and "Omega"—the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet—to form their name, with “Kai” (meaning “and”) in the middle, later changed to the Greek letter "Chi."

Dedicated to advancing “the intellectual, social and moral culture” of its members, our Founders’ vision has grown to include our women’s Fraternity, the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, the National Housing Corporation and Pearl Stone Partners. Together, they serve more than 230,000 members in more than 140 collegiate chapters and nearly 200 alumnae chapters nationwide.

Our Founders

The real, strong women who founded Alpha Chi Omega were music students at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

For generations, our National Presidents tirelessly invested their talents in preserving and advancing the legacy of Alpha Chi Omega.

These volunteers were elected and worked alongside fellow National Council members to direct our organization.

Estelle Leonard (Alpha, DePauw University) 1885-91

Janette Allen Cushman (Beta, Albion College) 1891-93

Mary Elizabeth Stanford (Gamma, Northwestern University) 1893-94

Charlotte Weber Seiple (Delta, Allegheny College) 1894-96

Mary Janet Wilson (Alpha, DePauw University) 1896-98
Raeburn Cowger Obenchain (Alpha, DePauw University) 1898-1902
Kate Calkins Lovejoy (Beta, Albion College) 1902-07
Alta Allen Loud (Beta, Albion College) 1907-10
Evangeline Bridge Stevenson (Zeta, New England Conservatory) 1910-12
Alta Allen Loud (Beta, Albion College) 1912-19
Elizabeth Dunn Prins (Iota, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) 1919
Myra H. Jones (Lambda, Syracuse University) 1920
Gladys Olmstead Graff (Zeta, New England Conservatory) 1920-24
Beatrice Herron Brown (Alpha, DePauw University) 1924-28
Ethel Mead Van Auken (Lambda, Syracuse University) 1928-35
Minerva Osborn Donald (Pi, University of California, Berkeley) 1935-39
Ruth Miller Winsor (Phi, University of Kansas) 1939-43
Gladys Drach Power (Nu, University of Colorado Boulder) 1943-49
Mildred Estabrook Scott (Pi, University of California, Berkeley) 1949-53
Ruth Tewinkel Suppes (Rho, University of Washington) 1953-57
Burnette Grimes Jones (Omega, Washington State University) 1957-60
Jessie Fanyo Payne (Upsilon, Millikin University) 1960-64
Rosita Hopps Nordwall (Epsilon, University of Southern California) 1964-66
Rosemary Newman Hittle (Alpha Chi, Butler University) 1966-70
Adele Fieve Drew (Alpha Lambda, University of Minnesota) 1970-76
Karen Aunan Miley (Alpha Lambda, University of Minnesota) 1976-80
Martha Carolan Hannegan (Omicron, Baker University) 1980-83
D’Alice Coburn Cochran (Alpha Mu, Indiana University) 1983-88
Ellen Little Vanden Brink (Alpha, DePauw University) 1988-92
Judy Evans Anderson (Alpha Lambda, University of Minnesota) 1992-96
Janice Manning Crandall (Omicron, Baker University) 1996-2000
Julie Cain Burkhard (Beta Sigma, University of Georgia) 2000-04
Donna Smith Chereck (Alpha Phi, The University of Texas at Austin) 2004-08
Marsha King Grady (Alpha Upsilon, The University of Alabama) 2008-12
Diane Wilson Blackwelder (Omicron, Baker University) 2012-16
Angela Costley Harris (Alpha Beta, Purdue University) 2016-20

The History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity: The First 25 Years

The History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity: 1910-1935

The History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity: 1935-1960

The History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity: 1960-1985



Symbols and traditions have connected Alpha Chi Omegas for generations. Some date back to our founding, while others have evolved, and all represent who we are and what we value.

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The history website is specially designed to bring Alpha Chi Omega’s history to life. See photographs and items, recently discovered in storage boxes, that have never been on display.

Discover Untold Stories >