Alpha Phi Fraternity, founded at Syracuse University in 1872, is one of the ten oldest sororities and women’s fraternities in the United States.
By 1872, five national sororities and women’s fraternities had emerged on college and university campuses across the United States, organizations that would later become Alpha Delta Pi, Phi Mu, Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma. However, twenty-one years after the first secret organization for women was founded, a sixth organization was founded to create a bond among college women in America.
History of Alpha Phi
Alpha Phi was founded by the first ten female students at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, in 1872. The women were looking for a circle of friendship to unite them as they became some of the first women to pursue academics at Syracuse.
Just three years after the organization’s founding, members of Alpha Phi invited Frances E. Willard, a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, to become the first alumna initiate of the fraternity. An alumna initiate is something who has graduated from college and, for some reason, was not able to accept membership in the organization during her college years. The honor is also reserved for those who the organization decide are distinguished and wish to honor her achievements in one or more of many areas.
In 1888, Alpha Phi became the first women’s fraternity or sorority to build and occupy its own chapter house. The chapter house, which had become an institution associated with fraternity life, was now making its way into the world of women’s organizations.
In 1902, Alpha Phi also became one of the founding members of the National Panhellenic Conference, what is now the umbrella organization representing twenty-six of America’s national and international sororities and women’s fraternities. Alpha Phi representatives, including members of Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, and Delta Delta Delta, met in Boston, Massachusettes, to discuss issues pertaining to the world of secret organizations for women, especially in the area of membership recruitment.
Throughout the progression of the organization’s history, Alpha Phi also established chapters throughout Canada and the United States, had a member honored in the Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol, and became one of the first sororities to have a website on the Internet.
Alpha Phi Today
Today Alpha Phi boasts over 160,000 initiated members since 1872 and over 145 active collegiate chapters throughout the United States and Canada.
Alpha Phi’s philanthropic cause is women’s heart health. Adopted in 1946, Alpha Phi has since raised over one million dollars for cardiac health initiatives.
Alpha Phi, like many similar organizations, can be identified through various insignia adopted throughout the organization’s history.
- Colors: silver and bordeaux
- Mascot: bear
- Flowers: lily of the valley and forget-me-not
- Symbol: ivy leaf
- Philanthropy: Alpha Phi Foundation, which promotes women’s heart health and other causes
Alpha Phi Fraternity, founded by ten young women at Syracuse University in 1872, was established to provide a bond among women at a time and in a place where women were not necessarily welcome. Today, the organization continues to provide friendship and opportunities to women as the college environment continues to evolve.