Gamma Phi Beta was founded by four women at Syracuse University in 1874. Gamma Phi Beta also went on to help create the National Panhellenic Conference.
In 1872, Syracuse University witnessed the founding of one of the oldest women’s fraternities in the United States: Alpha Phi. Two years later in November of 1874, another secret organization for women would come together and take root at Syracuse.
History of Gamma Phi Beta
At a time when women were discouraged from entering college for a multiple of reasons, four women at Syracuse University came together because they desired the same fellowship that members of other fraternal organizations experienced.
After writing a constitution, bylaws, and making other necessary decisions regarding the structure of their organization, Helen Mary Dodge, Frances E. Haven, Eunice Adeline Curtis, and Mary Alice Bingham founded Gamma Phi Beta on November 11, 1874. In March of the following year, the four women initiated a fifth member, Clara Worden, into the society.
Seven years after the society initiated its first member, Gamma Phi Beta established a second chapter of the organization at the University of Michigan. In the same year, an alumnae chapter was established in Chicago, Illinois. Alumnae chapters of sororities provide those who have graduated from college a chance to continue friendships and activities with fellow members.
In 1902, representatives from Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi, Delta Delta Delta, and Delta Gamma met to discuss issues that had developed in the realm of sororities and women’s fraternities. Out of this meeting came what is now known as the National Panhellenic Conference, which has grown to become the umbrella organization of twenty-six national and international sororities and women’s fraternities in America.
Gamma Phi Beta became an international organization in 1919 when it established its twenty-fifth chapter at the University of Toronto. It wasn’t until 1990, however, that the first international council of the organization was established.
Gamma Phi Beta Today
According to Gamma Phi Beta’s website, the organization boasts over 160,000 members. In terms of structure, Gamma Phi Beta has 119 active collegiate chapters and 171 alumnae groups across the world.
Gamma Phi Beta’s philanthropic cause is camping for girls and more specifically Campfire USA. The organization has donated $57,000 to Campfire USA and $58,865 to other philanthropic causes supported by individual chapters.
In the world of sororities and women’s fraternities, Gamma Phi Beta, like all other organizations, can be recognized by trademark insignia adopted throughout the organization’s history.
- Colors: brown and mode (light brown)
- Symbol: crescent moon
- Flower: pink carnation
- Philanthropy: camping for girls / Campfire USA
- Motto: Founded Upon a Rock
Gamma Phi Beta, founded by four women at Syracuse University in 1874, has grown into one of the largest sororities and women’s fraternities in the United States. By continuing the purpose on which it was founded over a century ago, Gamma Phi Beta continues to thrive and grow even as the dynamics of college life continue to change.