During the American Civil War, the creation and functioning of many Greek-letter organizations for both men and women stopped almost completely due to the war. However, after the Civil War ended in the mid-1860s, these organizations began to develop and flourish once again.
History of Pi Beta Phi
Pi Beta Phi, originally named I.C. Sorosis, was founded on April 28, 1867 at Illinois’s Monmouth College. Twelve women set out to form a secret college society for women and Pi Beta Phi claims to be the first national sorority modeled after men’s fraternities.
The founders of I.C. Sorosis spent no time waiting to expand the organization. In the next year, a second chapter was established at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The organization also held its first convention in 1868 at the home of Fannie Thomason, one of the organization’s founders, in Oquawka, Illinois.
In 1882, the convention of I.C. Sorosis officially adopted the organization’s colors and motto. Six years late, in 1888, I.C. Sorosis officially changed its name to Pi Beta Phi.
After meeting with representatives from seven other national sororities in Boston, Massachusettes, in 1891, Pi Beta Phi became one of the seven founding organizations of the National Panhellenic Conference. The remaining six organizations were Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, and Delta Delta Delta.
The National Panhellenic Conference now serves as the umbrella organization of America’s twenty-six national and international sororities and fraternities and, through its member organizations, sets standards for membership recruitment, scholarship, and academics. The organization also helps to advocate the college fraternity and the benefits of membership in such an organization.
In 1928, the original chapter of Pi Beta Phi at Monmouth College was reopened and, twelve years later in 1940, the organization purchased the Holt House, the house at which the society was founded.
Pi Beta Phi Today
Today, Pi Beta Phi has partnered with many national organizations to promote literacy, including the Champions Are Readers program for third grade students, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and First Book.
Pi Beta Phi boasts over 240,000 members and has chapters in forty-three of the fifty United States in addition to chapters in Canada. Pi Beta Phi can be recognized in the sorority world through their colors and various symbols.
- Colors: wine and silver blue
- Mascot: none officially, but an angel is the unofficial mascot
- Flower: the carnation
- Philanthropy: promoting literacy
- Motto: Pi Beta Phi, adopted by the national convention in 1882
Pi Beta Phi, originally established as I.C. Sorosis in 1867, became the first sorority established in the northern United States. By promoting literacy, Pi Beta Phi has partnered with several national organizations to promote literacy and a love of reading in children across the United States and the world.