Delta Gamma History
Delta Gamma was founded in 1873 in Oxford, Mississippi, at the Lewis School for Girls by three young women who were unable to go home for the Christmas break. Together, Anna Boyd, Mary Comfort and Eva Webb created a club of "mutual helpfulness."
They chose the Greek letters Delta and Gamma because of their desire to "Do Good." It remains Delta Gamma's motto today and a driving force in all we do. Delta Gamma is a sisterhood built on a commitment to making the world better through not only service, but also a deep appreciation for each individual.
What started with three women in Oxford, Mississippi, has since grown into an international Fraternity with 152 collegiate chapters and more than 215 alumnae groups. Delta Gamma's sisterhood continues to inspire women through the values that were built into our very first Constitution. Article II, written by our Founders in 1873, states:
"The objects of this Fraternity shall be to foster high ideals of friendship among women, to promote their educational and cultural interests, to create in them a true sense of social responsibility and to develop in them the best qualities of character."
While the Constitution spells out the values of a Delta Gamma woman in Article II, you can't tell the story of Delta Gamma without speaking of hope. The original pin of the Fraternity was the letter "H," which the Founders meant to stand for hope. A few years before she died, Founder Mary Comfort Leonard described the first pin:
"We went to a local jeweler and had our pin made-the letter 'H,' which stood for hope, for we hoped great results and have not been disappointed…" - The Shield
Delta Gamma Fraternity does not discriminate in its membership selection on the basis of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, color, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, physical disability or other characteristics protected by state, provincial or federal law. Membership is open to all individuals who identify as women. Those selected for membership in Delta Gamma must have good scholarship, be of good character and standing, have an interest in activities that will enhance the academic atmosphere at the college or university, and have a sincere desire to contribute to the work of Delta Gamma.
All efforts are in place to guarantee those selected for membership in Delta Gamma have good scholarship, are of good character and standing, have an interest in activities which will enhance the academic atmosphere at the college, university or community, and have a sincere desire to contribute to the work of Delta Gamma. The Executive Offices will continue to work with the individual chapters to ensure that all policies and procedures are followed at all times.
For a complete list of our policies, please visit our library.
All those years ago in 1873, Delta Gamma began its tradition of setting precedent for other organizations nation wide. Here are a few DG firsts:
- First sorority in the United States to establish an independent philanthropic foundation: Service for Sight, founded in 1951 in Ohio.
- The only Panhellenic group to have its flower registered with the American Rose Society: Delta Gamma Cream Rose.
- One of the seven original groups that began the National Panhellenic Conference.
- The first sorority to build an international headquarters specifically for that purpose.
- First recipient of the Helen Keller Philanthropic Service Award, given by the American Foundation for the Blind, for assistance to those who are visually impaired and for sight conservation.
- First recipient of the Virginia Boyce Award presented by Prevent Blindness America.
- First women’s fraternity to employ a full-time staff member to address the health and wellness needs of its members.
- First to have an archivist handling historical materials at its international headquarters.
- First to receive recognition from the American Academy of Ophthalmology for Distinguished Public Service.
- First to establish challenge grants in values in ethics, through the Dorothy Garrett Martin Lectureship in Values and Ethics.
- The first sorority to have seminars and house corporations.
- First and only fraternity to sponsor a traveling art exhibit, called Art of the Eye, to benefit Service for Sight.
William and Mary joined this proud tradition in 1982, and has continued its commitment to doing good for the Williamsburg community and the nation as a whole.