Delta Delta Delta's Fraternity History

About Tri Delta

Delta Delta Delta was founded in the late nineteenth century, during an era in which many other such "ladies' societies" were created. Women were often given a cool reception on college campuses and so joined these societies to find friendship and support. At first, all the societies were local - limited to only one campus. However the groups soon imitated the existing men's fraternities and spread chapters to other campuses.

Sarah Ida Shaw

In 1885, a young woman named Sarah Ida Shaw enrolled at Boston University. A valedictorian of her high school, she was one of the top students in her graduating class at Boston University. Sarah was also invited to join each of the women's societies with a chapter at Boston - Kappa Kappa Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta and Alpha Phi - but she declined all invitations.

After a time, Sarah realized that a women's fraternity could fill a great need for young women living away from their homes, families and friends. She wished to start her own group, different from the existing ones. And so in 1888 Sarah Ida Shaw turned to her friend, Eleanor Dorcas Pond, and said, "Let us found a society that shall be kind alike to all and think more of a girl's inner self and character than of her personal appearance."


Eleanor Dorcas Pond was also a high school valedictorian and a notable young woman on the Boston University campus. She and Sarah Ida Shaw set about creating an entirely new women's fraternity, one conceived of as national from the very outset. Later, Sarah would write of their efforts, "...The two enthusiastic friends were unaware of the fact that there was something stupendous about the task they had set hands, heads and hearts to accomplish. They were working for a principle, and it never occurred to them that there could be such a thing as failure. Earnestness of purpose,energy and enthusiasm had brought them both success in college and why should not these same qualities bring assurance of good fortune to the new venture."

Eleanor Dorcas Pond

Unlike many of the women's fraternities founded in the late nineteenth century, which were often created by fraternity men, Delta Delta Delta was from the very beginning created by women for women. Sarah and Eleanor wrote the Tri Delta rituals and constitution and designed the emblems of the fraternity. They chose the name together; Eleanor suggested a triple letter and Sarah chose the letter itself and wrote the Greek mottos and passwords.


Park Street Church

Sarah Ida Shaw recorded the end of their efforts, writing, "At last, all was finished on Tuesday...November 27, 1888, but there was one more meeting of the two friends on the following afternoon before they separated for the Thanksgiving recess, at the top of the college building in what was then the Philological Library. It was there that the two girls embraced each other and said 'Tri Delta is founded'...It is not strange that the hearts of these sponsors were full of emotion as together they went out of the college building, for each felt there were added reasons why her Thanksgiving should be a very happy one. When they came to the parting of the ways at the historic Boston Common, Miss Pond said, 'We can make the girls we initiate promise secrecy, but what shall hold us two?' So there in the shadow of the old Park Street Church, with a bright new moon and three brilliant stars nearby...the two faithful friends clasped hands and said, 'In the presence of these myriads of witnesses, I swear eternal loyalty and fealty to Delta Delta Delta.' "


The founding of Delta Delta Delta, continued: Alpha Chapter

Delta Delta Delta at Whitman College: Theta Omicron Chapter

  Page designed and maintained by chapter webmistress, Monica Jacobson
Last updated June 1, 2005