"You won't believe what we have at headquarters!"
What does an archivist do when she receives an incredible collection of materials related to founder Bettie Locke and her daughters, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter? She immediately makes plans to share it with everyone! With the opening of the special exhibit "Bettie Locke and Her Family: Four Generations of Thetas" which will run through April 30, 2017, I get to do just that.
Since I began to receive photographs and tintypes, clothing and accessories from the family of Carole Cones-Bradfield, great-granddaughter of Bettie Locke, I have been talking about these items with anyone who came through the archive space. I have been sharing with my coworkers here at headquarters (they have been really patient with me), Thetas who have come through headquarters on visits, and friends, and family who have asked what I have been doing lately (True confession: sometimes they didn't even have to ask.) Recently my opening line in many a conversation has been, "You won't believe what we have at headquarters!"
The last few months have been filled with discoveries. Every time we open a box or sort letters still in their envelopes—most likely not opened since they were first read more than 100 years ago (See Fraternity Archivist Lisa McLaughlin's blog about some of her finds.)—I again realize the breadth and depth of this collection. Artifacts that have never been seen outside Bettie's family urge me toward research to find out more about them and how they represent the lives of American women over the last 150 years. (Wait until you see the personalized hanky of Eulalia Hamilton Hartley from 1901!)
So, to share just a few of the treasures related to the Bettie Locke family collection, I, with assistance from fellow staff members, have created a special exhibit at headquarters. Our goal is to provide a glimpse into the lives of Bettie, Edna, Eulalia, Genevieve, and Carole so that you too, can get to know these wonderful leading women. I am thrilled to share with you their lives as collegians, wives and mothers, and active community members ... all with the thread of Theta running throughout.
I encourage you to visit the exhibit in person if you can; please contact me to schedule a tour. If you can't come in person, follow along on social media throughout the run of the exhibit. Believe me: you won't believe what we have at headquarters!
December - the season of giving! Each year, Theta is pleased to honor our 50- and 75-year members with the gift of anniversary pins. We also recognize our 25-year members with a letter or email. This year, we will recognize 3,700 25-year members, 1,650 50-year members, and about 250 75-year members!
The Fraternity officially starting recognizing 50-year members in 1954 with a Golden Link certificate. These certificates were hand-made on shiny gold foil paper and sent to anniversary members. We only have a few of these in the archive ... and one is Bettie Locke Hamilton's daughter's certificate! Sometime later, Theta began sending black and gold pansy stick pins to 50-year members, and then the pins we send today.
In 1963, the decision was made to add 75-year members to the recognition list, and Grand Council selected a pansy pin with a gold coat-of-arms in the center.
Many members look forward to receiving these gifts, while others are surprised to see one in their mailbox!
From the archive, a letter from 1987 states: "Dear Theta Sisters, I was amazed, surprised, delighted, and horrified to receive my 50-year Theta pansy pin. Delighted you remembered me, amazed it was 50 years! Horrified the years have passed so swiftly by and surprised I feel and am the same Theta who was so happily pledged at Cal in '37. I shall wear it with pride and great gratitude for the fun, friendships, and high standards Theta has always meant." Polly Peters Hutchins Omega/UC Berkeley 1938.
Congratulations to all our members celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2017! We hope these pins and letters invoke many wonderful Theta memories and inspire you to create many more.