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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Saturday, October 6, 2012 06:37 AM, by Noraleen DuVall Young
Hannah Fitch Shaw
In the course of looking through some of the older issues of the Magazine, I came across this letter from Hannah Fitch Shaw, whose birthday we recognize today, in the March 1914 issue. I thought I would share some of her thoughts, which still apply today.

"There lies before me a goodly pile of letters and telegrams from North, South, East and West all bearing cheery messages of congratulations on our forty-fourth birthday. Each one carries its own personality and reveals to me two things; appreciation of what was done long ago, and - best of all - the ever widening influence for good that is being exerted by Kappa Alpha Theta.

"It is a great satisfaction to know that the same high ideals that meant so much to us in the beginning have been sacredly cherished and have proved so helpful in building a great fraternity ....

"That girls could have a secret fraternity was thought impossible and absurd. Our handsome badge was dubbed a 'kite' and the opposition to coeducation furnished a favoring gale for a well made kite, a line of study held it aloft and after awhile as the line grew longer the kite rose higher and appeared smaller.

"We were called Thetas always. The Greek-letter Theta is some times known as unlucky because it begins 'thanatos' and was used to pass sentence on prisoners.

"Theta's mission seems to have been to pass sentence on some of the common prejudices against coeducation, for at that time it was considered at best a doubtful experiment.

"First it was a claim that the course was too heavy for young women and the danger would be to health; next that there was a great danger of lowering the standard; and worst of all, that if neither of these calamities occurred the young women would acquire a distaste for home life.

"All these questions have been settled years ago, for health did not suffer, the standard was not lowered, honors were received, and thousands of college-bred women have found their widest influence in the home.

"That we are proud of the record made by our fraternity is shown by our willingness to have our daughters become members for we want only the best for them, and is further shown by the alumnae chapters that keep in touch with the work of the whole."

Hannah goes on to recount a visit to "western Thetas" in California and Colorado, mentioning the Omega/UC Berkeley house because of "all admiration for the genius of our Theta architect, Julia Morgan, for such a complete, convenient, and artistic home." She concludes her letter, discussing the announcement of the establishment of Alpha Tau at the University of Cincinnati, a school not far from her home in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and attending its installation. She concludes her letter:

"May Alpha Tau find a field of usefulness and ever grow and prosper."

Alpha Tau did grow and prosper, and will celebrate its centennial in 2013.

With few surviving original letters of our founders, Hannah's printed letter reminds us of the spirit in which Kappa Alpha Theta was founded and continues to "grow and prosper."

Noraleen Young, Alpha Chi/Purdue, is staff archivist at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity and is a charter Life Loyal member.

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