A Significant Source of Theta Stories: The Kappa Alpha Theta Archives

Category: Heritage

Noraleen Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

The formal definition of “archives" is “a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.”

In working with the archives at Kappa Alpha Theta, I like to think of a simpler definition: "a significant source of Theta stories."

The Theta archives contains the stories of individual members, chapters, and the Fraternity itself. Be it the official records of Grand Council, manuals and handbooks, photographs, scrapbooks, and artifacts ranging from badges and pins to even ashtrays, the items—either individually or collectively—tell Theta stories.

This past year, I had the pleasure to participate in two events where members were encouraged to share their own Theta treasures and stories. One of these events was via the Virtual Thetas monthly meeting, and the other was in person for an alumnae group. The items ranged from pieces of clothing to jewelry, badges to photographs, and all were amazing, but it was the stories, the personal connections that these items held for the individuals who owned them that elevated the meaning of the items. And those of us who heard those stories were connected over time as fellow Thetas.

Sharing Theta-themed "Senior Cords" - hand-painted clothing from Alpha Chi/Purdue, a long-standing tradition at Purdue.

The Theta archives is what it is today due to the leadership in 1899 who established the first archivist position, those who have served in that position over the years, and those who have and will donate items to the archives.

In celebration of October being U.S. National Archives month, the best way to celebrate is to check in with the archives to revisit the old stories and learn new ones. You can share your stories and pictures of your Theta treasures via the Theta History Group in ThetaConnect!