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Badge Day 2024: Showing Your Theta Pride

Category: Heritage

Noraleen Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

Today, March 4, is International Badge Day. The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) offers resources on how you and/or your chapter can recognize this day, be it today or any day during March. defines badge as “a distinctive emblem worn as a mark of office, membership, achievement, etc.” For Thetas, our badge is a symbol of membership, something that identifies us as a member of the same organization and connects us over time and space.

The founders recognized the importance of having a badge and discussed it even before Theta’s founding on Jan. 27, 1870: History tells us that Bettie Locke, Alice Allen, and likely Bettie Tipton, worked on a badge’s potential design prior to our founding. One account stated that they “cut up enough paper to fill a wood box, trying to decide on a shape for their badge.” Bettie wrote to John F. Newman, a New York jeweler and member of Phi Gamma Delta, on Jan. 28, 1870, describing their initial design ideas. Newman responded with suggestions to fine tune their design and on March 14, 1870, the four founders wore their new badges for the first time to morning chapel, announcing to the world the existence of Kappa Alpha Theta.

The original badge was 1” x 0.75”. It remained at this size until 1907 when the standard badge was set at 0.80” x 0.56”. Several jewelers produced Theta badges and with that a variety of designs, but in 1915, L. G. Balfour & Co. became the sole official jeweler. (You can find out more about the history of the badge in the Heritage area of the website.)

In those early years, members could find the badge on all kinds of things, including rings, watch fobs, hat pins, and napkin rings. Outcomes from Grand Convention 1907 limited the design to the badge only. On occasion, one can still find items with the badge design, most notably a jeweler based in Indianapolis by the name C. B. Dyer who produced a distinctive badge in the 1910s-1930s, or in very tiny lapel pin-sized badge replicas.

In 1895, Julia H. Spear, Lambda/Vermont, shared, “I had many pleasant experiences meeting those wearing our badge in railroad trains, in street cars, on the streets in strange cities, perfect strangers a moment before, kindly feeling friends ever after” (from the April 1895 issue of The Kappa Alpha Theta, as the magazine was known at the time). Take the opportunity to wear your badge out and about, and see who you may meet!

In celebration of the Theta archives’ 125th anniversary, we are bringing back the Founder Badge from our 2020 Collection celebrating Theta's sesquicentennial in 2020! From now through Aug. 31, 2024, you have the opportunity to purchase a replica of the badge worn by founders Bettie, Alice, Bettie, and Hannah.

Thetas are asked to post photos on social media with the hashtags #BadgeDay24 and #IWearABadge to share their badge day celebrations, including images of sorority women wearing badges.