October 2019 Heritage News: American Archives Month

Category: Heritage

Noraleen Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

October is American Archives Month, an opportunity to celebrate and recognize what archival collections provide to our lives: the stories that help us learn about ourselves and our communities. Organizations of all sizes and shapes maintain archives. There are government archives, educational archives, historical archives, business and organization archives, and of course, Kappa Alpha Theta archives!

Delegates to Grand Convention 1899 established Theta’s archives and named a Fraternity archivist. At the time, physical archives stayed with the archivist, regardless of where she was located. Grand Council minutes include approval of the purchase of a trunk to store the items, and the collection grew thorough donations and requests printed in the magazine. In 1926, Catherine Tillotson McCord, Alpha/DePauw, became Fraternity archivist. She lived in Greencastle and eventually stored the items at the Alpha chapter house. 

Catherine Tillotson McCord, Alpha/DePauw

In conjunction with the planning for the centennial celebration in 1970, the archives were moved to Theta’s Chicago-area headquarters in 1966. When Theta headquarters moved to Indianapolis in 1984, dedicated space was included for the collections, which have continued to grow. The archives provides information for our members, chapters, volunteers, officers, and staff. To the larger world, it offers content that reflects the role of Theta and the lives of college-educated women and their communities. 

The official records of the Fraternity as an enterprise, as well as materials related to chapters and individual members for nearly 150 years, are contained in the Theta archives. Members, families of members, and others contribute materials reflective of their Theta experiences. The archives continues to welcome donations of photographs, artifacts, and documents. You can find information about donating materials on the Theta website.

For me, one of the best parts of an archives are the stories: the stories of individuals as well as the stories of an organization like Kappa Alpha Theta and how it has contributed to the stories of college women. In celebration of American Archives Month, take an opportunity to visit an archives on your own campus, in your community, or virtually!