These past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to work with a scrapbook thought to be assembled around 1970 for Theta’s centennial. What’s inside, though, is much older! Entitled “Kappa Alpha Theta-The Early Years,” the scrapbook has letters from Bettie Locke, Hannah Fitch, and other early members of Theta.
And now I get to work with it leading up to our sesquicentennial! After scanning every page, I got to transcribe the handwritten parts. As I read through the letters, I tried not to drool over the letters and photos and the fact that some of the letters had been touched by Bettie Locke herself!
The document that I loved the most was not a letter, but an 1875 Theta Constitution. Handwritten on notebook paper (some things in college don’t change!), the constitution has rules for expansion, bylaws, and regulatory procedures for all existing and subsequent Theta chapters. One passage though, stood out to me because its meaning was so familiar:
“The object of the society shall be to advance the interests of its members; to afford an opportunity for improvement in composition, elocution, and debate; to cultivate those social qualities which become woman, and to provide for its members associates bound by a common interest.”
Immediately, it made me think of our mission statement now, 150 years later: “Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, Kappa Alpha Theta exists to nurture each member throughout her college and alumna experience and to offer a lifelong opportunity for social, intellectual, and moral growth as she meets the higher and broader demands of mature life.”
The wording may have changed but the meaning has not.
These values of Kappa Alpha Fraternity as stated in 1875 have changed little, withstood the test of time, and established the expectation of personal excellence of members to hold themselves and others to. In doing so, 250,000 initiated Thetas have become leading women on our more than 140 chapters at college campuses, and within our communities across the world by holding members together by a common bond of support, intellectual growth, sisterhood, leadership, love, and more. These have been the foundation of Kappa Alpha Theta as it has grown for almost 150 years.
This scrapbook was assembled in honor of Theta’s existence for 100 years, and now I am reading it a few years shy of Theta’s 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial. I am so proud to be a Theta, and if all of these wonderful things are what Thetas can accomplish in its first 150 years, I cannot wait to see what is yet to come.