Twenty Years in the Theta Archives

Category: Heritage

Noraleen DuVall Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I run across something I worked on a long time ago that causes a bit of an epiphany. Late last year, I found a report I had written back in June 1997 about some of the cataloging I was doing for the Q & A database Theta was using at that time to manage the collection. While I chuckled at the thought of that old database and how far we have come, what stunned me was that I have been at Theta for almost two decades!

Yet it truly seems like only yesterday. I arrived here at Theta headquarters with almost no knowledge of Kappa Alpha Theta or of the Greek-letter world because I was not involved in Greek-letter organizations during college. I did, however, have a college friend who was; I knew how much it meant to her; and I was also keenly interested in the history of not-for-profit groups, particularly women’s organizations. In many ways, their important stories have not always been shared, and I wanted to do what I could to make it easier to find those stories. As I discovered then, and still do every day I work in the collection, there are many Theta stories just waiting to be told.

So, what has happened over the last 20 years? First, I have learned about the important role Kappa Alpha Theta has played in the lives of more than 240,000 college-educated women for 147 years. Second, I have had many opportunities to share these stories: of the founders with our members today, of a specific Theta with her family, of Theta’s accomplishments with a larger community. Third, I have met my counterparts in other Greek-letter organizations around the country and have seen how they, too, are working on their archives and sharing that information to their members. Finally, I was welcomed into membership in 2008 as an alumna initiate of Kappa Alpha Theta.

I still enter my office on the lower level of Fraternity headquarters each day and wonder what interesting stories I will be considering, documenting, or sharing. You can’t ask for a better job than one that keeps you on your toes and allows you to learn something new daily! Thanks to that and a great staff to work with, I look forward to each day.

As an archivist, you sometimes become fixated on the past; around here, however, you never know what will be coming at you in the future. That’s why 20 years has flown by.