Hannah Fitch Shaw

https://d1j8dcgobb3n6i.cloudfront.net/heritage/Heroes/Founders_Mobile_Hannah.jpg?mtime=20190513101632 Hannah Fitch Shaw Hero Image

The Motivator

Hannah Fitch was born in Lawrenceburg, Ind., on October 6, 1851. Several male members of her family had attended Indiana Asbury College (later called DePauw University), and she grew up hearing stories about the college. Her parents felt strongly about the importance of education for young women. She began her college days in January 1869; while ranking first in her class, she was disappointed in her experience and did not return in the fall. One of her new friends, Bettie Locke, wrote her, urging her to return, which she did.

With Bettie Locke and Alice Allen graduating in 1871, and Bettie Tipton transferring to another school, Hannah was the last remaining founder on the campus, and it became her responsibility to continue Kappa Alpha Theta. Not only did she help grow the fraternity, but she was also active on campus, including being on the editorial staff for of the college paper, Asbury Review, the first woman to hold such a position.

Hannah met her future husband, Archibald Shaw, at DePauw, and married him after she graduated in 1873. They had eight children, including a daughter, Ella, who also attended DePauw and was a member of Alpha Chapter. During her lifetime, she obtained a U.S. Patent for an improved dustpan.

Hannah attended four conventions, including the first one in 1872 and then in 1899, 1907, and 1919. She traveled a good amount, and in one particular trip to the west coast, she visited Theta chapters along the way. She attended the installation of Alpha Tau Chapter at the University of Cincinnati in 1913. She continued to hold strong views about the importance of higher education for women.

Hannah died in 1924, and is buried in Lawrenceburg, Ind.

A Look into Hannah Fitch Shaw's Life

  1. October 06
    1851
    Hannah Virginia Fitch Born

    Born in Lawrenceburg, Ind., "Jennie" was the daughter of Dewitt C. Fitch and Leah Tebow Hayes.

    450 X 450 Hfs0016
  2. 1860
    U.S. Census

    Listed as living with her parents in Lawrenceburg, Ind. Her family were early residents of the area and had numerous businesses.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1860
  3. January 01
    1869
    Enrolled in Indiana Asbury College

    Hannah was a boarder at the Allen house. These Allens were not related to founder Alice O. Allen but had family who become Thetas.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1868
  4. September 01
    1869
    Left Indiana Asbury

    Hannah was not happy and felt lonely on campus, so she did not return for the Fall 1869 semester. Bettie Locke wrote to her, encouraging her to come back because she had a idea.

    450 X 450 Hfs
  5. January 01
    1870
    Returned to Greencastle, Ind.

    Listed as a boarder.

  6. January 27
    1870
    Kappa Alpha Theta Founded

    On January 27, 1870, Bettie Locke, Alice Allen, and Bettie Tipton joined Hannah in her boarding room to establish Kappa Alpha Theta.

    450 X 450  Page Alph0073
  7. March 14
    1870
    Wore Theta Badge for First Time

    Nearly a century later, her badge was given to the Fraternity in the lead-up to the Centennial Celebration in 1970.

    450 X 450 Hfs Badge
  8. March 28
    1871
    Gave Speech: "Choosing an Occupation"

    Indianapolis Journal (March 29, 1871) quoted Hannah as saying: "Every one should have something to do. Having nothing to do is not contentment. We must improve our natural abilities, and work always with zeal; otherwise we can expect but moderate results."

    450 X 450 Hfs Choosing
  9. December 01
    1871
    Newspaper Review of Her Presentation at the Junior Exhibition of the Class of 1873

    "The first speaker was Miss Jennie Fitch; subject 'Music Analogous to Literature.' Miss Fitch's voice is not very well adapted to public speaking, it being rather weak. She had her manuscript in her hand, but did not refer to it all. She held the attention of the audience unbroken to the last."

  10. November 15
    1872
    Attended the First Grand Convention of Kappa Alpha Theta

    Held in Bloomington, Ind., on November 15, there were twelve attendees representing two chapters. Hannah and Mary Stevenson Buchtel were the Alpha Chapter delegates. Mary wrote, "We had a grand time socially, I remember I was entertained at the home of the Misses Hughes, where we were in a continuous reception while in the house. We gave one morning to business. The evening was given to a party, much like any other party of fine young folk. The weather was cold and we got home late. I shall not forget the warm iron the motherly Mrs. Hughes had placed in the foot of my bed."

  11. June 01
    1872
    Presentation at the Philomathean Literary Society on "Individual Culture"

    Literary groups were a major activity on the Indiana Asbury campus.

  12. July 31
    1873
    Married Archibald Shaw

    Archibald Shaw was a fellow student at Indiana Asbury, and it was said that he was the among the first to acknowledge her wearing her Theta badge.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1873
  13. 1880
    U.S. Census

    The Shaws lived in Lawrenceburg, Ind., their entire lives.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1880
  14. May 04
    1886
    Received U.S. Patent for "Improved Dishpan"
    450 X 450 Hfs Patent
  15. 1899
    Attended Alpha Chapter Reunion
  16. August 01
    1899
    Kappa Alpha Theta Grand Convention

    Bettie Locke Hamilton also attended the Convention. Together, they gave a short speech at the closing session. Hannah stayed with her brother, Walther H. Fitch, who lived in Indianapolis.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1899
  17. June 01
    1907
    Kappa Alpha Theta Grand Convention

    Hannah attended the 19th Grand Convention was held in Chicago.

    450 X 450 Gc907001
  18. January 25
    1908
    Attended Indianapolis Alumnae Chapter Founders Day
    450 X 450 Hfs 1908
  19. July 01
    1913
    Traveled to the U.S. West Coast

    While visiting various locations, she stopped at chapter facilities and met with alumnae.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1913A
  20. December 13
    1913
    Attended the installation of Alpha Tau/Cincinnati
    450 X 450 Hfs 1913
  21. June 01
    1919
    Kappa Alpha Theta Convention

    Attended the Jubilee Grand Convention in St. Louis to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fraternity.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1919
  22. January 17
    1920
    Attended the 50th Anniversary Celebration

    A special luncheon was held in January 1920 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kappa Alpha Theta. Hannah and Bettie Locke were the special guests.

    450 X 450 Hfs 19200117
  23. July 31
    1923
    Celebrated 50th wedding anniversary
    450 X 450 Hfs 1923
  24. December 03
    1924
    Died at age 73

    After a long illness, Hannah passed away. This photo accompanied an obituary in the Theta magazine.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1924
  25. 1937
    Hannah Fitch Shaw Fellowship Awarded to Mary Tom Osborne, Beta Beta/Randolph-Macon

    Osborne helped organize the first San Antonio alumnae club. An English professor, she was able to spend 1937-1938 teaching at Oxford University and in Europe because of the fellowship. She earned her PhD in 1940 from the University of Texas.

    450 X 450 Bbet0003
  26. 1970
    Hannah Fitch Shaw Founders Memorial Scholarship First Awarded

    Rebecca Laws, Beta Lambda/William & Mary, was the first recipient.

    450 X 450 Hfs 1970
  27. 2018
    Year of Sisterhood

    2018 was celebrated as the Year of Sisterhood in honor of Hannah Fitch Shaw.

A message from Hannah Fitch Shaw's great-niece:

“Hannah was a deep-thinking individual. I think she would be interested that women have changed their role in society to the extent they have.”

Ann Wells Bowers
Alpha Tau/Cincinnati

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