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Alpha Chi Omega was founded on October 15, 1885 at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. 


Back when America was getting used to the notion that women belonged in college at all, the dean of DePauw's School of Music, Professor James Hamilton Howe, invited seven of his female students to form a women's society within the school. Our founders took Professor Howe's suggestion a step further and formed a women's fraternity, only the sixth of its kind in the country. They were the first such group in the music school and believed they'd be the last.


They chose as their name the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet - Alpha and Omega. They put the word "Kai" (and) in the middle, and later changed it to the Greek letter Chi.

Our founders wanted Alpha Chi Omega to advance "the intellectual, social and moral culture" of its members. It worked. Today, our women's Fraternity, the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation and our National Housing Corporation serve more than 200,000 members in more than 130 collegiate chapters and 200 alumnae chapter nationwide.

As musicians, our founders included three pianists, a cellist/violinist/bassist, a composer, and two singers. As collegians, they sough "friendship, artistic society and advancement of the 'principles of true womanhood'."

Meet Our Founders

Anna Allen Smith (1870-1933)

Bessie Grooms Keenan


Bertha Deniston Cunningham


Nellie Gamble Childe


Olive Burnet Clark


Amy Dubois Reith


Estelle Leonard


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