M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives


Finding Aid for the
RECORDS, 1920-1986


For reference queries contact Grenander Department Reference staff or (518)-437-3935.

Finding Aid Compiled by
Shawne Rosenberg & Sherry Schneiderman
December 7, 1992

M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives 
University Libraries / University at Albany / State University of New York 
1400 Washington Avenue / Albany, New York 12222 / (518) 437-3935

VOLUME: 1.33 cubic feet

ACQUISITION: These records were transferred to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Annette Gardiner DeLyser, Class of 1949, President of the Phi Delta Alumnae Association.

ACCESS: Access to these records is unrestricted except where otherwise noted in the finding aid.

COPYRIGHT: The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


Administrative History

Scope and Content Note

Series Descriptions

Box and Folder List:

Phi Delta Sorority
Administrative History

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The sorority known as Phi Delta was officially organized as an on-campus club for women called Alpha Delta Omicron in April of 1923.**1  The club was first recognized by the State College President, A.R. Brubacher, on November 11, 1924.  Phi Delta adopted its present name in 1926 with the hopes of becoming a national women's organization.  Those dreams did come true for the members of State College's Alpha chapter in February of 1927 when Phi Delta officially became a national sorority with a total of five chapters nationwide.**2

Phi Delta was founded as a social sorority for Protestant women.**3  Phi Delta also had the distinction of being the first Protestant national sorority at State College.  Exactly how long the sorority had a restrictive membership is unclear.  The 1953 SUNY Board of Trustees' ruling that "No social organization will be allowed to operate [on SUNY campuses] which bars students on account of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, or other artificial criteria," clearly made it illegal to have a restrictive membership policy.  Records show that by the early 1960's membership was open to both African-American and Jewish students.**4

Early leaders of Phi Delta include the charter members of the organization were Edith circa Jensen and Louise Gellrich.  At the time of nationalization in 1927, the prominent leaders of Phi Delta included President, Nina Handy; President of alumnae association, Coribel Page; and Chairman of the Extension Committee and the first National President, Ethel M. Bisland.

Among the primary elected officers of Phi Delta were President, Vice President, Marshall, Treasurer, Parlimentarian, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, Inter-Sorority Council Representative, and Rush Captain.  The duties of these officers are listed in the Phi Delta charter of 1964.  Phi Delta's recording secretary would take down minutes of sorority meetings.  The minutes served as the main record-keeping unit of the sorority.

The exact date of the dissolution of the Alpha chapter of Phi Delta remains unknown.  The last pieces of written and pictoral evidence of the existence of Phi Delta sorority are seen in both the 1972 Torch (the university yearbook) and in the 1971-72 Viewpoint (the freshman handbook).**5  A letter from University at Albany Vice-President for University Relations, Lewis P. Welch, to the Treasurer of Phi Delta's Alumnae Association, Francis Smith, confirms that Phi Delta was no longer in existence on the SUNYA campus by August 27, 1974.**6  The local sorority is believed to have disolved sometime in 1972 or 1973.  Records show that Phi Delta's alumnae association remained strong through the early 1980's.


1. State College News, February 11, 1927, 4.  There is some confusion about the official date for the founding of the sorority.  One undated constitution mentions an official foundation date of 1919.  No corroborating evidence has been found for this early founding date.
2. State College News, February 4, 1927, 1.
3. Ibid.: An undated early constitution (article V, section 1) states that "Membership shall be limited to Protestant women of the white race."  No other constitution, either local or national, mentions any restriction on membership based religion or race.
4. Pedagogue 1959,
5. Viewpoint 1971-72, 92.
6. Phi Delta Gifts to Alumni Association, Letter from Welch to Smith, August 25, 1974.

Phi Delta Sorority
Scope and Content Note

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Like most Greek organizations Phi Delta had both local and national constitions that served the purpose of setting forth the legislation of the sorority.  Included in these constitutions are articles and clauses that expand on the basic rules and regulations of the organization.  Other records contain copies of the Phi Delta national newspaper (The ADO), newspaper articles which write about Phi Delta events, scrapbooks and photographs, as well as documentation of the founding and dissolution of the Phi Delta Sorority at the University at Albany, SUNY.  The records span from 1920-1986.

A photograph of members of Phi Delta from the University Archives Photograph Collection are available for viewing online from the University at Albany Libraries' Digital Collections database.

Phi Delta Sorority
Series Descriptions

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Series 1: Subject Files, 1920-1986

The Subject Files contain constitutions, initiation ceremonies, membership lists, meeting minutes, photographs (group and individual taken at sorority parties), relating to the establishment of the sorority, its ceremonies and functions, and eventual dissolution,  Also contained in the series are financial and legal documents relating to sorority's houses at 146 and 278 Western Avenue. Of particular interest are the membership surveys from the 1930's which contain photographs and biographical data about the Alpha Chapter members.

Series 2: Scrapbooks, 1947-1948, 1958/1959-1962/1963

Included in the scrapbooks are invitations for Phi Delta teas, formals, holiday dinners and rush parties, as well as photographs of the sisterhood and newspaper clippings and articles that describe Phi Delta events.

Phi Delta Sorority
Box and Folder List

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Series 1: Subject Files, 1926-1986

Box 1

Application for Charter, 1964
Busca el Burro Program, undated
Cancelled Bankbooks-7/10/40-5/13/66, 9/27/65-2/1/67, 2/1/67-8/12/80, 7/29/66-7/14/80
Committee Reports for Greek Workshop, 1963
Constitution, 1923[?], 1967, 1968
Correspondence, 1933
Directories (some printed with alumni newsletters),1949, 1957-58, 1960-66, 1968
History, Constitution, Rituals, 1955
History Miscellaneous
History, Publications, Songs, 1930s
Honorary member ("Irene"), undated
House Mother-Lydia Totten
Housing-Financial and Legal Documents, 1950's, 1960's
Housing, 146 Western Avenue, 1946
IFC-ISC Chrismas Ball Program, 1949_
Incorporation Papers, 1927
Incorporation, 1968
Initiation Service
Invitations, 1984, 1986
Life Membership Certificates (blank), undated
Membership List, 1940's
Membership List, 1962-1966
Membership Questionnaires, 1931-31
Minutes, 1945-48
Minutes, 1949-51
National Constitution, Rituals, Pledge Service, 1955
Phi Delta Dance Program, 1951
Phi Delta Symbol for Printing Press
Photos, sisters and Hudson Avenue Building, 1929
Photographs, 1941
Photographs, Rush Party, 1952
Photographs, 1960s
Photographs, group, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1963*, 1964*, 1965, 1966, 1967*, 1968
President Collins, 1963, on Fraternities and Sororities
President Herbert Hoover and Phi Delta Visitors to the White House
Recommedations, 1929-67
Scrapbook, 1920s
Songs, undated
Sorority Picture, 1951

* Regular and oversized

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Last updated August 21, 2007