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10 Little-Known Facts about Founders Day

kappa delta founders

Founders Day is soon approaching, and we can’t wait to celebrate! We’ve uncovered some little-known facts about our founders and the beginnings of Kappa Delta. How well do you know Lenora, Sara, Mary, Julia and the story of how KD was founded?

  1. Kappa Delta was founded at the State Female Normal School of Virginia. The name is misleading, however, as the students of the school were hardly ordinary.

A “normal school” may sound odd to our modern ears, but in 1897, normal schools were teacher training institutions. Teaching was one of the few jobs available to educated women at the time. Women also used the school as a finishing school or “community college” before going to four-year accredited university. Julia graduated from Wellesley; Nora from Randolph-Macon.

  1. Lenora’s favorite pastime was “writing love letters.”

Though meant as a lighthearted joke, the school yearbook stated Nora had a way with romantic prose. While we don’t know if this claim was true, we do know our literary founder wrote articles for Southern Woman’s Magazine after graduation.

  1. Julia was one smart cookie.

The other three founders turned to her when they found themselves struggling in math. After her first term at school, Julia had the highest academic average in her class.

  1. Sara had several nicknames at school, including “Pig” and “Kid.”

She claimed “Pig” was given to her because she was the youngest girl in class, not because of her size. “I was as lean as a pipe stem, and I am sure I did not consume a greater number of hot rolls than the rest of the girls.” She was called “kid” by Lenora whenever they had a sisterly squabble, and Mary was often the one to ease tension between them.

kappa delta founders

  1. Lenora wrote a glowing profile of cofounder Mary Sommerville Sparks for the 1912 issue of The Angelos:

“I wish I could picture her so that everyone of you would know her as we knew her…to have her love you and help you and mother you. Mary always smoothed our feathers in the gentlest way, and we would come out of our skirmishes loving each other more.”

  1. Kappa Delta is not the only sorority founded in Farmville.

Sigma Sigma Sigma, Zeta Tau Alpha and Alpha Sigma Alpha were all founded on the campus, making State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) the birthplace of more NPC sororities than any other institution.  A 4-sided clock was placed on the campus in the early 2000s to honor the four sororities.  Each side honors one of the sororities.  These sororities are known in the Greek world as the “Farmville Four.”

  1. Kappa Delta and Sigma Sigma Sigma were founded the same year. 

Sigma Sigma (KD) was formed in Oct. 1897.  By early 1898 a group calling themselves Sigma Sigma Sigma entered some material for the yearbook.  Being on the staff, Julia learned about Sigma Sigma Sigma.  Not wanting two organizations so closely named, Sigma Sigma immediately changed their name to Kappa Delta.  Kappa Delta was never identified in any printed book as Sigma Sigma. According to Lenora, Kappa Delta was met with “competition when Sigma Sigma Sigma was organized. But the school year ended pleasantly with a joint Kappa Delta and Sigma Sigma Sigma banquet and general good feeling.”

kappa delta founders day

  1. Julia designed the badge.

Julia created a diamond-shaped pin made of silver with a fluted edge and green enameled surface with the letters KD in the center. She quickly decided she did not like the design. Within a year the badge had been changed to the one we wear today.

  1. Genevieve Bacon Venable Holladay was not technically the first National President of Kappa Delta.

Charlotte Lottie McKinney was the first person elected Grand Head (president) of the newly formed Grand Chapter (now National Council) in 1900. For personal reasons Charlotte had to relinquish her position almost immediately. She never served in the position. Genevieve V. Holladay assumed the title almost immediately and served in the position until 1904.

  1. Many of the items used by the founding members 122 years ago have been preserved.

The Alpha trunk, early minutes, chapter procedures, bylaws and ritualistic items are on display in the Kappa Delta museum at National Headquarters. Come visit us in Memphis, Tennessee, for a tour!