A Brief History of the Omega Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi
In 1914, Alpha Delta Pi had been around for 63 years. The sorority had “gone national” in 1905, at which time the members voted to change the name from the Adelphean Society to Alpha Delta Phi. However, it turns out that there was a fraternity of the same name, so to avoid confusion, our sorority became Alpha Delta Pi in 1913.The first issue of The Adelphean was published in 1907. Just about every Adelphean from cover-to-cover is stored in the digital archives on the ADPi website www.alphadeltapi.org. Most of the information that I gathered was gleaned from chapter letters published in The Adelpheans. These letters were filled with information about chapter business and social activities. Often the letters from the early decades sounded more like a newspaper society column, filled with engagement announcements, as well as detailed descriptions of wedding showers and parties. Buried within the letters were fascinating tidbits of information about campus life for women and the development of the Greek system at LSU.On May 29, 1914, three members of Epsilon chapter at Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans travelled to Baton Rouge to install the Omega chapter of ADPi. Epsilon had been installed in 1906 and the two chapters became very close. A major highlight of the fall semester every year was the LSU-Tulane football game when the Omegas and Epsilons would take turns hosting each other for the games.
As the 23rd chapter, we actually should have been the Psi chapter. For some reason, the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet, Xi, had not been assigned to a chapter. This oversight was remedied when the Ohio University chapter was given the Xi designation when it was installed on June 2, 1914.
When Omega was installed, the LSU campus was located downtown where the state capitol is now and had been admitting women for about 10 years. There were no dormitories and students lived in boarding houses near campus or at home. The young women that would later become the charter members of Omega had formed a local sorority called Sigma Beta Tau and would meet in the basement of the zoology building. The eight charter members of Omega were Kathleen Hummel, Baton Rouge, La.(who was the first president of Omega); Mary Watts, Jeanerette, La.; Vivian Scott, Kingston, La.; Ada Phillips, Evelyn, La.; Marguerite and Ruby Chennault, Baton Rouge, La; Nannie Roberts, Jackson, La.; Annie Walker, Mansfield, La. Every charter member was a member of a literary society, an athletic club, and of the YWCA. There was one other sorority on campus, Kappa Delta.
When the fall 1914 school year opened, the Omegas initiated four new sisters. Kappa Delta had initiated three, which Anne Walker, the Omega charter member, chapter reporter, and corresponding secretary made sure to point out in the Adelphean. By the way, Anne Walker would later be elected as Editor-in Chief of the Gumbo, the second woman ever to be elected as so. Anne Walker became the editor of The Adelphean in 1917. One of the new initiates in the fall of 1914 was Clift Martin, the first woman in Louisiana to study law and the second Omega president. Also that fall, the Omegas remodeled their chapter room, though it is not clear if they were still meeting in the basement room in the zoology building or elsewhere.
As the only two sororities on campus, KD and ADPi would have afternoon teas and holiday parties together. For example, for Christmas 1914, the KDs invited the Omegas to a Christmas party where everyone dressed as a toy or a doll. For Easter of 1915, the Omegas returned the favor by inviting the KDs to an Easter egg hunt on the Indian Mound.
In 1915, KD and ADPi formed a local Panhellenic council comprised of a few members from each sorority. In the beginning, the Panhellenic council had no rules regarding the type or number of rush parties. Rush parties ranged from teas to Halloween parties, slumber parties, swimming parties, and dinner dances. There was no requirement that the two sororities throw the same types of parties. One ADPi rush party in the fall of 1918, was held on the Mississippi River ferry. As the ferry travelled back and forth across the river, the Omegas were dancing on the top deck. According to the chapter letter, Omegas “take every opportunity to dance”. In these early years, because it was quite common for women to quit school to get married, the actives seemed to be continuously rushing, even during the summer. But as more sororities came onto campus, the Panhellenic council began to promulgate rules governing rush. They eliminated summer rush, limited the types and number of rush parties, and changed the bid process from verbal to written.
In 1916, Omega purchased the Sigma Nu chapter house to hold meetings and initiations. The house was described as a small white cottage with a flower garden.
One common practice back then was for sororities to have patronesses. These were local women that would serve as chaperons and help the actives plan and host rush parties and other social functions. The patronesses would invite the girls into their homes for luncheons, teas, bridge parties, and dances, often at considerable expense to themselves, I suspect.
One such Omega patroness was Mrs. Mary Coleman Herget; she would later become Dean of Women at LSU. She lived across the street from the ADPi chapter house and was so helpful and well-liked that she was made an honorary ADPi. She had two daughters that became Omegas.
The latter half of the first decade of Omega brought World War I and the flu pandemic. During the war, Omegas knitted for the Red Cross. When the flu outbreak hit LSU in 1918, all but one Omega caught it. LSU was closed for 5 weeks. The students had only a one-week Christmas break to make up for the lost class time.
In the fall of 1919, Omega leased a large house on College Ave. Most of the girls, if not all, lived there along with a chaperon.
In 1924, Omega began investing money in a house fund and the Omega alums gave the chapter a benefit card party to raise money for it. In the fall, the chapter was able to move into a new house.
In 1926, LSU moved to the present-day campus. There was no housing for women on the new campus and would not be until Pleasant Hall was built in the 1930s. The Pentagon Barracks on the old campus were converted to women’s dorms. The ADPi’s were required to leave their house and move into the dorms.
In 1930, the Omegas got rid of the old Sigma Nu house and built a new chapter house. It was of colonial architecture and had a living room, bathroom, and kitchenette. It was located near the dorms and overlooked the Mississippi River.
The LSU Panhellenic council continued to endeavor to improve rush and, for a while, the rules governing rush parties seemed to change from year to year. For example, in 1930, Panhellenic decreed that each sorority could give five teas as rush parties. In 1932, the Omegas gave 4 Rush parties:
#1: “Morning Coffee” at the chapter house
#2: Tea at the chapter house
#3: Formal Dinner Dance at the Westdale Country Club
#4: Tea at the chapter house
In the spring of 1931, Panhellenic petitioned LSU to allow sororities to build houses to live in on campus. The request was denied.
In addition to the patronesses, the sororities received other support from the community. For example, in 1933, a local drugstore, Stroubes, sponsored a day for each sorority on campus and that day the sorority would get a percentage of the profits earned that day.
Here is an email that Malette Dowling Reed received from Doris Broussard Bentley. She writes:
“I attended LSU from September, 1935 – MAY, 1938. Dot Chappuis was president of the chapter. It was the era of the big bands, and every sorority and fraternity had an annual formal dance and a “tea dance” (no tea was served, but because it was “tea time” –5-8) Both events were a big deal. I can’t for the life of me remember other activities. But what I do remember were the members of the sorority who were such outstanding women. As for memories of LSU, Huey was shot in August, 1935, but we enjoyed the fruits of his influence–the train full of students who went on out-of-state football trips, for example. Also, the arrival of our new mascot, MIKE the tiger. We were awakened one morning to the sound of band members blowing their horns at the dormitory telling us that the students had declared a holiday from classes so that we could welcome MIKE who was arriving on campus by train that morning. Imagine the whole student body, with the LSU band members welcoming a tiger!!! The band played, “Hold That Tiger!”
— Doris B. Bentley, 1938, 1956, 1971″
In May of 1939, Omega celebrated her 25th birthday with a silver anniversary dance in the Huey P. Long Field house. They also had a Founder’s day banquet to which every alum was invited. Omega’s first president, Kathleen Hummel Rolston presided over the banquet. There was a cake with 25 candles. An alum from each of Omega’s 25 years came up to light a candle. The alumnae presented the chapter with a Winston Rogers tea service.
Back then, the Huey P. Long Field house was quite the happening place. In addition to the swimming pool that we are familiar with, it also had a soda fountain, restaurant, and post office.
By 1940, LSU had a Panhellenic building. The sororities each rented a chapter room in the building.
When the US entered World War II, the activities of the Omegas changed to those more focused on the war effort. Omegas volunteered as air raid wardens, purchased war bonds and stamps, rolled bandages for the Red Cross, and entertained soldiers at the USO. There was even an Omega studying welding, our very own Rosie the Riveter!
In the summer of 1942, Omega was the first sorority to participate in a radio quiz program competing against soldiers from Harding Field (now the Baton Rouge airport). We won!
In the spring 1943 issue of The Adelphean, there is an article about Omega and LSU entitled “Deep South”. According to the article, there were 14 sororities on campus then and Omega had 60 members.
While the men were away at war, there was an in-flux of female students, which resulted in a severe housing shortage. So after the war, LSU built several women’s dorms on campus, but no sorority houses. At some point, the sororities began to use the living rooms of the dorms to have rush parties.
Once the war was over and the men came back, the enrollment of women at LSU decreased. This affected the size of pledge classes as noted in The Adelphean chapter letter about the fall 1949 rush: “Omega along with other sororities had a lowered membership quota due to fewer graduating classes in Louisiana.” Omega was only allowed to pledge 11 sisters.
1951 was the 100th birthday of ADPi. A Centennial Celebration was held at convention in Macon, Georgia that year. Omega, along with fellow chapters in the Beta province, was in charge of hosting an Old South Tea honoring women from other sororities that were invited to the celebration. Three Omegas attended the Centennial Convention.
A painting of Eugenia Tucker Fitzgerald that was commissioned by national was unveiled at the Centennial Celebration. The artist, Glascock Reynolds, painted the portrait from a daguerreotype of Eugenia around the age she was when she and the other charter members founded the Adelphean Society. The artist’s grandmother and great-aunt were both ADPi’s. A copy of this painting hangs in just about all of the chapter houses. By the way, Eugenia lived to be 95. She died in 1929.
Omega and Epsilon celebrated the Centennial at Louisiana State day on November 4, 1950. It was a football weekend and before the game on Saturday, the LSU public relations director spoke to the actives and alums and congratulated them on ADPi’s 100th birthday. Earlier that day, the Louisiana ADPi’s attended a banquet at the Tropicana. After the football game, at which ADPi and the Centennial were recognized, there was an open house at the chapter room. Then, the Epsilons and Omegas had a slumber party at one of the Omega member’s plantation home.
Omega also celebrated the Centennial at their formal in March of 1951. A huge birthday cake with 100 candles was placed on the stage. Decorations included Spanish moss, violets, and magnolia leaves.
In 1954, Grand President Maxine Blake visited Omega. Omega had two rummage sales to raise money to redecorate the chapter room.
In 1957, Omega set up a house corporation and hoped to have a house in 5 years. In the fall of 1957, there was an epidemic of Asiatic flu and many girls were forced to drop out of rush. Sororities were allowed to have one party a week later.
In 1960, the alumnae chapter presented the first ADPi “Guide for Brides” fashion show sponsored by DH Holmes, with chapter members and alums as models. The Mother’s Club was also started in 1960.
Omega celebrated its 50th year in May of 1964. The celebration included a luncheon at the Faculty Club, guided tours of campus on the LSU Tiger Train, and a banquet in the Cotillion Room in the Union. Grand President Maxine Blake attended, as well as Omega’s first president Kathleen Hummel Rolston. At a reception in the Union on Sunday afternoon, Omega presented LSU with a painting that they had commissioned of the late Mary Coleman Herget.
The enrollment of women at LSU had been steadily increasing since 1960. As the sororities grew, the Panhellenic building suffered from severe overcrowding. Some sororities even cut their quotas because their chapter rooms were too small for all of the actives and pledges to meet at one time.
Finally, in 1964, after over 30 years of saying “no”, the LSU Board of Supervisors agreed to let the sororities build houses on campus. Why had LSU taken so long to allow sorority houses on campus? According to some information on the subject that I serendipitously stumbled upon, the LSU administrators feared the loss of camaraderie among the women students if the sororities moved out of the dorms, thinking that the non-sorority girls would feel left out. They feared the loss of control over the sorority girls, thinking that their grades would go down once the girls left the dorms. Two Omegas, Barbara and Anne Dunn, both Dorothy Shaw Award recipients in 1964, played pivotal roles in finally convincing the LSU administration to allow the sorority houses.
LSU leased the land to the sororities for $1/year for 99 years and guaranteed loans for the money to build. The sororities had a lottery to decide who got what lot. ADPi had a ground-breaking ceremony in the spring of 1965. The houses were supposed to be completed by the fall of 1965, but a labor strike and Hurricane Betsy caused construction delays. When the girls came back to school that fall expecting to move into the sorority houses, they had no place to live. It was too late for them to get dorm rooms, so the families wrote letters to the Dean of Women requesting permission for the girls to live off campus with friends or relatives. Some of these letters can be found in the Dean of Women archives. All of the houses were completed by the spring of 1966.
I’m going to stop here… Obviously, this is a much abbreviated version of Omega’s history. I could not possibly include the multitudes of accomplishments, awards, and accolades for athleticism, beauty, brains, and talent that the Omega’s attained over the seven decades that we were on the LSU campus.
Most of the information on the women’s housing situation came from a series of interviews in the mid-1990s conducted by Melisse Campbell, an LSU grad student in the School of Mass Communications.http://www.lib.lsu.edu/special/williams/newsletters/ohnewsletter4.html#sororities
Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to the all of the chapter reporters and corresponding secretaries for diligently sending in their chapter letters to The Adelphean over the decades. For without them, we would not know many of the details that make the history of our beloved Omega chapter so rich.
Carolyn L. Booker (1980)
The Omega Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi was installed at LSU on May 29, 1914. Alpha Delta Pi was the second national sorority at LSU, with Kappa Delta becoming the first national sorority at LSU in 1909.
Following is the text of the Omega Chapter installation article from the fall 1914 Adelphean:
The Adelphean of Alpha Delta Pi Omega Chapter of Α Δ Π
Sigma Beta Tau was organized at Louisiana State University in February, 1913, with eleven charter members. In June three of the members graduated and of the remaining eight only five returned to school in September. During the year three new members were initiated, making the total membership eight active members. Their ideals and standards were very high for a local, and they held a prominent place in the social life of the University.
On May 29, 1914, Omega Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi was installed by Helen Sanders, Kathleen Black, and Bernice Steele of Epsilon Chapter, as Miss Mayfield, the Beta Province President, could not arrive before Commencement.
Every member of Omega Chapter is a member of Y.W.C.A. and Kathleen Hummell, our President, is a delegate to the convention at Blue Ridge, North Carolina. Every member belongs to a literary society and to some athletic club, either tennis, basketball, or walking club. Mary Watts is on the staff of the co-ed magazine and is in the University orchestra. Anne Walker is on the staff of the college annual, business manager of the co-ed magazine, and on the staff of the college paper. Ada Phillips is a member of the honorary Historical Society.
The scholarship of the chapter is well above the average, as they ranked next to Kappa Delta in the recent term statistics.
Charter members are: Kathleen Hummell, Baton Rouge, La.; Mary Watts, Jeanerette, La.; Vivian Scott, Kingston, La.; Ada Phillips, Evelyn, La.; Marguerite and Ruby Chennault, Baton Rouge, La.; Nannie Roberts, Jackson, La.; Annie Walker, Mansfield, La.
The officers for the coming year are: President, Kathleen Hummell; Vice-president, Marguerite Chennault; Chaplain, Vivian Scott; Guard, Mary Watts; Recording Secretary, Ada Phillips; Corresponding Secretary, Anne Walker; Treasurer, Nannie Roberts.
The chapter went inactive in 1985 and remained dormant until it was recolonized in August 2016.