The 22 Founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Mrs. Osceola McCarthy Adams was born in Albany, Georgia, and knew she could achieve all that she conceived. She did not hesitate to create an impression on the world in her own unique manner. Within the ranks of Delta, Ms. Adams called upon her prior leadership experience to aid in the founding of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In Chicago, Illinois, she was installed as the first president of Lambda, and she served as the grand treasurer of the national organization. Ms. Adams also made enormous strides in the theatrical realm of her life when she directed the debut of actors Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier.
Mrs. Marguerite Young Alexander was born in Chicago, Illinois. While at Howard University, she concentrated her studies upon two foreign languages. After graduation, she returned to Chicago where she became a French and Spanish Correspondence Secretary. In 1950, as a member of the housing group, Ms. Alexander helped the Alpha Nu chapter in the purchasing of a sorority house on the campus of the University of Illinois.
Mrs. Winona Cargile Alexander was born in Columbus Georgia, and she always made it a point to be herself. Her unique personality allowed her to flourish in any environment and appeal to many people. Ms. Alexander valued education and upon graduating, she became a teacher. Always giving back to the community and her sorority, Ms. Alexander became the first social worker for the New York City and County Charities, and she was the Alpha chapter's first Custodian.
Mrs. Ethel Cuff Black was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and derived from a very prosperous family lineage. She enjoyed fine arts and expressed this through her involvement in the Howard University Choir. She was continuously involved with community organizations, such as the YWCA, which she became chairperson of the collegiate committee from 1911-1912. After graduating, she became a teacher in the New York City public school system. In 1953, she assisted in the creation of the Queens Alumnae Chapter.
Mrs. Bertha Pitts Campbell was born in Winfield, Kansas, however she grew up in Colorado. Upon entering Howard she knew that she wanted to be an educator and make a deep impact on society, therefore she entered the Teaching College. On March 13, 1913, she participated in the march on Washington, Delta's first public act as a sorority. However, 68 years later, she repeated this momentous walk on August 2, 1981. Despite the fact that a limo was provided for her, at the grand age of 92, she refused to ride and chose to walk. Ms. Campbell became a fine educator and she spent the vast majority of her adulthood working in Seattle, Washington toward better race relations.
Mrs. Zephyr Chisom Carter was born in El Paso, Texas. During her years at Howard University, she played a very active role in the collegiate chapter of the NAACP. Her zest and fervor lead to her acknowledgment as an outstanding leader. In Delta, she became the Alpha Chapter's first Reporter. Ms. Carter was a very gifted woman who was not only a singer, but an actress as well. For several years she harnessed her vocal powers and sang for television shows.
Mrs. Edna Brown Coleman hailed from our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. Her father lead a prestigious career at Howard University for 31 years as a professor of religion. Many of the first meetings of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. were held in her living room. She was extremely dedicated and studious, thus she graduated from Howard in 1913 as Valedictorian and Class President. Upon graduating from Howard, Ms. Edna Brown wed Mr. Frank Coleman, who was the co-founder of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. This astounding woman played a crucial role in the development of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Mrs. Jessie McGuire Dent was born in Galveston, Texas. She took on a role of leadership when she was instated as the first corresponding secretary of the Alpha Chapter. This spirited, intelligent woman decided to enroll in the Teacher's College at Howard University. She became a teacher in the Galveston School District, however a fight was ahead of her. Ms. Dent took on the Galveston School District in court, and won equal wages for Black teachers.
Mrs. Frederica Chase Dodd was born in Dallas, Texas. Her family had a substantial amount of financial and social authority. She too, was enrolled in the Teacher's College. After graduating from Howard University, she took on a brief career as a teacher. She became the first Sergeant at Arms of the Alpha Chapter. In 1926, she helped to create the graduate chapter of Delta in Dallas, which became the first Greek letter organization in the city.
Mrs. Myra Davis Hemmings hailed from Gonzales, Texas. Of all the founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. she had the most assertive leadership skills. She went from being President of Alpha Kappa Alpha to being president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In her daily life she continued to be a role model by her involvement in the Alpha Phi Literary Society.
Ms. Olive C. Jones was from Washington, D.C. Like most wise people, she knew when to lead and when to follow. Ms. Jones was timid in regards to being in the "limelight", therefore it is difficult to find information in her regards. Unfortunately, she never married. She went on from Howard to become a music teacher in the Washington public school system.
The irrepressible Mrs. Jimmie Bugg Middleton was an active supporter of Delta from Lynchburgh, Virginia. She helped lobby Delta Sigma Theta to participate in the March for Women's Suffrage. In 1936, she received her Master's Degree at Howard University. By 1938, after years of effort, she witnessed her Raleigh Alumnae Chapter, Alpha Zeta Sigma, established in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1944, she was appointed to the Scholarship Board of New York's 22ndCongressional District.
Mrs. Pauline Oberdorfer Minor born in Charlottesville, Virginia, was an excellent musician. She was the Alpha's Chapter first Treasurer. In 1914, she graduated valedictorian of the Teacher's College. She was also the President of the Teacher's Club. Ms. Minor taught school in Alabama, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. She went on to publish a book entitled, "Soul Echos," which featured 40 of her own compositions. She also became a renowned mezzo-soprano recitalist.
The beautiful Mrs. Vashti Turley Murphy from Washington, D.C., graduated from M Street High School, later known as Dunbar High School. This was the first public High School for Blacks in the United States. After graduation, she attended the Minor Normal School, which was associated with Howard University. In 1908, she was appointed to teach in Washington public schools. Ms. Murphy was also an ardent supporter of the major political issues of the day-voting rights for women.
Mrs. Naomi Sewell Richardson from Washingtonville, New York, was involved in extreme activism and civic service. She was appointed to the East St. Louis public school system after graduation by Dean Lewis B. Moore. She also taught in Illinois, Princeton, New Jersey, and New York City. Ms. Richardson was the last surviving founder when she died in 1993.
Mrs. Mamie Reddy Rose, the most warm and gentle, was from a small town called Beta, in South Carolina. Although she graduated, she did not pursue her career objective further. Of all the other founding members, Ms. Rose got married and became a homemaker. Later, she received an award for her outstanding talent as a dramatic reader. On February 17, 1919, Ms. Rose passed away shortly after being married for only four years.
The scholastic Ms. Eliza Pearl Shippen was from Washington, D.C. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. from the Howard College of Arts and Sciences. She went on to receive her M.A. from the Teachers College of Columbia University and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Shippen was the only founder to pursue a Ph.D. and one of the only two founders who never married. She strongly believed in the public service of Delta.
The dedicated Mrs. Florence Letcher Toms was also from Washington, D.C. At graduation from Howard University, her diploma and scholarship was given to her by William Howard Taft. She was chosen to present to Lady Eleanor Roosevelt before an audience. Her accomplishments grew, and so did her hobbies. Ms. Toms collected elephants, which has become a hobby to Delta's all over the world.
The highly educated Mrs. Ethel Carr Watson was from Parkersburg, West Virginia. During the significant March for Women's Suffrage, Ms. Watson confided that her family told her not to march, but was forced to defy the order because she was selected to hold the banner since she was the tallest. She pursued her teaching career over a period of thirty years. She then retired and began a second career as a dramatic performer.
Mrs. Wertie Blackwell Weaver was from Kansas City, Missouri. After graduation, she was also appointed to teach in East St. Louis. She published a novel entitled "The Valley of the Poor." Her book focused on racism and poverty in the South. Ms. Weaver was a strong supporter of the Alpha Chapter's activities.
Mrs. Madree Penn White was the driving force and inspiration behind Delta Sigma Theta. She is originally from Atchison, Kansas but moved to Omaha, Nebraska. Ms. White drafted the constitution and set of by-laws. She also selected the Greek letter symbols and created the initiation ritual. She was the first female to be on the Howard University Journal's staff as editor. She was the Founder and President of the Triangle Press Company in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mrs. Edith Motte Young was from North Carolina. She was the Alpha Chapter's first Recording Secretary. Upon graduation from Howard University, she moved to Youngstown, Ohio. Later, Ms. Young began teaching at Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She went on to receive her M.A. Degree in Biblical Literature from Oberlin College in Ohio. She was also an accomplished pianist.