Every year the Fraternity Communications Association (FCA) presents awards to fraternities and sororities for excellence in communication ranging from best alumni/alumnae engagement to social media engagement, annual report and so on. We are pleased to share that this year, Alpha Phi sorority received an award for their digital museum — the result of their partnership with HistoryIT.
The Alpha Phi Digital History site is a fun and fascinating project! Alpha Phi was founded in 1872 by ten of the first women to attend Syracuse University. With their 150-year anniversary coming up in 2022, Alpha Phi engaged HistoryIT to digitally preserve their history. Our work together has led to an extraordinary digital museum that shares a wealth of historical materials and stories.
The digital museum features a timeline of Alpha Phi’s history that viewers can either see in its entirety or filter to show only certain types of events, such as the history of Alpha Phi’s charitable activities or their leadership milestones. Visitors to the website can search by collegiate chapter or by individual member name. They can also browse the image gallery or sections dedicated to specific categories, such as scrapbooks, documents, publications, objects and more.
Beyond searching and exploring, this digital museum is presenting a wide range of stories — 150 of them to be exact!
To help frame their history, Alpha Phi’s Heritage Advisory Group identified 150 stories from throughout the sorority’s history. Each of these stories will be told in detail with photos and corresponding documents in a special section titled “150 Stories.” So far ten of the stories are online and ready for viewing. Others will be finalized and added in the coming months as the big anniversary approaches. Topics include things like facts about the founders of Alpha Phi, a look at Alpha Phi chapter houses through the years, Alpha Phi wedding traditions and much more.
Two of my favorite stories (SO FAR!) are the ones titled “Alpha Phi Amidst WWI” and “Lollipop Sales.” The WWI piece tells the story of member contributions to support the war effort. Alpha Phis in Canada stocked Toronto’s base hospital, a Minnesota chapter participated in a campaign to help POWs in Europe and Boston member Alice Maude Lawton traveled to Norway on a peace pilgrimage of unofficial Americans. Goucher member Katherine Baker served as a Red Cross nurse, a corporal in the French Army and an interpreter with the American Army in Vosges. She was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government. The full story contains more examples, as well as a discussion of the role Alpha Phis played in economic preservation and liberty bonds. Their efforts were truly remarkable and worth preserving!
The lollipop story, however, goes beyond what the name implies. In 1946 Alpha Phi selected cardiac aid as its first philanthropic activity. Their most popular fundraiser in the 1960s and 1970s was their sale of heart-shaped lollipops each February, American Heart Month. Over time, the Alpha Phi Foundation raised more than $1 million for cardiac projects.
Alpha Phi no longer sells heart-shaped lollipops, but they continue to be deeply engaged in supporting cardiac research, encouraging healthy behaviors and raising awareness of heart disease among women. Throughout the years, Alpha Phi and the Alpha Phi Foundation has been recognized for this work, receiving the American Heart Association’s “Heart and Torch Award” in 1966. In 1993, they created an annual $100,000 grant called the Heart to Heart Grant to encourage research and education to lessen the impact of heart disease in women. Previous recipients of this grant include the Duke University School of Nursing, the Texas Heart Institute, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation’s Heart Center for Women, the University of Washington Division of Cardiology and many more.
With their ever-growing, award-winning digital archive, Alpha Phi is now able to share their long history of service and philanthropy, placing their organizational history into a much broader societal context. We are thrilled beyond measure that they are being recognized for their work to digitally preserve their history. Stay tuned for updates and new stories.