top of page

      alpha nu HERstory ... THE LONG RED LINE



In 1927, Chicago Deltas initiated an Illini without University approval. In 1932, National President, Ethel Lemay Calamese, asked the University to authorize a chapter. With help from Sorors of Lambda (Chicago) and Chi (Indianapolis) Chapters, “five young women knelt before three tall white candles and solemnly took the oath of immortal fidelity to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority*." University and Delta records agree Alpha Nu was chartered on May 16, 1932. We believe the two Charter Members who were already Deltas were (1) Soror Anna Lois Walker Trigg (aka as Ann or Anna Walker Trigg), President, from Indianapolis who graduated from Indiana’s Butler University and (2) Soror Clover Leola Oliver who, according to the 1930 University of Iowa Hawkeye (yearbook) she received a Liberal Arts degree. She lived in the Iowa Delta House four years. In 1931, she enrolled at Chicago State University (became Chicago Teachers College), and her University of Illinois Student Ledger Card states she was a graduate student in 1932.  We believe the following five Charter Members were initiated May 16, 1932: (3) Soror Camille Evella King (Jones) Jeffers, Treasurer, was member of Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honorary Society and received a Bachelor of Arts degree, July 11, 1934; (4) Soror Lila Benjamin Teer, Recording Secretary, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics, July 11, 1934; (5) Soror Alice Marion Williams (not "Alicia Marie" or "Marian") was a Journalism major who did not graduate from the University of Illinois; (6) Soror Caroline Addy Jackson, (aka "Carolyn Addie" Jackson, the only African-American Senior girl so named in the 1930 Champaign High School Yearbook), Corresponding Secretary, was from Champaign; and (7) Soror Edna Marie Jones, Vice-President, was from Chicago.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics on July 11, 1934.     *In Search of Sisterhood, Paula J. Giddings (pp. 134-136)


According to Shaped to Its Purpose: Delta Sigma Theta -  the First Fifty Years, Mary Elizabeth Vroman, 1965:


“In those days, although Negro students were accepted by interracial colleges and universities for matriculation, there was no general acceptance when it came to lodging them in the dormitories. Negro students on such campuses usually were forced to seek lodging in such Negro homes as would cater to them, and more often than not, such homes were located a good distance from the campus, forcing the students to travel for long hours on trolleys and buses to get to school. Understandably, this was a deterrent to effective study habits. Moreover, the Negro student often had to pay excessively high rents for poor accommodations, sometimes sharing living quarters with other 'roomers' whose backgrounds made them undesirable companions.”

It was hard for small chapters to buy and maintain houses on integrated campuses. Consider the plight of Delta chapter (University of Iowa). An Iowa State Historical Society microfiche entry states a 1919 Delta/Kappa Thanksgiving banquet was held in the Delta house, touted as the first house in the history of the Sorority. Delta Chapter was the second chapter of DST to be formed on an interracial campus. They were determined to address members' housing needs, but they were small in number and not financially able to carry the full burden of equipping and managing a house. According to Shaped to Its Purpose ..., "the Iowa State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs helped purchase the first Delta house." (emphasis added). Known as the "Historic Former Delta House," 942 Iowa Avenue., Iowa City, IA, was marketed as multi-family housing in January, 2017.


The University required Panhellenic organizations have houses; without one, an organization could be declared "inactive." The problem of suitable housing for Black girls was also important to the Sorority. President Calamese wrote the Dean of Women, “…  so few as five girls will be able to meet the university requirements of maintaining a sorority house. This would improve greatly the living conditions of these students, which you remember we agreed were far from desirable."

Both Ohio State University and the University of Illinois asked Grand Chapter to help purchase houses. Founder Marguerite Young Alexander who was a member of Grand Chapter’s Housing Committee and a charter member of Lambda chapter, led the effort to acquire the Alpha Nu house. She also persuaded Lambda Deltas to help finance and support the house. Located at 905 W. Oregon St., it was first occupied in January, 1952. National President Dorothy I. Height came to the opening celebration along with other Delta dignitaries including Midwest Regional Director, Janet Hamilton. House capacity was 16: there was an attic dormitory and bedrooms on the second floor. The first cook was from New Orleans. Soror Muriel Karp, B.A., 1953, visited this website and commented, “My eyes misted when I saw the picture of the house. My roommate, the late Nina Swain, and I shared the bedroom above the entry. The pictures brought back great memories.”

Sixties' Deltas who lived in the house included Jo Lavera Kennedy Jones, Virginia Pitts Woods, Satia Marshall Orange, Johnnie Faye Coleman Fernandez, Johnnie Mae Keeton Noble, Joyce Robinson, Gwen Tarpley Hilary, and Diane Kinnard Kee.  Some of us attended rush parties and other social events at the house – all under the watchful eye of House Mother, Mrs. Erma Terrell.


Grand Chapter weighed the ongoing need to subsidize the house, other requests for houses, and the organization's re-focus on its historic service mission. At the 1962 Detroit National Convention, the body voted to sell the house. Soror Satia Marshall Orange, Alpha Nu’s Convention representative, recalls being so overcome by the decision, she had to be “carried off” the Convention floor. The house was sold that year, and since then, Alpha Nu Sorors and pledgees have lived in campus and off-campus housing. The building lot is now the site of apartment and condominium housing across from the present University Foundation facility.


Soror Jo Lavera Kennedy Jones stands tall on the shoulders of accomplished Deltas who came before her, and we stand on hers. A twenty-something neophyte with the protective instincts of a mother duck, Jo, then President, successfully petitioned the University to maintain the Chapter charter without a house. Dean of Women, Miriam Sheldon, approved the chapter as a "Service" organization reporting to her office, an action that dovetailed nicely with National President Dr. Jeanne Noble's decision to emphasize the Sorority's historic service role. Dean Sheldon, former roommate of Dr. Noble, is now an Honorary Delta.


In 1962, the small Chapter pledged 15. Twelve were eventually initiated, and the Chapter became solvent. In the Fall of 2013,  after several years of inactivity, the Chapter was reinvigorated, this time, by inducting the 46 D.S.O.R. neophytes.

Please reload

Alpha Nu Sorority House
Charter Member
Charter Member
Charter Member
Charter Member
Charter Member
Charter Member
Charter Member
Soror Abbie Lou Martin
Soror Carolyn Gipson
Gathering on Front Lawn
Fun Times at the AN House
House Living Room
Illini Yearbook Entry
Skit Night at the Alpha Nu House
Joyce Robinson
Marietta Skyles
Thelma Sterling Leftwich
After the House - Walnut Hall
Constance Rolison Corbett
Delta Magazine: Alpha Nu Recognition
National Convention, 1965
Second Vice-President, Grand Chapter
National Convention - Cleveland
Fair Housing Student Protest
Constance Rolison Corbett
Fair Housing Protest
2013 Deltas Commemorate Suffragettes
Soror Barbara Ann Teer
2013 Alpha Nu At Delta Centennial
2013 Chapter Reactivation
20 Chapter Reactivation
Greek Sing Practice
Greek Sing Practice
Premier Night 1962
1964 Fall Initiation
Pyramid Meeting
Pyramid Meeting
Premier 1965
1966 Chapter Portrait
1966 Initiation
Organizing Initiation Gifts
Friends (and Sorors) for Life
Theater Actress
Initiation of Dr. B.J. Bolden
Brunch in Chicago
Our First Reunion
Theater Night in Minneapolis
2010 Richmond Reunion
Cornelia Houston Hall
Memorial: Diane Kinnard Kee
1990 Reunion Champaign
1990 Reunion Champaign
1990 Reunion Champaign
1990 Reunion Champaign
1990 Reunion Champaign
1990 Reunion Champaign
1993 Reunion Colorado Mountains
1996 Reunion Fort Lauderdale
1998 Reunion Belleville
2000 Reunion Phoenix
2000 Reunion Phoenix
2002 Reunion Washington, DC
2004 Reunion Chicago
2004 Reunion Chicago
2008 Reunion San Francisco
2010 Reunion Minneapolis
2010 Reunion Minneapolis
2012 Reunion Richmonds
2012 Reunion Richmond
2014 Reunion Savannah, GA
2014 City Council Chambers
2014 Reunion Savannah
2014 Reunion Savannah
2016 Reunion Las Vegas
2016 Reunion Las Vegas: Long Dam Day


Lila Benjamin Teer      Caroline Addy (Carolyn Addie) Jackson    

Edna Marie Jones     Camille Evella King (Jones) Jeffers

Clover Leola Oliver     Anna Lois Walker Trigg  

Alice Marion Williams


bottom of page