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Alpha Chi Omega
Founded October 15, 1885 (1885-10-15) (124 years ago)
DePauw University, (Greencastle, Indiana)
Type Social
Scope International
Motto Together let us seek the heights
Colors      Scarlet Red

     Olive Green

Symbol Golden Lyre
Flower Red Carnation
Philanthropy Alpha Chi Omega Foundation
Chapters 135
Members 210,000+ collegiate
Headquarters 5939 Castle Creek Parkway North Dr.
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Alpha Chi Omega (ΑΧΩ, also known as A-Chi-O or Alpha Chi) is a women's fraternity founded on October 15, 1885. Currently, there are more than 135 chapters of Alpha Chi Omega at colleges and universities across the United States and more than 200,000 lifetime members. Alpha Chi Omega's official symbol is the three-stringed lyre.[1]



The founders of Alpha Chi Omega
Alpha Chapter at Depauw University, 1885

Alpha Chi Omega was formed at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana on October 15, 1885.[2] Notably, Kappa Alpha Theta was also founded at DePauw University.[3]

In the fall of 1885, Professor James Hamilton Howe, the first Dean of the Music School, invited seven young women from the school to a meeting with the purpose of forming a fraternity.[2] Those young women were Anna Allen, Olive Burnett, Bertha Deniston, Amy DuBois, Nellie Gamble, Bessie Grooms, and Estelle Leonard.[2] Howe himself was not a member of a Greek fraternity, so he consulted with James G. Campbell, a Beta Theta Pi, on the proper procedures for founding a Greek-letter fraternity.[3] Campbell was thus responsible for laying out the first constitution and by-laws.[3] This first constitution read: "The object of this fraternity is as follows: To attain the highest musical culture and to cultivate those principles that embody true womanhood."[3] On February 26, 1886, the fraternity was given its formal introduction by a soiree musical.[3]

Early musical requirements

Although some association with the music school was required early on, Alpha Chi Omega was never a "strictly musical" organization.[3] Members graduated in many other departments of the university, including the liberal arts department.[3] In 1889, a national literary fraternity offered to merge with Alpha Chi Omega, however, Alpha Chi never considered taking members of other fraternities, unlike professional fraternities.[3]

Meaning of Alpha Chi Omega

Alpha Chi Omega's Founders chose "Alpha" (Α), the first letter of the Greek alphabet, because they were forming the first fraternity in the school of music. Since they thought they might also be founding the last such fraternity, "Omega" (Ω) seemed appropriate.[2] "Kai", meaning "and", was added to form "the beginning and the end".[2] "Kai" was soon changed to "Chi" (Χ), a letter of the Greek alphabet.[2] The first house included 27 women, and has become much larger throughout the years. Alpha Chi Omega no longer has any musical connections, but the legacy and talent of its founders remains in its symbol and symphony.

The open motto is "Together let us seek the heights."

Alpha Chi Omega's colors of scarlet red and olive green were chosen to commemorate the fraternity's fall founding. The symbol is a lyre and the official flower is a red carnation, exemplifying the Fraternity's colors.

The lyre symbol of Alpha Chi Omega was chosen by the founders after much research, and it was designed by James G. Campbell (an undergraduate member of Beta Theta Pi men's fraternity, who acted as librarian for DePauw's School of Music). The lyre, a replica of a three-stringed harp, was chosen because it stayed true to the members' musical interest, as music unites the souls of many. According to Greek mythology, the first instrument played by the gods on Mt. Olympus was a lyre.

The badge of Alpha Chi Omega is a Greek lyre of gold, having three twisted strings spanned diagonally by a raised and slightly rounded scroll of black enamel bearing the Greek letters Alpha Chi Omega in gold. Founder Bertha Deniston's badge is the only one of the five original badges still in existence. It is on display at the fraternity's headquarters.

The coat of arms includes a square shield, a crest, and a scroll. The shield is red, with a bar of olive green. The first section of the shield displays a book in gold; at the base is a sheaf of wheat, also in gold. The bar has three white stars. The crest, a lyre bird, is in its natural color. The scroll at the bottom bears the Greek translation of the open motto, "Together let us seek the heights."

There are 136 chapters of Alpha Chi Omega at colleges and universities in the United States. There are also many active alumnae chapters. The alumnae chapters allow women of all post-graduate ages to come together and continue the mission and values of Alpha Chi Omega. Alpha Chi Omega collegiate chapters work directly with alumnae chapters to link sisters from around the country. In addition, alumnae chapters continue the cause of working to eliminate domestic violence.

Alpha Chi Omega is a founding member of the National Panhellenic Conference.

Mission statement

Alpha Chi Omega is a national women's organization that enriches the lives of members through lifetime opportunities for friendship, leadership, learning, and service.

Reaching the Heights

Alpha Chi Omega prides itself on maintaining five standards:

Personal Development, Character, Financial Responsibility, Academic Interest, and Leadership Ability

Important dates

Members of Alpha Chi Omega have enjoyed the same heritage and traditions since 1885. Some of these special dates celebrated by Alpha Chi Omega include:

  • Founders' Day — Sisters gather on October 15th of each year to recognize the fraternity’s fall founding at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. On Founders' Day, members wear their badges, along with scarlet and olive green ribbons.
  • Hera Day — On March 1st of each year, members recognize the fraternity's commitment to helping others by conducting service projects and offering assistance to others.
  • MacDowell Month — Every February, Alpha Chi Omega women celebrate the fine arts and their fine-arts heritage.
  • Chapter Founders' Days — Each collegiate chapter recognizes its founding anniversary annually.
  • The National Convention — Members join together every two years to conduct fraternity business, reunite with fellow Alpha Chis, and celebrate Alpha Chi Omega.

The symphony of Alpha Chi Omega

"My Symphony"

To see beauty even in the common things of life.

To shed the light of love and friendship round me.

To keep my life in tune with the world that I shall make no discords in the harmony of life.

To strike on the lyre of the universe only the notes of happiness, of joy, of peace.

To appreciate every little service rendered.

To see and appreciate all that is noble in another,

Be her badge what it may.

And to let my lyre send forth the chords of love, unselfishness, sincerity.

This is to be my symphony.

-Celia McClure, Delta Chapter: Allegheny College, 1914


In 1911 Alpha Chi Omega began supporting the MacDowell Colony, as MacDowell was an alumna of Alpha Chi Omega.[4] During World War I and II Alpha Chi Omega offered its support by helping working mothers who were married to service men by providing day nurseries and helping orphaned French children. In 1947 Alpha Chi Omega adopted Easter Seals as its philanthropy.[4]

In 1978 the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation was created to help support the philanthropic projects and educational programming supported by the organization.[4] In 1992 it was decided that Alpha Chi Omega's current national altruistic project would be the support of Victims of Domestic Violence.[4] Alpha Chi Omega voted to change primary philanthropies during the 1980s after the National Board became aware of the prevalence of domestic violence, with very little remedy offered to victims, both financially and emotionally. Alpha Chi Omega was the first American women's fraternity to tackle the problems of domestic violence head-on, not just by assisting victims, but by educating its members against it.[citation needed] Alpha Chi Omega continues its support of Easter Seals.

Through many funds and grants the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation also helps to support members and those closely related to Alpha Chi Omegas. This is to ensure that support is continuously available for all sisters.[5]

Individual chapters focus their attention on increasing the awareness of the domestic violence, the destruction it causes to individuals, families, and children, as well as actively aiding victims of domestic violence through hands-on activities and service projects. This work is done through local agencies, which undergraduate and alumnae chapters support physically and financially. Local agencies include rape crisis centers, emergency shelters and safe houses for victims of domestic violence and their children, and long-term assistance centers for battered women across the nation.

Alpha Chi Omega supports Kristin's Story in cooperation with Delta Delta Delta.[6]

Notable alumnae


  1. ^ Alpha Chi Omega
  2. ^ a b c d e f "About AXΩ". Alpha Chi Omega. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Armstrong, Florence A.; Mabel Harriet Siller (1922). History of Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity (1885-1921) (3 ed.). Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity. 
  4. ^ a b c d "About Chi Omega Foundation History". Alpha Chi Omega. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  5. ^ "Alpha Chi Omega Foundation". Alpha Chi Omega. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  6. ^ Kristin's Story
  7. ^ "Alpha Chi Omega Foundation Newsletter" (PDF). Alpha Chi Omega. 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "About ΑΧΩ Notable Alumnae". Alpha Chi Omega. Archived from the original on 2010-02-10. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  9. ^ "Aubrey Style - Interview". Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  10. ^ Iwata, Edward (March 24, 2003), Watkins gets frank about days at Enron, USA Today,, retrieved 2008-01-04 

External links

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