Gamma Phi Beta

Gamma Phi Beta (ΓΦΒ, also known as GPhi or Gamma Phi) is an international college sorority. It was founded in Syracuse University in 1874, and was the first of the Greek organizations to call itself a sorority.[2][3] The term "sorority" was coined for Gamma Phi Beta by Dr. Frank Smalley, a professor at Syracuse University.[4]

Gamma Phi Beta
Gamma Phi Beta.png
FoundedNovember 11, 1874; 147 years ago (1874-11-11)
Syracuse University, (Syracuse, NY)
MottoFounded On A Rock
Colors  Blush (pink) and   A-la-Mode (brown/gray)[1]
SymbolCrescent Moon
FlowerPink Carnation
PublicationThe Crescent
PhilanthropyBuilding Strong Girls, Camp Fire, Girl Guides of Canada, Girls on the Run
Chapters187 collegiate, 175+ alumnae
Members200,000+ lifetime
Headquarters12737 E. Euclid Drive
Centennial, Colorado

The sorority's international headquarters are located in Centennial, Colorado. As of 2016, Gamma Phi Beta listed more than 200,000 initiated members, 130 chartered collegiate chapters and more than 155 alumnae groups in the United States and Canada.[5]

Early HistoryEdit

Colleges and universities admitted few women students in the 1870s. Erastus Otis Haven, Syracuse University chancellor and former president of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University instead maintained that women should receive the advantages of higher education and enrolled his daughter, Frances, at Syracuse.

Founders of Gamma Phi Beta


Frances Haven and three friends organized their own society. Gamma Phi Beta Society was subsequently founded on November 11, 1874, at Syracuse University by:

  • Helen M. Dodge
  • Frances E. Haven
  • E. Adeline Curtis
  • Mary A. Bingham.[6]

The founders had originally selected light blue as the official color but changed it in 1875 to brown and mode (dark and light brown).[7] The society's first initiate, Clara Worden, joined in March 1875.

For its first several years Gamma Phi Beta was simply known as a society; it had never used the term fraternity. It was the first of the national women's organizations to adopt the word "sorority", coined in 1882 on behalf of the Syracuse chapter by one of the Latin professors on the faculty. From 1882 the organization was known as Gamma Phi Beta Sorority.[2]

Gamma Phi Beta is a member of the Syracuse Triad, the name given to the three women's sororities founded at Syracuse University.[8] Alpha Phi was founded first in 1872 by 10 of the original 20 women admitted into Syracuse University. Gamma Phi Beta came along two years later in 1874 and Alpha Gamma Delta completed the triad in 1904. Syracuse Triad ceremonies or events are held on most campuses with chapters of all three groups.[9]

Expansion and Later HistoryEdit

Gamma Phi Beta expanded slowly at first. The sorority's second chapter, Beta chapter at the University of Michigan was placed in 1882, followed in 1885 by Gamma chapter at Wisconsin. Over the next ten years, the sorority expanded into the Midwest and to eastern schools. In 1894 Gamma Phi Beta expanded to the West Coast, to the University of California and at Washington, Oregon and Idaho.[2]

Gamma Phi Beta's first convention was held in Syracuse in 1883, with annual sessions held until 1907. After that year, conventions became biennial, offset with a Leadership Training School held in the off-convention years.[2]

In 1891, Gamma Phi Beta joined the National Panhellenic Conference's (NPC) as a founding member.

The crest, of coat of arms, of Gamma Phi Beta was adopted after a national crest design competition following the 1915 Convention. The winning crest was designed by Gertrude Comfort Morrow (California-Berkeley, 1913). In 1965 the use of color was officially included in the crest.

Frances E. Haven went on to assist in founding Omicron chapter at the University of Illinois in 1913. Omicron is the only other chapter established by one of the original founders.

In 1919 establishment of Alpha Alpha chapter at the University of Toronto, in Canada, made the sorority international.[2]


  • Gamma Phi Beta's symbol is the crescent moon.
  • Its flower is the pink carnation.
  • The official colors of Gamma Ph Beta have long been pink and shades of brown. At first, designated by "Brown and Mode", brown to honor Dr. John J. Brown's role at the sorority's founding, along with 'mode', meant as any stylish and complementary color of the day. In 2006 an extensive re-branding effort adopted updates to several of the symbols used along with the society's colors. The "primary pallet" of   "Blush" (pink) and   "A-la-Mode" (brown/gray) is now explained:

"To modernize our meaningful colors, we lightened the pink to blush and combined light brown with warm gray, creating a shade we call A-La-Mode. The updated colors exude femininity and strength; they are timeless and confident like our membership."

  • Secondary colors were chosen and are listed as   Once in A Blue Moon,   Pearl,   Brownstone and   Carnation. The branding page explains these as "...the perfect accessories to our primary palette." [10]

The carnation was named the official flower at Convention 1888, while pink was designated the official color of the carnation in 1950. Carnations have been revered for more than 2,000 years as one of the most long-lasting flowers. Many varieties produce a clove-like scent, and the aroma is said to be both uplifting and motivating.

The open motto is "Founded on a Rock".[11]

The Gamma Phi Beta crest, or coat of arms is in the shape of a shield featuring three pink carnations on a white background, an open book on a light brown background, and a waxing crescent moon on dark brown background. At the top of the shield is a golden oil lamp and at the bottom of the shield is a banner displaying the Greek letters Γ, Φ, and Β.[11] The crest is only to be worn by initiated members.

The Gamma Phi Beta badge has not significantly changed since its design in 1874. It was designed by Tiffany & Co. It features a black crescent moon cradling the Greek letters, Gamma, Phi and Beta. Badges are currently produced by jeweler Herff Jones with customization options such as a gold or silver finish or adding jewels.

The badges worn by International Council members are larger and feature white crescent moons instead of black. The international president's badge is set with diamonds on the Greek letters; other international officers' badges are set with pearls. In 1902, a triangular-shaped shield of dark brown on which rests a crescent of gold was approved as the badge for uninitiated new members.

Philanthropy and community serviceEdit

Gamma Phi Beta provided humanitarian supplies during both WWI and WWII. Donation containers were placed throughout the United States by chapters, with the funds collected directed at the end of WWI to the relief of French war orphans.[2]

In 1929, camping for girls was designated the official philanthropy of Gamma Phi Beta, leading to support of Camp Fire and Girl Guides of Canada.[12]

In WWII, funds were raised that supported a Mobile Canteen for Great Britain, and contributions were raised for the American Red Cross, the Queen's Canadian Fund for air raid victims throughout Great Britain, and the Army and Navy Relief Societies. Its War bonds drive campaign resulted in four drives that raised $14M, earning the sorority two U.S. Treasury citations for distinguished service rendered on behalf of the War Finance Program.[2]

At Convention 2012, a new philanthropic focus was adopted: "to provide experiences and resources that build spiritual, mental and social resiliency in girls" and the sorority partnered with Girls on the Run. The official philanthropy of Gamma Phi Beta is Building Strong Girls. Gamma Phi Beta's current philanthropic focus is, "We are women building strong girls."[12]


Every initiated member has a lifelong membership in Gamma Phi Beta and may participate in alumnae activities on the local, regional and international level. Women who have never been initiated to a National Panhellenic Conference sorority may be eligible to join Gamma Phi Beta through the alumnae initiate program. Once a woman is initiated into Gamma Phi Beta, she is no longer allowed to join any other National Panhellenic Conference sorority. One standard of membership is paying dues each semester during a member's college years and, once she graduates, paying a yearly due to International Headquarters.[13]


Notable alumnaeEdit







  • Lauren Sinclair (Delta Omega) – United States Sailing Team Member, Olympic Sailing Campaigner and ISAF World Cup of Sailing Participant.[14]
  • Caroline Casey (Alpha Chi) – Keeper at Sky Blue FC, Piscataway Township, New Jersey


Many Gamma Phi Beta chapters have on-campus housing for members. Housing may be run by the Gamma Phi Beta national organization or an alumna-run local Affiliated Housing Corporation. Several Gamma Phi Beta sorority houses are registered as historical homes, including:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Sorority Symbols". Gamma Phi Beta. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Anson, Jack L.; Marchenasi, Robert F., eds. (1991) [1879]. Baird's Manual of American Fraternities (20th ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Baird's Manual Foundation, Inc. p. IV-41–43. ISBN 978-0963715906.
  3. ^ "The History of Syracuse University Fraternity and Sorority Community". Syracuse University. 2010. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
  4. ^ Becque, Fran; Ph.D. (2013-08-12). "Women's Fraternities, Sororities, and Dr. Frank Smalley". Fraternity History & More. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  5. ^ "Membership". Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  6. ^ "Our History | Gamma Phi Beta". Retrieved 2017-03-29.
  7. ^ "1875: The Colors • History of Gamma Phi Beta". Retrieved 2016-06-13.
  8. ^ Hultsch, Margaret Knights, Former Editor, Alpha Phi Quarterly. "Syracuse Triad". Alpha Gamma Delta Quarterly. Archived from the original on 1999-04-21. Retrieved 2009-10-14.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Syracuse Triad". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
  10. ^ According to the sorority's Our Brand description, on its website. Accessed 21 Sept 2020.
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ a b Philanthropy notes according to the Philanthropy section of the sorority's website, accessed 21 Sept 2020.
  13. ^ "Gamma Phi Beta Membership". Gamma Phi Beta. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Prominent Gamma Phi Betas". Gamma Phi Beta. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
  15. ^ Gamma Phi Beta The Buzz[permanent dead link], October 2010
  16. ^ "Member to shine in Broadway musical". Gamma Phi Beta. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
  17. ^ "Spotlight On: Life Abroad". The Crescent of Gamma Phi Beta. July 1, 2005. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved 2008-06-24.

External linksEdit