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Tri Delta History


In 1888, women were not permitted to vote, and few women were found in the workplace or at the formerly all-male universities. It was natural for women students to join together in small groups for friendship and support.


Although there were three women’s groups represented at Boston University in 1888, Sarah Ida Shaw saw a need for a group which would be different from the others. She said to her friend, Eleanor Dorcas Pond, “Let us found a society that shall be kind alike to all and think more of a girl’s inner self and character than of her personal appearance.”


So, the two young women began the work of creating a new national fraternity. Later Sarah wrote, “…The two enthusiastic friends were unaware of the fact that there was something stupendous about the task they had set hands, heads, and hearts to accomplish. They were working for a principle, and it never occurred to them that there could be such a thing as failure. Earnestness of purpose, energy, and enthusiasm had brought them both success in college and why should not these same qualities bring assurance of good fortune to the new venture.”


Not only did they found a fraternity, but at the same time, they wrote both the rituals and constitution and designed the emblems.


The choosing of the name was a joint decision. Eleanor suggested a triple letter and Sarah chose the letter and worked on the Greek mottos and passwords. Inspiration for these came from a variety of sources: Egyptian lore, Hindu mysticism, Greek, and astronomy, reflecting the wide and various interests of Sarah Ida Shaw.

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