Throwback: Greeks in national, University history

Media Credit: Photo courtesy the Library of Congress through a gift from U.S. News & World Report.

J. Edgar Hoover was a Kappa Alpha brother while he was a student at GW.

Media Credit: Photo courtesy the Library of Congress through a gift from U.S. News & World Report.
J. Edgar Hoover was a Kappa Alpha brother while he was a student at GW.

Your Greek roots go back further than those old letter T-shirts your grandbig gave you. Since Greek life was established at GW more than 150 years ago, sororities and fraternities have become a part of University history, now making up a third of our campus population. Greek life has made its way into national history, too, with famous former members including a president’s daughter and the first FBI director.

Here are highlights from the histories of some chapters that are still active today.

1. Sigma Chi

In 1864, during the height of the Civil War, the GW chapter of Sigma Chi hosted the fraternities’ national meeting in D.C., the fraternity’s president, Eric Estroff, said.

“There were chapters from the South and North that met at the GW Sigma Chi chapter to have a national fraternity meeting,” Estroff said. “It’s very cool to look back on the history.”

2. Pi Beta Phi

Pi Beta Phi was the first women’s fraternity at GW when it was established in 1889, chapter president Carson Rolleri said. Rolleri is a former staff writer for the Hatchet’s culture section.

GW’s chapter has several prominent alumnae, including Margaret Truman, the daughter of President Harry Truman. When she attended GW, the chapter held several events at the White House, Rolleri said.

3. Delta Gamma

Mary Ellen Hardies, the director of communications for Delta Gamma’s national headquarters, said Delta Gamma originally declined to colonize at GW in 1942 after the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The sorority then colonized at the University in May 1945.

Delta Gamma was suspended in 1982 because of a lack of campus interest. They regained their charter on campus in April 1990.

4. Kappa Alpha Order

Originally founded in 1894, GW’s Kappa Alpha Order boasts famous alumni like J. Edgar Hoover, who would go onto become the first director of the FBI.

5. Phi Kappa Psi

The University’s Phi Kappa Psi chapter was founded in 1868. Three decades later, the entire chapter signed up to fight in the Spanish-American War. Without enough active members on campus, their charter was recalled, and the fraternity did not reestablish itself until 1987.

Jacqueline Thomsen contributed reporting.

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