Alpha Kappa Alpha History
Founded on January 15, 1908 the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-trained women. Nine juniors and seniors who constituted the initial core group of founding members and seven sophomores who were extended an invitation for membership without initiation comprised what are acknowledged as Alpha Kappa Alpha’s original 16 founders. Led by Ethel Hedgeman (Lyle), the nine Howard University students crafted a design that not only fostered interaction, stimulation, and ethical growth among members; but also provided hope for the masses. The small group of women was conscious of their privileged position as college-trained women of color just one generation removed from slavery. But at the same time, they were sensitive to the needs and struggles of the less fortunate in underserved communities in their hometowns and in other environs beyond their travels who were in need of goods, services and opportunities beyond their reach. The young collegians’ commitment to scholarship, leadership, civic engagement and public service, woven together by the bonds of lifelong sisterhood, formed the bedrock of the rich legacy of servant-leadership that epitomizes the sorority to this day.
After her incorporation as a perpetual body on January 29, 1913, Alpha Kappa Alpha gradually branched out and became the channel through which selected college-trained women improved the social and economic conditions in their city, state, nation and the world. The Sorority continued to keep in balance two important themes: the importance of the individual and the strength of an organization of women of ability and courage. Through the years, Alpha Kappa Alpha’s program has had as its chief aim “service to all mankind”. Today, that tradition has continued--internationally, nationally and locally, and the purpose has always remained to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, to promote unity and friendship among college women, to study and help alleviate problems concerning girls and women in order to improve their social stature, to maintain a progressive interest in college life, and to serve mankind through a nucleus of more than 300,000 women in 1,026 chapters.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Founders
Led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, the nine Howard University students who came together to form Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority were the scholastic leaders of their classes. Each also had a special talent or gift that further enhanced the potential of this dynamic group.
The Original Group: Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Slowe and Marie Woolfolk Taylor
The Sophomores: Norma Boyd, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Alice Murray, Sarah Meriweather Nutter, Joanna Berry Shields, Carrie Snowden and Harriet Terry
With the exception of Ethel, the original group of women was comprised of college seniors. To ensure the continuity of the organization, seven Class of 1910 honor students who had expressed interest were invited to join without initiation.
The Incorporators: Norma Boyd, Julia Brooks, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Nellie Quander, Nellie Pratt Russell and Minnie Smith
Nellie Quander was elected president in 1911. Under her visionary leadership, Alpha Kappa Alpha initiated a dynamic plan of expansion. The first step of establishing a national body in perpetuity was taken in 1913 when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was legally incorporated.
For more information about Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, visit www.aka1908.com.