1917: Clarifying Convention Confusion

Zeta Chapter (Goucher) and Baltimore Alumnae Chapter were to host the 1917 Convention at the Stafford Hotel in Baltimore and they selected the last week in March, citing Baltimore’s summer heat and the convenience of the Easter vacation for travel. It proved to be an auspicious decision. One week after Convention adjourned, on April 6, 1917, President Wilson, who won his reelection in 1916 by taking a stance in favor of neutrality announced, “the world must be made safe for democracy,” and asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. All unnecessary travel was curtailed and scheduled Conventions were cancelled.

The 1917 Convention business included eliminating the confusion over the numbering of the Conventions. Unanimous approval made the 1917 Convention the 31st in the 43rd year of the Sorority, and past Conventions, beginning with the very first anniversary, were renumbered for the records. Also approved was the motion that all future Conventions be held during the summer months.

Lillian Thompson (Michigan, 1892), Gamma Phi Beta’s National Panhellenic Conference delegate, released a statistical report she prepared covering each college chapter of the Sorority. Her report led to the introduction of standards for Measurement of Chapter Efficiency across seven areas: officers, social service, uniform examinations, initiation, personal involvement, social activities and house operations.

Pictured above: A guest book from Omicron Chapter (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) with President Woodrow Wilson’s signature second from the bottom, May 19, 1917. President Wilson’s daughters, Margaret Wilson (Goucher, 1904) and Jessie Wilson Sayre (Goucher, 1905), were Gamma Phi Betas at Zeta Chapter (Goucher).