1931: The First Pledge Manual

Convention delegates and visitors assembled at Birchmont Beach Hotel in Bemidji, Minnesota, in June 1931 for Gamma Phi Beta’s 37th Convention. Two hundred and seventy-five women, fewer than usual for a Convention, gathered in this wilderness setting near the Canadian border. The $5-a-day hotel rate included meals, boating and tennis.

At Convention they learned that the Vancouver Alumnae Chapter had opened a second camp and that the chapters themselves were flourishing, thanks to some very astute financial management. The value of Gamma Phi Beta’s 21 chapter houses approximated $1 million.

The Convention body authorized a pledge manual to be printed and distributed to chapters for the first time. Back in 1927, Gladys Borland (Northwestern, 1915), a Chicago alumna member, was commissioned to prepare a handbook for pledges. She studied the manual compiled by Nina Gresham (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1913), a charter member of Omicron Chapter, which was in use at Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The manual went through a trial run during the 1929 Province Conferences and was accepted at the 1931 Convention without modification. Though it has undergone revisions since then, Miss Gresham and Mrs. Borland are considered co-authors of Gamma Phi Beta’s first official pledge manual.

Pictured above: Gamma Phi Beta’s first official pledge manual.