- The History of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority
Colleges and universities admitted few women students in the 1870s; some administrators and faculty members argued women had inferior minds and could not master mathematics and the classics. Regardless, Dr. Erastus Otis Haven, Syracuse University chancellor and former president of the University of Michigan and Northwestern University maintained that women should receive the advantages of higher education and enrolled his daughter, Frances E. Haven, at Syracuse.
After considering an invitation to join the then two-year old Alpha Phi Fraternity, Frances instead asked three friends to assist her in organizing their own society. They sought the advice and help of Dr. Haven, their brothers, the faculty and members of two existing fraternities. Gamma Phi Beta was subsequently founded by Helen M. Dodge, Frances E. Haven, E. Adeline Curtis and Mary A. Bingham on November 11, 1874, at Syracuse University.
The women had originally selected the colors light and dark blue but changed them in 1875 to brown and mode (light and dark brown) in honor of Dr. J.J. Brown, whose study was used for Friday afternoon meetings of Gamma Phi Beta.
The first initiate, Clara Worden, joined in March 1875. Gamma Phi Beta is a member of the Syracuse Triad, the name given to the three women's sororities founded at Syracuse University. Alpha Phi was founded first in 1872 by 10 of the original 20 women admitted into Syracuse University. Gamma Phi Beta came along two years later in 1874 and Alpha Gamma Delta completed the triad in 1904.
Frances E. Haven went on to assist in founding Omicron Chapter at the University of Illinois. Omicron is the only other chapter founded by one of the original founders. Frances E. Haven Moss is also buried in a cemetery on campus at the University of Illinois.
- Gamma Phi Beta's Four Founders
Helen M. Dodge
Helen Mary Dodge was born September 26, 1850 in Verona, New York. She was a member of the second freshman class at Syracuse University, took the classical course and graduated in 1876. A talented musician and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and other organizations, Helen's chief interest was the mission work sponsored by her church. She married the Reverend J. V. Ferguson, who preceded her in death. Helen died October 21, 1937, leaving a substantial bequest to Syracuse University for scholarships for members of Gamma Phi Beta.
Francis E. Haven
Frances E. Haven was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 27, 1854, while her father was teaching at the University of Michigan. When he became president of Northwestern University, Frances entered with the first group of women students. After he was named chancellor of Syracuse University, she transferred there and graduated in 1877. Her diploma, signed by her father, is displayed in Gamma Phi Beta International Headquarters. Frances married Charles M. Moss in 1878 and moved with him to the University of Illinois where she was instrumental in establishing Omicron Chapter. She died June 16, 1937.
E. Adeline Curtis
Eunice Adeline Curtis was born on December 22, 1854 in Moravia, New York. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1878 with a bachelor's degree in music. She married Frank Curtis and they had one son, Edward. Adeline was the soprano soloist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Syracuse for 33 years. She died January 14, 1923.
Mary A. Bingham
Mary Alice Bingham was born in Watertown, New York on August 30, 1856. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1878 with a degree in art. In 1883, she married M. E. Willoughby, who died in 1913. They had two children, a son Francis and a daughter Ernestine. Mary Willoughby and Helen Ferguson were the only Founders who were able to continue their close association after their college years, as both lived in Utica, New York. Mary died on January 14, 1916.