Conventions from Pi Beta Phi on Vimeo.
A Time to Gather Together
Since the first Grand Alpha Convention was held in 1867 at the home of Fannie Thomson, Pi Beta Phi has met regularly to conduct business of the Fraternity. Convention is the legislative body, also empowered to levy taxes, receive reports and review work of national officers, provide for development of the Fraternity, elect national officers and render final decisions on all questions (Note: that the newspaper article cited in the video above is in error about that date. It took place in 1867).
Convention provides an opportunity for members from the 50 states and Canada to meet not only to discuss and finalize all questions, but also to gather in friendship and true sisterhood. Convention, unlike any other meeting, paints the full picture of membership with national officers in a setting which depicts the unlimited horizons of Pi Beta Phi. Delegates from large or small alumnae clubs and chapters, dedicated to the same purposes, ideals and goals, soon realize that their responsible decisions help create the continuing success of the Fraternity.
Poem by Marilyn S. Ford, Nebraska Beta, who served as Arrow Editor for 21 years
Old. Young. Middle-aged.
Gathering from the far corners
With problems, ideas, hopes, love.
But love especially.
For each other.
In Pi Phi.
And strangers only briefly.
For all are sisters
And wearers of the arrow.
Founders and Conventions
In 1893, both Emma Brownlee Kilgore and Fannie Whitenack Libbey sent their registration fees and made early reservations, but when the time came, neither was able to attend.
Emma Brownlee Kilgore was a special guest of the 1897 Madison Convention. A delegate said, “Mrs. Kilgore is a charming, little woman, abounding in reminiscences of those early days of ‘67, and her explanations and elaborations were much enjoyed by the listeners, as she is possessed of a quaint humor and a ready wit. … Of all the pleasures of convention this, of meeting and talking with Mrs. Kilgore, was one of the greatest.”
In 1904 Emma Brownlee Kilgore, Fannie Whitenack Libbey, Libbie Brook Gaddis and Jennie Horne Turnbull attended the St. Louis Convention “with an enthusiasm as fresh and spontaneous as they had for the Fraternity in its early days as I.C. Sorosis, they told, for the delight of the younger members, stories of their college days and the beginnings of Pi Beta Phi.”
Libbie Brook Gaddis’ speech, “The Silver Link, the Silken Tie,” highlighted the 1912 Evanston Convention. Beginning in 1915, the first Pi Beta Phi Special, a train specifically chartered to transport members to convention, left Chicago with ten cars full of Pi Phis! It became an essential part of subsequent conventions.
In 1918 Libbie Brook Gaddis, Emma Brownlee Kilgore, Inez Smith Soule and Fannie Whitenack Libbey attended the Charlevoix Convention. A historical play by Vermont Beta Mabel Balch was presented. Afterwards the founders each gave a talk. Emma Brownlee Kilgore won a round of applause with:
“You scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage
If we chance to fall below in beauty
Rest assured, we are still on duty
Your founders hold their heads on high
Because they mother Pi Beta Phi.”
Emma Brownlee Kilgore, Clara Brownlee Hutchinson, Inez Smith Soule and Fannie Whitenack Libbey attended the 1921 Charlevoix Convention. Ella Smith Hoyt, an I.C. at Monmouth and sister of Inez Smith Soule, was also present.
Inez Smith Soule was the only founder present at the 1923 Estes Park Convention. Libbie Brook Gaddis, Inez Smith Soule and Fannie Whitenack Libbey attended the 1925 Lake of Bays Convention.
Inez Smith Soule, Fannie Whitenack Libbey and Clara Brownlee Hutchinson attended the 1927 Pequot Convention. Libbie Brook Gaddis, Clara Brownlee Hutchinson, Fannie Whitenack Libbey and Inez Smith Soule attended the 1929 Pasadena Convention. In 1931, Fannie Whitenack Libbey and Jennie Horne Turnbull were present at the Asbury Park Convention. Inez Smith Soule attended the 1934 Yellowstone Park Convention.
In 1936 Chicago Convention, 1938 Asheville Convention and 1940 Pasadena Convention, Fannie Whitenack Libbey represented the founders. She was the last founder to attend convention. Inez Smith Soule was 94 years old when the 1940 Pasadena Convention took place, and she sent flowers as a regret of her absence. Mrs. Soule was also one of the first to send in a contribution for Holt House, whose purchase and restoration was an agenda item at that convention. Additionally, Inez Smith Soule and Jennie Horne Turnbull attended the 1924 Eastern Conference in Washington, D.C., and five founders — Libbie Brook Gaddis, Clara Brownlee Hutchinson, Fannie Whitenack Libbey, Inez Smith Soule and Margaret Campbell — attended the reinstallation of Illinois Alpha at Monmouth College on May 25, 1928.
Conventions At a Glance
Listed as Date, Location, Presiding Officer:
- 1st August 1867 Oquawka, Illinois, Fannie Thomson’s home, Ada Bruen (Grier), Illinois Alpha
- 2nd 1870 Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Libbie Brook (Gaddis), Illinois Alpha
- 3rd June 1872 Greencastle, Indiana, Louise Carithers (Morrison), Illinois Alpha
- 4th 1878 Indianola, Iowa, Emma Patton (Noble), Iowa Beta
- 5th October 27–29, 1880 Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Lillie Cooper (Weber), Iowa Alpha
- 6th October 11–13, 1882 Burlington, Iowa, First M. E. Church Lecture Hall, Cora Panabaker, Iowa Alpha
- 7th November 19–21, 1884 Iowa City, Iowa, First M. E. Church Parlors, Nell Custer (Swisher), Iowa Zeta
- 8th November 25–27, 1885 Lawrence, Kansas, Art League, Elva Plank, Iowa Epsilon
- 9th October 19–21, 1886 Indianola, Iowa, Delta Tau Delta Fraternity Hall, Rainie Adamson-Small, Illinois Beta
- 10th October 16–18, 1888 Ottumwa, Iowa, Ottumwa Chapter Hall, Rainie Adamson-Small, Illinois Beta
- 11th April 1–4, 1890 Galesburg, Illinois, Phi Gamma Delta Hall, Emma Harper Turner, Indiana Alpha and D.C. Alpha
- 12th March 29–31, 1892 Lawrence, Kansas, Phi Delta Theta Hall, Emma Harper Turner, Indiana Alpha and D.C. Alpha
- 13th July 17–21, 1893 Chicago, Illinois, Isabella Club, Emma Harper Turner, Indiana Alpha and D.C. Alpha
- 14th August 27–29, 1895 Boston, Massachusetts, YWCA, Helen Sutliff, Kansas Alpha
- 15th July 6–10, 1897 Madison, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin, Library Hall, Grace Lass Sisson, Illinois Delta
- 16th August 29–September 1, 1899 Boulder, Colorado, Chautauqua Auditorium, Grace Lass Sisson, Illinois Delta
- 17th July 2–5, 1901 Syracuse, New York, Syracuse University Buildings, Elise Bradford (Johnson), D.C. Alpha
- 18th June 28–July 2, 1904 St. Louis, Missouri, Forest Park University Gymnasium, Elizabeth Gamble, Colorado Alpha
- 19th June 26–30, 1906 Indianapolis, Indiana, Claypool Hotel, Elizabeth Gamble, Colorado Alpha
- 20th Dec. 30, 1907–Jan. 3, 1908 New Orleans, Louisiana, Hotel Denechaud, Elizabeth Gamble, Colorado Alpha
- 21st June 27–30, 1910 Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Chapel, May Lansfield Keller, Maryland Alpha
- 22nd June 25–29, 1912 Evanston, Illinois, Annie May Swift Hall, Northwestern, May Lansfield Keller, Maryland Alpha
- 23rd July 5–10, 1915 Berkeley, California, Twentieth Century Club, May Lansfield Keller, Maryland Alpha
- 24th June 28–July 5, 1918 Charlevoix, Michigan, The Inn, May Lansfield Keller, Maryland Alpha
- 25th July 1–6, 1921 Charlevoix, Michigan, The Inn, Anna Lytle Tannahill (Brannon), Nebraska Beta
- 26th June 25–30, 1923 Estes Park, Colorado, Hotel Stanley, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 27th June 22–27, 1925 Lake of Bays, Ontario, Canada, Bigwin Inn, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 28th June 26–July 1, 1927 Pequot, Minnesota, Breezy Point Lodge, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 29th June 30–July 5, 1929 Pasadena, California, Huntington Hotel, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
At the 1993 Palm Desert convention, the convention body serenaded outgoing Grand President Jo Ann Minor Roderick.
- 30th June 22–27, 1931 Asbury Park, New Jersey, Berkeley Carteret Hotel, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 31st June 24–30, 1934 Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Old Faithful Inn, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 32nd June 21–26, 1936 Chicago, Illinois, Edgewater Beach Hotel, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 33rd June 27–July 1, 1938 Asheville, North Carolina, Grove Park Inn, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 34th June 30–July 6, 1940 Pasadena, California, Huntington Hotel, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 35th June 23–29, 1946 Swampscott, Massachusetts, New Ocean House, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 36th June 27–July 3, 1948 French Lick, Indiana, French Lick Springs Hotel, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 37th June 25–July 1, 1950 Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada, Jasper Park Lodge, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 38th July 7–13, 1952 Houston, Texas, Shamrock Hotel, Amy Burnham Onken, Illinois Epsilon
- 39th July 5–11, 1954 Miami Beach, Florida, Roney Plaza Hotel, Marianne Reid Wild, Kansas Alpha
- 40th June 24–30, 1956 Pasadena, California, Huntington Sheraton Hotel, Marianne Reid Wild, Kansas Alpha
- 41st June 22–28, 1958 Swampscott, Massachusetts, New Ocean House, Marianne Reid Wild, Kansas Alpha
- 42nd June 19–25, 1960 Hot Springs, Arkansas, Arlington Hotel, Alice Weber Mansfield (Johnson), Missouri Beta
- 43rd June 24–30, 1962 Washington, D.C., Mayflower Hotel, Alice Weber Mansfield (Johnson), Missouri Beta
- 44th June 21–27, 1964 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Empress Hotel, Alice Weber Mansfield (Johnson), Missouri Beta
- 45th June 19–23, 1966 Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Civic Auditorium, Alice Weber Mansfield (Johnson), Missouri Beta
- 46th June 25–July 1, 1967 Chicago, Illinois, Edgewater Beach Hotel, Alice Weber Mansfield (Johnson), Missouri Beta
- 47th June 22–27, 1969 Pasadena, California, Huntington Sheraton Hotel, Dorothy Weaver Morgan, Nebraska Beta
- 48th June 25–July 1, 1971 San Antonio, Texas, Hilton Palacio Del Rio, Sarahjane Paulson Vanasse, Washington Beta
- 49th June 24–29, 1973 Hot Springs, Arkansas, Arlington Hotel, Sarahjane Paulson Vanasse, Washington Beta
- 50th June 22–27, 1975, Miami, Florida, Doral Country Club, Elizabeth Turner Orr, Oregon Alpha
- 51st June 18–23, 1977, Minneapolis, Minnesota Radisson South Hotel, Elizabeth Turner Orr, Oregon Alpha
- 52nd June 17–22, 1979 Phoenix, Arizona, Del Webb Townehouse, Elizabeth Turner Orr, Oregon Alpha
- 53rd June 20–25, 1981 Dallas, Texas, Loew’s Anatole Hotel, Jean Wirths Scott, Pennsylvania Beta
- 54th June 18–23, 1983 Louisville, Kentucky, Galt House Jean Wirths Scott, Pennsylvania Beta
- 55th June 22–27, 1985 Kansas City, Missouri, Westin Crown Center, Jean Wirths Scott, Pennsylvania Beta
- 56th June 20–25, 1987 New Orleans, Louisiana, Fairmont Hotel, Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg, Ohio Alpha
- 57th June 17–22, 1989 San Diego, California, Sheraton Hotel on Harbor Island, Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg, Ohio Alpha
- 58th June 22–27, 1991 St. Louis, Missouri, Adam's Mark Hotel, Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg, Ohio Alpha
- 59th June 19–24, 1993 Orlando, Florida, Stouffer Orlando Resort, Jo Ann Minor Roderick, Oklahoma Beta
- 60th June 24–29, 1995 Palm Desert, California, Marriott Desert Springs Resort, Jo Ann Minor Roderick, Oklahoma Beta
- 61st June 28–July 2, 1997 Atlanta, Georgia, Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, Beth van Maanen Beatty, Texas Gamma
- 62nd June 25–29, 1999 Houston, Texas, Westin Galleria/Westin Oaks Hotels, Beth van Maanen Beatty, Texas Gamma
- 63rd June 29–July 3, 2001 Denver, Colorado, Adam's Mark Hotel, Beth van Maanen Beatty, Texas Gamma
- 64th June 20–24, 2003 Anaheim, California, Anaheim Marriot Hotel, Sarah Ruth “Sis” Mullis, South Carolina Alpha
- 65th June 24–28, 2005 Tampa, Florida, Waterside Marriot, Emily Russell Tarr, Texas Beta
- 66th June 22–27, 2007 Phoenix, Arizona, Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, Emily Russell Tarr, Texas Beta
- 67th June 26–30, 2009 Grapevine, Texas, Gaylord Texan, Emily Russell Tarr, Texas Beta
- 68th June 24–28, 2011 Orlando, Florida, Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista hotel, Mary Loy Tatum, Oklahoma Beta
- 69th June 28–July 1, 2013 San Diego, California, Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina, Mary Loy Tatum, Oklahoma Beta
- 70th June 26-30, 2015 Chicago, Illinois, Hilton Chicago, Paula Pace Shepherd, Texas Epsilon
- 71st June 23–27, 2017 St. Louis, Missouri, Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, Paula Pace Shephard, Texas Epsilon