A Magazine for Members
Pi Beta Phi’s quarterly publication, The Arrow, has been in print for more than 130 years. During that time, the magazine has been a prominent mainstay for connecting Pi Phi sisters. According to Past Grand President Mary Loy Tatum, Oklahoma Beta, The Arrow fulfills a great need for the membership to be bound together. Whether it's 1885 or 2017, The Arrow is the connection between the Fraternity and members. This magazine keeps members in touch.
The Arrow had a humble beginning: Iowa Alpha Belle ReQua Leech wrote a letter to the Burlington Convention in 1882. In the letter, she urged serious consideration for the establishment of a Fraternity magazine. It was important for the organization to have something that would “keep us bound together as we will know what work is being done.” A motion was passed by the convention body, stating that “... the Fraternity publish, when funds permitted, a magazine devoted to literary purpose and to the interest of the society.”
A full two years passed before the Kappa Chapter, now Kansas Alpha, was charged with publishing the first issue. Under the direction of Editor Mary Miller, Volume One, Issue One of The Arrow was published in May 1885. It was to be published quarterly and with an annual subscription price of $1 for all four issues, which equals about $25 in the modern economy. Each of the 14 chapters in existence at the time contributed to The Arrow through chapter correspondence, offering a glimpse into the life and character of each chapter. The Nu Chapter at Southern Iowa Normal reported, “The angel of death has kindly spared all our band, but matrimony has made havoc in our ranks.” The women at Carthage College were eagerly anticipating a Cookie Shine, and the ladies of Simpson College reported, “Our rival Soroses are the Kappa Alpha Thetas and Kappa Kappa Gamma.”
The Arrow was met with a warm reception. Chapters were delighted with the magazine. An Iowa Beta wrote, “At last, the happy moment has arrived, when all chapters are able to throw aside their school books and other worldly cares and eagerly peruse the contents of The Arrow. Now each member may become personally acquainted with the other chapters, may hear of their achievements, listen to their aspirations, sing their songs and catching inspiration from their sisters, nerve themselves to work more faithfully.”
At the Ottumwa Convention in 1888, it was voted that publication of The Arrow be turned over to the Iowa City Chapters (Zeta and Kappa). The Convention Delegates expressed a strong desire to improve the magazine as much as possible, including the size, color, style and general layout. It was also decided to “issue a magazine in a style similar to The Key of Kappa Kappa Gamma,” the standard among women’s Fraternity journals. Ironically, in 1907, The Key published a commentary stating, “The Arrow continues to distance all sorority journals. It is eminently wise and sensible.”
In the early years of The Arrow, submissions were difficult to solicit. In December 1886, Iowa Zeta Emma Humphrey Haddock implored readers to submit their stories for publication. By July 1896, Grand Council requested legislation requiring chapter letters and fining chapters for submissions written on more than one side of the paper. At the same time, the alumnae department established a regular presence in the magazine. At the 1897 Convention, an Advisory Board of three members, appointed by the Editor, was created. This took the magazine out of the control of chapters for the first time. At the 1899 Convention, it was decided The Arrow Editor should be a member of Grand Council.
Bound copies of Arrow issues were introduced to the collegiate chapters in 1910 in an effort to create an Arrow library for each chapter. The practice of binding several issues of The Arrow and sending to each chapter continues today.
Through the Years
Starting in 1920, there were more sections dedicated to Pi Phi spotlights; “Pi Phis in the Public Eye,” “With the Actives,” “News from Little Pigeon” and “From Pi Phi Pens.” These sections had a Pi Phi-specific interest, whether it was a news story about the Settlement School or a look at a Pi Phi College Dean. Short biographies, mainly of Grand Council members and National Officers, were added in the 1930s. As awards were established, the winners and academic honors would be highlighted, and pictures were usually included as well.
In 1934, The Arrow celebrated its golden anniversary. Editor Adele Taylor Alford, D.C. Alpha, commemorated the event by issuing an exact replica of The Arrow, Volume 1, Issue 1. Additionally, biographies of each Editor from 1885–1935 were included.
In the 1940s, The Arrow bore the effects of wartime — the magazine featured fewer pages and more words per page. Margins were half as wide and articles were crowded with smaller spacing between them. In the mid 1940s, after the war ended and the country started to return to normal, The Arrow refocused its targeted appeal and began including articles of national and international interest to broaden the scope of the magazine. It was the aim of The Arrow to give a picture of the Fraternity and at the same time balance serious material with lighter things such as Campus Queens. It was hoped each issue contained something of special interest to every member — a goal Pi Phi continues to strive for today.
Circulation increased significantly in the 1950s and 1960s. Complimentary copies of The Arrow were sent to the Dean of Women on every campus that housed a Pi Beta Phi chapter as well as various university libraries. Copies were also furnished to all National Officers, the Chapter Corresponding Secretaries and members of the Order of the Golden Arrow. Circulation approached 66,000 in 1964, which was the highest among the fraternity groups.
Up until the 1970s, a special edition of The Arrow, the secret edition, was published each fall. It was an annual report of the Fraternity's finances and strength. That issue was not included in the exchanges with other Greek-letter organizations and members were warned to not share the issue. After the "secret issue" was retired, more details about convention and reports on finances began to appear in The Arrow.
In the 1970s, a fun and upbeat section titled “Short Stories of Sagacious Sister,” gave a quick comment or update on sisters from different chapters who were doing something great. Another section called “Pi Phi Did It,” highlighted “Pi Phi firsts” and honors, including stories about Arrowmont, the Fraternity's Centennial project.
In the 1970s and 1980s, The Arrow introduced color to its pages. First in 1974, The Arrow used two colors in the body of the magazine, and again in 1980 with the first full-color cover. The 1980s were a time of significant change for the publication. In 1985, The Arrow celebrated its 100th anniversary. In 1989, longtime Arrow Editor Marilyn Simpson Ford, Nebraska Beta, retired after 26 years of service, and Missouri Alpha Jennifer Moeller (Rowe) became the first Editor employed at Central Office.
In the 1990s, The Arrow Editor became a staff member rather than a volunteer. Desktop publishing allowed the Editor to have her hand in the design of the magazine and the magazine took on a fresher look, resembling a yearbook in structure. There were more pictures and color, and the writing was set into multiple lined columns. Pi Phi Express, the Fraternity's merchandising arm, was opened and it had a regular presence in The Arrow in the days before Internet shopping. Pi Beta Phi Foundation was established and news of its work was a regular part of the magazine, with news of donors and scholarship recipients.
The millennium brought even more change to The Arrow. Because of rising printing and postage costs, in 2002 Grand Council voted to reduce production of the magazine to three times a year. A winter issue was not produced again until 2006. The Spring 2003 issue was the first full-color Arrow printed. This milestone was even more special because this issue showcased the brand-new Pi Beta Phi Headquarters offices. It was also the first online issue of The Arrow made available on the Pi Beta Phi website. One of the most notable moments in the life of The Arrow was unveiled at the 67th Biennial Convention in 2009; Headquarters and Grand Council debuted The Arrow DVD collection, which featured scanned copies of every Arrow produced since 1885. The Arrow is now promoted through the Internet, brochures, flyers, catalogs and more.
The magazine continued to evolve in 2010, receiving a few subtle additions in a redesign. The Arrow was updated to further incorporate the branded wine and blue colors throughout each issue. The articles within the magazine also received renewed consideration. The “In Her Words” and “Collegiate Spotlight” sections were added to the quarterly periodical, on top of revamping Collegiate News, Alumnae News and Reunions and Anniversaries sections. These efforts attempted to tell rich and colorful stories about Pi Phi sisters rather than simply report information.
In 2014, the Fraternity paired with a research company to survey the membership about The Arrow. Some key findings from this research included:
- 91 percent of members surveyed read The Arrow, and 85 percent of members surveyed prefer to get their Pi Phi news from The Arrow
- 48 percent of members surveyed said they read The Arrow cover-to-cover
- Members surveyed believe that The Arrow appeals to members of all ages
In late 2016, The Arrow went through a complete redesign, altering the masthead and expanding collegiate and alumnae news sections, among other changes. In 2017, the editorial team continues to design, edit and layout each issue of the magazine at the International Headquarters in Town and Country, Missouri. Pi Beta Phi aims to stay true to the magazine's original purpose: to present matters of value to Pi Beta Phi, furnish a means of communication among collegiate chapters, alumnae clubs and officers and represent the worthiest interest of Fraternity women.
Honoring The Arrow Editors
The growth of the The Arrow, established when the Fraternity was just 18 years old and 14 chapters strong, is one of the organization's proudest achievements.
- Mary Barnes Miller, Kansas Alpha
- Josephine March Marvin, Kansas Alpha
- Emma Humphrey Haddock, Iowa Zeta
- Isabelle T. Hudson (Cartwright), Iowa Zeta
- Ella Ham Robinson, Iowa Zeta
- Mira Troth, Iowa Zeta
- Mary B. Thompson Reid, Michigan Beta
- Lauretta Smedley Dutton, Pennsylvania Alpha
- Jessica Craig Campbell, Wisconsin Alpha
- Florence Porter Robinson, Wisconsin Alpha
- Mary Bartol Theiss, Pennsylvania Beta
- Sarah Pomeroy Rugg, Massachusetts Alpha
- Agnes Wright Spring, Wyoming Alpha
- Josephine Coates Marshall, Illinois Beta
- Mabel Scott Brown, Maryland Alpha
- Mary Katharine Lutz, D.C. Alpha
- Adele Taylor Alford, D.C. Alpha
- Dorothy Davis Stuck, Arkansas Alpha
- Marilyn Simpson Ford, Nebraska Beta
- Jennifer Moeller Rowe, Missouri Alpha
- Elizabeth Gilkison Cannon, Missouri Alpha
- Diane Balogh
- Jennifer Whittom Schmidt, Missouri Gamma
- Constance Dillon Gibbs, California Delta