Founded on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African American college-trained women. To trace its history is to tell a story of changing patterns of human relations in America in the 20th century.
The small group of women who organized the Sorority was conscious of a privileged position as college-trained women of color, just one generation removed from slavery. They were resolute that their college experiences should be as meaningful and productive as possible. Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded to apply that determination.
As the Sorority grew, it kept in balance two important themes: the importance of the individual and the strength of an organization of women of ability and courage. As the world became more complex, there was a need for associations which cut across racial, geographical, political, physical and social barriers.
Alpha Kappa Alpha’s influence extends beyond campus quads and student interest. It has a legacy of service that deepens, rather than ends, with college graduation.
The goals of its program activities center on significant issues in families, communities, government halls and world assembly chambers. Its efforts constitute a priceless part of the global experience in the 21st century.
The Original Group: Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Slowe and Marie Woolfolk Taylor
Led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, the nine Howard University students who came together to form Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority were the scholastic leaders of their classes. Each also had a special talent or gift that further enhanced the potential of this dynamic group.
The Sophomores: Norma Boyd, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Alice Murray, Sarah Meriweather Nutter, Joanna Berry Shields, Carrie Snowden and Harriet Terry
With the exception of Ethel, the original group of women was comprised of college seniors. To ensure the continuity of the organization, seven Class of 1910 honor students who had expressed interest were invited to join without initiation.
The Incorporators: Norma Boyd, Julia Brooks, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Nellie Quander, Nellie Pratt Russell and Minnie Smith
Nellie Quander was elected president in 1911. Under her visionary leadership, Alpha Kappa Alpha initiated a dynamic plan of expansion. The first step of establishing an international body in perpetuity was taken in 1913 when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was legally incorporated.
“By Culture, By Merit”
The Nine Howard University Students who were led by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle began a sisterhood in 1908. Nellie Quander and her gallant group contributed the added dimension of an international organization and perpetual membership. Those who have come after them, the never ending stream of eternally young, hopeful enthusiastic women, must be remembered.
The Original Group: Marjorie Hill, Lucy D. Slowe, Lillie Burke, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Anna E. Brown, Marie Woolfolk Taylor, Beulah E. Burke, Margaret Flagg Holmes, and Lavinia Norman
The Sophomores of 1908: Norma Boyd, Ethel J. Mowbray, Alice P. Murray, Sarah M. Nutter, Joanna B. Shields, Carrie E. Snowden, and Harriett J. Terry
The Incorporators: Norma Boyd, Julia E. Brooks, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Nellie M. Quander, Nellie Pratt Russell, and Minnie B. Smith.