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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 654

Records of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1942-1995


Records of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority include correspondence, notes, reports, scrapbooks, photographs, and printed materials.


  • Creation: 1942-1995


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research with the exception of folder #3.13, which contains interviews with sorors (sorority sisters), and is closed until January 1, 2067.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Boston Alumnae Chapter is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Records may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


6.42 linear feet ((7 file boxes, 2 folio boxes, 1 oversize box) plus 1 folio folder, 3 folio+ folders, 1 supersize folder, 5 photograph folders, 1 folio+ photo folder, 7 objects, archived web site content)

The records of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority include correspondence, meeting notes, reports, scrapbooks, photographs, and printed materials. Included are some records of the National Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Original folder titles have been maintained and appear in quotation marks. Remaining titles were created by the processor, who also added information in square brackets.

Series I, GENERAL, 1942-1995 (#1.1-6.6, 2FB.1v, 4OB.1v, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2, E.1), includes materials relating to regional and national chapter issues, as well as Boston Alumnae Chapter activities. Included are correspondence, board and executive committee meeting notes, flyers, mailing lists, financial information and reports (typescripts), clippings, and scrapbooks. Of note is a 1943 Iota Chapter scrapbook with handwritten, detailed biographies of members, accompanied by informal photographs. Following awards and certificates (#1.1, F+D.1), files are arranged chronologically. The web site of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's web archiving program. See #E.1 for a link to the web site.

Series II, PRINTED MATERIALS, 1943-1995 (#6.7-9.6, F+D.3, SD.1), contains printed and published materials by the national Delta Sigma Theta, Boston and other regional chapters, as well as outside organizations. Included are programs, proceedings, invitations, directories, reports of the national president and treasurer, and other printed and distributed materials for the national conventions. Also of note are invitations for formals, events, and celebrations, such as Founders Day; Boston Alumnae Chapter programs for Jabberwock; printed results of a 1959 study by the Yancey Commission, appointed by the national Sorority, on "life characteristics, values and problems of Delta undergraduates"; and handbooks for new pledges, who were known as "pyramids." Files are arranged alphabetically.

Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS AND MEMORABILIA, 1956-1991, undated (#PD.1-PD.5, PD.6F+, 10FB.1m-10FB.7m), includes photographs and various objects marked with the Delta Sigma Theta name or letters. Photographs include group images of Delta Sigma Theta members at various gatherings and events. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


On March 12, 1945, a group of young, college-educated African-American women who had been members of Iota Chapter, a city-wide sorority in Boston, Massachusetts, founded the Boston Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Established in 1921, Iota Chapter was the first African-American sorority in the Boston area. The Eastern Regional Director of Delta Sigma Theta, Marian Palmer Capps, chartered the Boston Alumnae Chapter as Alpha Omicron Sigma. Edith Brown was the first chapter president. By the 1950s, the chapter discontinued using Alpha Omicron Sigma and officially became known as the Boston Alumnae Chapter.

Since its founding in 1913 on the campus of Howard University, the mission of Delta Sigma Theta has been rooted in service within the African-American community. In 1925, two members from the Iota Chapter started Jabberwock, an annual program of entertainment for the public designed to raise funds for college scholarships. Other service programs have included helping to organize the Fort Hill Mental Health Association to support mental health awareness in the 1960s, providing resources for the establishment of a community health center in the African-American community, initiating an annual program for young teenagers on African-American history and culture in 1986, and active involvement in civil rights and political action.

In 1990, the Boston Alumnae Chapter sold cookbooks of members' recipes to raise funds for their public service work. The chapter continues to be active in 2010.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. General, 1942-1995 (#1.1-6.6, 2FB.1v, 4OB.1v, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2, E.1)
  2. Series II. Printed materials, 1943-1995 (#6.7-9.6, F+D.3, SD.1)
  3. Series III. Photographs and memorabilia, 1956-1991, undated (#PD.1-PD.5, PD.6F+, 10FB.1m-10FB.7m)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 91-M205, 92-M145, 96-M91

The records of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Boston Alumnae Chapter were given to the Schlesinger Library by the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority from 1991 through 1996.


Donor: Boston Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Accession numbers: 91-M205, 92-M145, 96-M91

Processed by: Laura Peimer

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library printed materials collection:

  1. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Boston Alumnae Chapter Cookbook, 1990
  2. The Delta journals, 1943, 1946, 1949, 1954-1956, 1958-1961, 1967-1969, 1971-1973, 1975-1977
  3. Eastern Delta newsletter, 1955
  4. Delta newsletters, 1971-1973, 1992

Processing Information

Processed: September 2010

By: Laura Peimer

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Boston Alumnae Chapter. Records of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1942-1995: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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