Explore our History

"Never had a sorority been founded so completely and with such depth of meaning from the very beginning." - from the History of Delta Delta Delta



It began with friendship. Although there were three women's groups represented at Boston University in 1888, seniors Sarah Ida Shaw and Eleanor Dorcas Pond saw a need for a different organization that would "be kind alike to all and think more of the girl's inner self and character than of her personal appearance." Not only did these two young women create the framework of our organization, but they also created its Rituals and symbols, wrote its constitution and designed its emblems. All was finished on Thanksgiving Eve 1888 when the two embraced each other and declared "Tri Delta is founded."  More than 126 years later, their vision has grown into the dynamic women's organization we know today.


sisyoung.jpgSARAH IDA SHAW
The inspirational force behind the founding of Tri Delta was Sarah Ida Shaw. One of the most outstanding students in her class at Boston University, Sarah's academic excellence was recognized by Phi Beta Kappa. In creating Tri Delta, she employed her knowledge of Greek, geometry and mathematics, as well as Egyptian and Hindu legends and lore. Tri Delta owes to her the beauty of the Rituals and the knowledge that commitment to an ideal greater than ourselves can bring a new dimension to our lives.

Eleanor Dorcas Pond was valedictorian of her high school class and was awarded a scholarship to Boston University. A person of high intellectual ability, she was also a fun-loving but practical young woman, a perfect complement to Sarah Ida Shaw's visionary personality. It was she who suggested the name be a triple letter, and she also influenced the development of the Ritual, badge, emblems and Constitution.

Florence Isabelle Stewart was the youngest child of a village doctor who was in his 70s when she entered Boston University. Because the family had little money, Flora struggled to remain in school. During her first years she commuted from Medway with her high school friend, Nellie Pond. Flora was an excellent student and salutatorian of her high school class. She served as Grand Secretary from 1889-1893, but was inactive in the Fraternity after this time.

Isabel came from Lynn, Massachusetts. She had refused sorority bids because deep religious convictions made her question being a part of a selective organization. After learning of the values and aims of Tri Delta, she consented to becoming a member. Her service in Tri Delta was limited to serving as Grand Treasurer from 1889-1893, but her interest was unabated, and in her quiet and orderly life she reflected great credit upon the Fraternity.

1888    Nov. 28, Sarah Ida Shaw and Eleanor Dorcas Pond completed their plans for the creation of Delta Delta Delta. The two declared, "Tri Delta is founded."

1889    May, Delta Deuteron chapter at Simpson becomes the second chapter of Tri Delta. The chapter name was later changed to Delta.

1891    November, The Trident is first published on the third anniversary of Tri Delta's founding.

1892    The first alumnae group, called the Alpha Alumnae Alliance, is formed.

1905    Tri Delta sends a national officer to visit every chapter, a forerunner of the Field Consultant program.

1974    Sleighbell Day, a new national philanthropy, was established to support children's cancer charities.

1986    The Tri Delta Foundation is created as a 501(c)3 organization to "assist its members in every possible way."

1991    The Fraternity forms National House Corporation (NHC). 

1999    Tri Delta begins its partnership with St. Jude.

2008    Tri Delta launches Reflections: Body Image Program®, which includes Fat Talk Free® Week, a 5-day body activism campaign.

2012    Tri Delta launches BodyImage3D® as a multi-dimensional approach to body image awareness and education.

2014    Tri Delta commits to raising $60 million for St. Jude.

Emblems & Symbols
The colors are silver, gold and cerulean blue.  Green is also a significant color since it represents the union of the three colors.

crest_ds.pngCoat of Arms
The coat of arms consists of a shield quartered. The first and fourth quarters are in blue with a silver trident, and the second and third quarters are in gold with a green pine tree. Above the shield is the crest, which consists of a torse with six folds alternating gold and blue, topped with a white, gold and blue pansy.  Below the shield is a scroll with the Greek translation of the open motto, "Let us steadfastly love one another."

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Using the Greek alphabet the name Delta Delta Delta is depicted above. The Greek letter delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet and is commonly seen as an isosceles triangle.

The patron Greek divinity of Tri Delta is Poseidon, god of the sea and one of the three rulers of the universe.

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The jewel of Tri Delta is pearl. Because it is the only jewel that grows, developing from a tiny grain of sand into a thing of great value and beauty, it is a symbol of the Fraternity's new members.

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The tree of Tri Delta is the pine tree. The pine is also a symbol of Tri Delta's collegiate members because it represents growth and lofty aspirations.

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The pansy is Tri Delta's flower. It is also a symbol of alumnae membership and the third step in the lifetime development of Delta Delta Delta's members.

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The dolphin was recognized as a good omen by the ancient Greeks, who saw the dolphin as symbolic of clear skies and smooth sailing. It symbolizes rebirth, friendship and leadership. In Tri Delta the dolphin has particular significance for Fraternity leaders.


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The new member pin is worn prior to Initiation. It is a green and silver enamel badge and was described in the 1888 constitution as an "inverted Delta, surrounded by three Deltas."

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The official badge of the Fraternity consists of three golden stars, crown set with pearls, within a gold crescent of three hundred degrees bearing three deltas in black enamel. Tri Delta initiates receive a Stars and Crescent badge with the member's initials, the Greek letters of her chapter, and her Initiation number engraved on the back. Each badge remains the property of the Fraternity but is lent to the member during her lifetime or as long as she remains a member.

Milestone Jewelry
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Introduced at the 2004 Convention, the pin is silver and features the anniversary number engraved on the stars and crescent design.  This pin may be purchased and worn by members who have reached the 25-year anniversary of their Initiation into Delta Delta Delta or given to members as a gift.

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Introduced at the 1962 Convention, where it was given to the Golden Circle members in attendance, this pin was originally designed by Sarah Ida Shaw for the Circle Degree of Initiation.
Consisting of a delta in white enamel supported by three deltas of gold inside a golden circle which is surrounded by six spherical triangles in blue enamel, the Golden Circle pin celebrates the 50th anniversary of a Tri Delta's Initiation into Delta Delta Delta. The pins may be purchased by a 50-year member or given to members as a gift.

Diamond Circle Pin  DDD75year pin and charm.png
The Diamond Circle pin honors Tri Deltas who have reached the 75th anniversary of their Initiation. The Diamond Circle pin shares its design with the Golden Circle pin, but features a diamond in the center. Members who have reached the 75th anniversary of their Initiation have the privilege of buying the pin or receiving them as gifts. Introduced in 1996, the first Diamond Circle pin was presented to Mary K. Wise Jensen, Butler, past Fraternity President.