So begins the first issue of the Trident which appeared on Thanksgiving Eve, November 25, 1891. But planning for the new publication began much earlier. Minutes of Alpha chapter in April 1889 called for the election of an editor-in-chief for a "paper to be issued by the society." Two years later, it was decided that the newspaper of the Fraternity should be called The Trident, that it should be published three times a year, and that Emily F. Allen, Alpha, be the editor-in-chief with a staff of one member from each chapter and one alumnae member. It was decided that the publication should have different departments with "pretty and appropriate names," such as "Shooting Stars" for literary works, and "Ocean Breezes" for letters from the four existing chapters. The subscription cost of the paper would be $1.00 per year. The literary tone of the publication was a reflection of times in which chapter meeting often included readings, plays and music.
The premier issue of The Trident came out in magazine format, 34 pages in length and featured a pale green cover. Emily Allen included an editorial section in the publication, which she would continue during her time as editor. The magazine featured essays and poems, including a poetical history of Tri Delta written by Sara Ida Shaw. Each chapter sent in a letter, describing recent events and activities; news of individual alumnae was reported; a report from the Panhellenic convention; news of other fraternal groups and colleges.
The Trident has been published continuously since that first issue. Only one number has been missed in 120 years: it was decided that the June 1893 issue would not printed, and in its place a record of the 1893 convention was published. In 1896, The Trident went from three to four issues per year. Over the years, the number of pages has varied as has the physical size of the magazine, from a few slim pages of some spring numbers in the 1960s and 1970s to a whopping 266 pages in the January 1926 issue. In the 1960s, offset printing replaced letterpress and light-weight stock was selected. During the 1970s and 1980s, postage and paper costs skyrocketed and lighter weight paper stock was again selected not only for content, but for the covers as well.
The look of the magazine has evolved over the years. Early issues featured very few illustrations and no photographs. When they began to be used, they were usually of buildings on campuses where Tri Delta had chapters, national officers or group photos of chapters and Convention attendees. Candid photos were first used by R. Louise Fitch, along with numerous illustrations. In 1937, photos began appearing on the cover. Beginning with the spring 1976 issue, a second color was used on some of the pages. The first four-color photographs were used in the fall of 1978, and by 1982 every issued used color photographs. Over the past few years, the magazine has been printed with soy-based inks.
Each editor left a unique stamp on the magazine. Emily Allen was the original spark that got the publication going and when she left nine years later, it was self-supporting. The tone of the magazine was serious and frequently reflected her personal view of "a wise conservatism in chapter extension."
R. Louise Fitch, Knox, revamped the business management of the magazine, drawing on experience gained working at her father's newspaper. She also reworked the format of the Trident, concentrating more on news of members, chapters, other fraternal organizations and college campuses. She devoted issues to specific topics, such as chapter houses or accomplishments. While she was editor, she added more photos and illustrations to the content.
Fay Martin Slover, Randolph-Macon, was editor during the difficult years of World War I. The Trident was extremely influential in campaigns for the Fraternity's war projects. Fay's remarkable financial abilities contributed to the stability of The Trident. In 1922, it was decided that The Trident would be edited at Central Office, with Amy Parmelee, Northwestern, as editor. Frances Priddy McDonald, Missouri, the longest serving editor, held the position from 1948 to 1974 and brought with her a tremendous knowledge of the Fraternity gained not only from her own experience, but learned "growing up" with Tri Delta through the work of her mother, Bessie Leach Priddy, Adrian.
Eileen Blair Rudolph, Goucher, brought several innovations to the magazine during her tenure, including four-color pictures and removable directory pages, and she shifted the editorial content to include the interests of alumnae. Her journalistic background and years of experience with the Fraternity were invaluable during her 14 year service at editor.
Carole Hauge Palmer, Colorado State, was responsible for the Centennial Celebration issue in 1988. This commemorative edition included articles on Tri Delta's founding and history, articles by Past Presidents reflecting on events of their terms, events at the convention celebration, and the endowment to the National Humanities Center.
In 1995, production of the magazine moved in-house and a full-time editor was hired. While the editorial content of the magazine still included information about the Fraternity, collegiate and alumnae chapters, it also included features on issues confronting women: eating disorders, diversity, hazing, mommy wars and career information. In 2008, editorial responsibility shifted from the editor to an editorial team consisting of the communications team, headed by the Director of Communications. This fall, The Trident will go digital through our very own app, available at the iTunes store.
Our award-winning magazine is 120 years young and continues to be a resource and a voice for Tri Deltas everywhere.
1891-1900 Emily Frances Allen, Boston
1900-1902 Julie E. Closterman, Cincinnati
1902-1904 E. Ann Harrison, Goucher
1905 Mary Taylor Abercrombie, Goucher
1905-1915 R. Louise Fitch, Knox
1915-1919 Fay Martin Slover, Randolph-Macon
1919-1922 Luella A. Latta, Cincinnati
1922-1936 Amy Olgen Parmelee, Northewestern
1936-1938 Zoe Gore Perin, Colorado
1938-1946 Helen Atkinson MacMinn, Indiana
1946-1948 Dorothy Stephenson Stout, Butler
1948-1974 Frances Priddy McDonald, Missouri
1974-1988 Eileen Blain Rudolph, Goucher
1988-1992 Carol Hauge Palmer, Colorado State
1992-1995 Susan Hakes Kaufmann, Missouri
1995-1996 Lisa Zanetti Rhodes, Texas A&M
1996-1998 Karen Jenkins Kramer, California/Santa Barbara
1998-2002 Deborah Green Shotwell, Oklahoma State
2002-2008 Phyllis Durbin Grissom, Southern Methodist
Directors of Communications:
2008 Todd Lamb
2008-2010 Georgia Calaway
2010- present Liz Tindall, Texas