A New Home for Tri Delta's Treasures
Archives, Foundation | June 13, 2017

Tri Delta is fortunate to have many cherished items from the earliest days of our founding. Through the years, they have been preserved and presented by dedicated volunteer leaders. One such leader is Ginger Hicks Smith, Emory, whose recent generous gift to the Tri Delta Foundation will help establish a new home for Tri Delta’s treasures at the new headquarters in Dallas, Texas.

There are few volunteer positions that Ginger has not filled at one time or another. A long-time member of the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter, Ginger has served Tri Delta as an alumna advisor, collegiate district officer, program chair and Associate Director, and also eight years as a member of Tri Delta Fraternity’s Executive Board. Ginger first served as a Foundation Trustee as an Executive Board liaison (1996-2000), then was elected a Trustee in 2008. She served as the Foundation’s Vice President for Strategic Planning, and as Foundation President from 2012-2016. She now serves as chair of the Tri Delta Alliance, a group of past and present volunteer leaders, chapter development consultants and Women of Achievement honorees.

Now retired after a long and distinguished career working with manuscripts and rare books as an archivist and library administrator at her alma mater, Emory University, Ginger is a volunteer board member for several local cultural and community organizations, as well as the North American Interfraternity Conference Foundation (NICF), where she serves as director. With her long tenure as a professional archivist and librarian, as well as her dedicated service to Tri Delta, the organization is pleased to name our new museum in her honor, adding Ginger to an unbroken line of dedicated caretakers of the Fraternity’s history.

Plans for the new museum and archives include an interactive museum area dedicated to our founding and early history. On display will be some of our members’ favorite historical pieces including Sarah Ida Shaw’s badge and personal jewelry, Eleanor Dorcas Pond’s teapot, and Alpha Chapter’s first meeting minutes. Displays throughout the office will highlight other subjects such as Tri Delta’s history with the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), our dedicated alumnae volunteers and our Conventions. Other displays will celebrate our collegiate chapters and their history, the Tri Delta Foundation, our work with St. Jude and other philanthropic efforts. The formal dedication and opening of the new museum and archives is scheduled for July 2018 in tandem with Convention.

Tri Delta is fortunate to have a large collection of its early records and artifacts. Alpha Chapter was the original repository for its early papers. When Sarah Ida Shaw became Grand Historian in 1897, it seemed only natural that the preservation of the organization’s earliest records should fall to her. When Bessie Leach Priddy, Adrian, took over the position in 1902, she moved our early treasures to her home. Thanks to the efforts of these two, along with those of Amy Olgen Parmelee, Northwestern, and R. Louise Fitch, Knox, Tri Delta’s earliest documents, including Alpha’s first Constitution, the original Rituals written by Sarah Ida Shaw and the first minutes of Alpha Chapter have been carefully preserved.

Although they were not displayed until 1962, our archives collection was cared for by successive Executive Secretaries. The Chicago Daily News Building had a three by five foot safe for Convention minutes and returned badges. When Executive Office was moved in 1957 to 360 N. Michigan Avenue, an “Archives Corner” was created consisting of a locked shadow box of old badges and shelves of folders for pictures and other memorabilia. Two large safes held the rest of the archival material.

When the organization moved to its new office at 6 N. Michigan Avenue in December of 1961, a small room was designated as an official Archives Room. Margaret Paddock Haller, Cornell, the first Archives Chairman, created the displays that enabled members and other visitors to enjoy the Fraternity memorabilia. The first exhibit included a multiplex unit with 40 bulletin board “leaves” on a standard where various items could be displayed. Additionally, a wall unit displayed a number of historical Convention favors. A collection of Presidents’ pictures was assembled and displayed along the wall.

Over the years, additional articles of historical interest were collected, including items such as a pierced silver bowl presented to Amy Parmelee by Alpha Phi in 1912 as a commemoration of her interfraternity services; a silver teapot presented to Eleanor Dorcas Pond by Alpha Chapter; jewelry and a gold mesh purse which belonged to Sarah Ida Shaw; an antique bench which was a gift to Delta Xi Chapter at Missouri from Bessie Leach Priddy, then Dean of Women, when their new chapter house was built; and a sterling silver seal and tray which belonged to Agnes Powers Dunning.

When the Fraternity moved its headquarters to Arlington, Texas, the new office had a spacious area that combined archives files with display space, an attractive sitting area and a large table for Board meetings. In 1977, a mannequin was purchased to show costumes from the early years of the Fraternity.

The 1986 headquarters building on Brookhollow Plaza Drive began the tradition of archives displays spread throughout the office. The large reception area included an antique secretary and library pieces as well as built-in cabinets for formal display of photographs and memorabilia. Photographs and smaller displays such as Convention favors and leadership school memorabilia, articles belonging to early members, samples of early dance programs, and Fraternity jewelry were placed throughout the building. When Tri Delta dedicated its new headquarters next door in 1998, the facility included a dedicated museum area and continued the tradition of displaying additional material throughout the building.

Ginger Hicks Smith’s dedication to Tri Delta and its history through her generous legacy gift continues the Fraternity’s tradition of care for our early treasures, preserving them for future Tri Deltas to enjoy.

Read the full press release here.

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