In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look back at early Tri Delta trailblazers.
Tri Deltas have made names for themselves in a vast array of fields, but Ivy Kellerman Reed, Ohio State, was a true Renaissance woman, combining her love of languages, poetry and legal education to create her own unique career path.
Ivy was an accomplished linguist with four academic degrees in Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and Persian and fluency in a dozen modern languages. Her ardent love of learning was likely fostered by her father, a professor of botany at Ohio State University.
She graduated from Ohio State University with honors and earned a master’s degree from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Not content with her linguist degrees, she and her husband, Dr. Edwin Reed, also earned law degrees from Washington College of Law (now American University), graduating a year early.
Of the many languages in which Ivy was fluent, Esperanto is perhaps the most unique. The language was invented in the late 1870s as an international auxiliary language meant to allow people from different nations who don’t share a common language to more easily communicate.
Ivy was an active member of a group of linguists promoting the Esperanto language. Her expertise in the language led her to write two Esperanto grammar books. The first, “The Complete Grammar of the International Language,” was a college-level textbook published in 1910. She also wrote “Practical Grammar of the International Language,” first published in 1915, written for the general public, and she served as editor of American Esperantist.
In addition, Ivy translated several works into Esperanto, including the famous Esperanto edition of “Winnie-the-Pooh,” which she produced with translator Ralph A. Lewin. She translated Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” and a performance of the work was staged at the sixth World Esperanto Congress in Washington, D.C., in 1910.
In a photo from the World Esperanto Congress in 1910 (shown above), Ivy can be clearly seen front and center—the lone woman in a group of 22 men.
Combining Linguistics With Law and Poetry
Her love of language led her to compose poems with clever plays on words. Her poems were published in newspapers across the country. In “The Jabberwocky of Law,” Reed substituted legal terminology for the unusual words featured in Lewis Carroll’s poems. The poem was included in Percival Jackson’s Justice and the Law: an Anthology of Legal Poetry and Verse.
Tri Delta History and The Trident
Ivy played an active role in the early development of Tri Delta. She was a charter member of Tri Delta’s Nu Chapter at Ohio State when the chapter was installed in 1896—just eight years after our founding. The university reception following Initiation was held at her family’s home. She represented her chapter as an official delegate to Tri Delta’s third annual convention at the University of Minnesota in 1897, and she represented Tri Delta at the first Intersorority Conference in Chicago in 1902.
Ivy was a frequent contributor to The Trident and served as one of the publication’s business managers from 1897 to 1899. In addition, she served as Grand Treasurer of Tri Delta from 1900 to 1902.
Her brilliant mind and love of language allowed her to embrace several interesting career paths. But she never lost her early connection to Tri Delta and remained an active member for many years.