The Creed of Zeta Tau Alpha
To realize that within our grasp, in Zeta Tau Alpha, lies the opportunity to learn those things which will ever enrich and ennoble our lives; to be true to ourselves, to those within and without our circle; to think in terms of all mankind and our service in the world; to be steadfast, strong, and clean of heart and mind, remembering that since the thought is father to the deed, only that which we would have manifested in our experience should be entertained in thought; to find satisfaction in being, rather than seeming, thus strengthening in us the higher qualities of the spirit; to prepare for service and learn the nobility of serving, thereby earning the right to be served; to seek understanding that we might gain true wisdom; to look for the good in everyone; to see beauty, with its enriching influence; to be humble in success, and without bitterness in defeat; to have the welfare and harmony of the Fraternity at heart, striving ever to make our lives a symphony of high ideals, devotion to the right, the good, and the true, without a discordant note; remembering always that the foundation precept of Zeta Tau Alpha was love, “the greatest of all things.” -- Shirley Kreasan Strout
The History of Zeta Tau Alpha
Zeta Tau Alpha was founded October 15, 1898, by nine women at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia. Only 14-15 years of age, these young women desired permanence to their friendships and hoped to perpetuate their sisterhood long after college. Though dedicated to the formation of a Greek-letter group, the band of nine delayed selecting a formal name. A temporary name of “???” was taken when, as legend has it, a member of another group met with the Founders. Raising her eyebrows and forming her fingers in the shape of a question mark, she asked “Who are you?” In unison, the group answered “Yes, Who? Who? Who?” Thus, the group came to be known as “???” while they sought an appropriate Greek name and symbols. During this time, the group received valuable assistance from two of the members’ brothers -- Maud’s brother, Plummer Jones, and Frances Yancey Smith’s brother Giles Mebane Smith. Both were students at the college of William and Mary, members of men’s Greek-letter organizations and knowledgeable of Greek lore. After a year of careful contemplation, the group chose the formal name, the patron goddess and the badge.
Today, Zeta Tau Alpha consists of three entities: Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity (for general purposes referred to as Zeta Tau Alpha or ZTA), Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation, Inc. (for general purposes referred to as the Foundation or ZTAF) and Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity Housing Corporation (for general purposes referred to as the National Housing Corporation or NHC). The names Zeta Tau Alpha, ZTA and National Fraternity are often used when referring to the three organizations as a whole.
Alice Coleman, whose brown eyes and irresistible manner are so often mentioned, was the Flirt. She is holding a handkerchief between her hands in an old time flirting signal. Della Lewis, the Judge, gazes at her in stern rebuke, while Maud Jones, the Angel, is lovingly pointing to higher aims. Fannie Smith, the Preacher, holds the Bible in her hand. Never would she have done it lightly, for even in those days she lived the life that could only come from an intimate acquaintance with the Book. Helen Crafford, the Teacher, was setting a “copy” on the slate. Ethel Coleman and Ruby Leigh were Lawyers. Alice Welsh, the Poet, was holding a quill pen and madly writing verse. Cammie Jones, the Light, held a burning candle. Grace Elcan was our Child of Nature; her hair was hanging and she was covered with wild flowers. Grace was one of the most perfectly natural people I ever knew – sweet to the core. I (Odelle Warren Bonham) was Grandma. I wore a black silk dress with a soft old lace shawl and brooch. My hair was parted in the middle and drawn down over my ears in a day when girls showed their ears. Ellen Armstrong was at my knee, wearing a high-waisted dress and playing with a toy monkey. She was the baby.
The Founders of Zeta Tau Alpha:
Maud Jones Horner, Died August 20, 1920
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