The weather on Saturday, October 23, 1897 was cold and rainy, making it the perfect excuse for four dear friends to gather in a cozy dorm room at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia, and talk for hours about a shared dream. Leonora Ashmore Blackiston, Julia Gardiner Tyler Wilson, Sara Turner White, and Mary Sommerville Sparks Hendrick were four distinctly different women, ranging in age from 15 to 23, however they shared a common goal of uniting female students in the bonds of sisterly love, encouraging literature and education, promoting social interests, and furthering charitable and benevolent purposes. Their gathering on that dreary afternoon proved to be a fruitful one, culminating in the founding the school’s very first sorority: Kappa Delta.
Since its beginnings with merely four good friends, Kappa Delta has evolved into an admirable women’s organization with 133 active chapters and over 16,000 undergraduate members – one of the largest in the nation. Led by their motto, “Let us strive for that which is honorable, beautiful, and highest,” many members of Kappa Delta have gone on to achieve great things after their college days were through, including Georgia O'Keeffe (artist), Pearl S. Buck (writer, Nobel & Pulitzer Prize winner), Patricia Polito Miller (President/Co-owner of Vera Bradley Designs), and Susie Castillo (Miss USA 2003). With Sisters like these, it is no surprise that so many women want to wear the Kappa Delta Olive Green and Pearl White.
Giving back to the community is very important to Kappa Deltas, so for this reason the Sorority supports four national philanthropies: Girl Scouts of the USA, Prevent Child Abuse America, the Children's Hospital of Richmond, Virginia, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Every Kappa Delta collegiate and alumnae chapter holds an annual "Shamrock Event" to raise money for Prevent Child Abuse America, with events ranging from sports competitions to fashion shows. Since 1986 when the Shamrock Project was founded, Kappa Deltas have raised 8.5 million dollars to prevent child abuse in the United States. Many chapters decide to adopt a local Girl Scout troop as well, helping with troop activities and service events including uniquelyMe!, Dove Campaign for Real Beauty programs, and Studio 2B.
The thought that four young women, over a century ago, could sit down and create a sisterhood that has endured to this day is something to admire. Their tenacity and determination are qualities that been passed from generation to generation of Kappa Deltas, making the Sorority the impressive organization that it is today. The founders of Kappa Delta were truly women of vision who knew that the timeless values of their Sorority would be as relevant today as they were in 1897, helping countless college women find friendship, give back to their communities, and make great things happen.