The arrival of the mail always brings the potential for a “wow” day here in the archives. Today is one of those days! The badge of Josephine Spear, Alpha/DePauw, arrived as a donation to the archives. It is a Dyer badge (an elegant version of our badge with elongated points), with a crown of pearls and either a ruby or garnet at each point. A special treat is that it came in its original Charles B. Dyer jewelry box!
Charles B. Dyer was a jeweler in the Indianapolis area, and his wife, Blanche Brown Dyer, was a member of Beta/Indiana. What few realize is that Dyer badges were never an official badge design. For as much as we can determine, the Dyer Company bought Theta badges and placed them in the setting that many of us love. Among the archives files is correspondence from the 1920s to the 1940s between the Dyer Company and the Fraternity asking them to stop producing these badges, as the Fraternity had a contract with then official jeweler, Balfour.
In the archives, we have Dyer badges with very plain settings, chased settings, and jeweled settings that range from pearls to diamonds. This new addition is unique to our collection and we are glad to have it. But what is even more exciting is that we know much about the badge’s owner, Josephine Spear. She was an English teacher, first in Indiana high schools, then at the University School at Indiana University (IU), and finally with the School of Education at IU. She retired in 1983 as chair of English Education at the School of Education. Spear even authored several literature textbooks. On her online obituary, there are condolence notes from former students, some from the 1950s, reflecting on her impact as a teacher on their lives.
So here in the archives these badges are more than artifacts; each piece has a person and a story behind it. For more information about what to do with your badge or additional history about our badge, visit the Our Badge
section on the Kappa Alpha Theta website.