Marie Davis Thomson, Alpha Iota/
Washington-St. Louis, with Red Cross bag at the 1917 Grand Convention.
“October is always a joyful month for us, not only because our Thetas, scattered during the summer, meet again, full of bright hopes for a happy year, but also because we are expecting that new members will be added to our flock. October is our May-time, for then we go a-wooing.
This year, however, we are feeling rather subdued, for loyal Thetas though we are, we are British subjects too, and we feel the stress of the great European conflict. Over one hundred of our College men have joined the forces across the sea and an officer‘s training corps is being formed with our walls. As a result college festivities are to be lessened and already knitting needles are conspicuous among the students.”
So begins the November 1914 chapter letter from Sigma Chapter at the University of Toronto in the Magazine, and the first reference to the developing conflict in Europe that would later be known as World War I.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Canada and Europe have begun to mark significant events of that war and, as we move towards 2017, the United States will be remembering those who served on both the military and home fronts.
For Kappa Alpha Theta, it marked a transition period for its members as many tried to figure out how they could help their country—be it on campus rolling bandages and knitting for the soldiers, or as alumnae working to raise funds through War Bond drives. As an example, delegates and visitors at Grand Convention 1917 in Charlevoix, Mich., took up knitting and bandage rolling throughout the sessions to aid the war effort.
Young alumnae took on roles that would mark the beginning of their professional careers as they volunteered to serve as overseas, nurses, doctors, and Red Cross workers. Sixty Years in Kappa Alpha Theta, published in 1930, specifically identifies more than 90 Thetas for their overseas service during the war. It was for the war that Theta embarked on its first national philanthropy project for non-members, raising funds to support the nurses of one base hospital, and later, to send a Red Cross worker overseas.
Over the course of the next few years, I will share stories of Thetas and their contributions and how they “spread the widest influence for good.”