Ritual: The Beginnings
Posted On: Sunday, March 2, 2014 01:00 PM, by Theta Archives
The 1897 Convention program cover
"Bettie Locke was the first initiate, taking her vows before a mirror. Then she initiated Alice O. Allen, then Bettie Tipton, and lastly myself." Hannah Fitch Shaw, Sixty Years in Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity (1930) The story goes on to say that the four founders had written a simple initiation ceremony for that first meeting on January 27, 1870. As each chapter was established, various parts were added to the ceremony. By the 1889 Convention, it was decided to appoint a committee to draw up a standardized ritual incorporating the ceremonies established by Beta/Indiana and Iota/Cornell. They made little headway, as each chapter preferred their own ritual. A new committee was appointed at the 1891 Convention, and the Moral Code, first read at this convention, was formally adopted in 1893. The ritual committee struggled to develop a standard ritual but decided to present a model initiation at the 1897 Convention incorporating the original pieces from Alpha/DePauw along with parts from Beta/Indiana and Iota/Cornell along with the Moral Code. It was held in the Senate chambers of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. Sixty Years states that the presentation so impressed the delegates that it was adopted without opposition. Over the years, it has been expanded to clarify and include various concepts but remaining similar to the one as approved back in 1897. To date, 249,891 have gone through initiation, experiencing our ritual. In 1895, Bettie Locke Hamilton's oldest daughter, Edna Hamilton, was initiated at Alpha/DePauw. In the chapter letter dated October 14th of that year, appearing in the Magazine, it notes that Alpha's new members were "initiated last week at the home of Mrs. Bettie Locke Hamilton, one of the founders of our fraternity, and the Alpha girls had the honor of initiating her." Bettie herself felt the need to revisit the ritual that made her part of this organization. Kate L. Sabin Stevens, Psi/Wisconsin, wrote in the Magazine in 1901: "In the beautiful ritual of Kappa Alpha Theta are the elements that make many Thetas true and noble. May not each wearer of the kite make that ritual such a part of her life that not only the chapter may reap a rich reward of her loving service, but also that each person with whom she comes in contact may feel the influence of its high teaching?" We also ask do you live your ritual not only with your fellow sisters but in the world as well. Share your stories of living your ritual.