Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Historical Note

Scope and Content Note

Restrictions

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Description of Series

History

Administrative Records

Membership

Events and Programs

Conferences and Conventions

Publications

Scrapbook

University of Texas San Antonio

A Guide to the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. San Antonio Alumnae Chapter Records, 1934-1998



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. San Antonio Alumnae Chapter
Title: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. San Antonio Alumnae Chapter Records
Dates: 1934-1998
Creator Abstract: Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a public service organization of predominately African American college educated women. The San Antonio Alumnae Chapter as established on August 16, 1933, under the name of Psi Sigma Chapter. On August 23, 1958, the chapter was renamed San Antonio Alumnae Chapter. The chapter follows the philosophy upon which the national organization was founded, committed to engaging in public service, concern for social welfare, academic excellence and cultural enrichment.
Content Abstract: Administrative and membership records, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, and a scrapbook of an African American public service sorority established in San Antonio in 1933.
Identification: MS 73
Extent: 2.8 linear feet (about 2,100 items)
Language: Materials are inEnglish.
Repository: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections

Historical Note

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a public service organization of predominately African American college educated women. The San Antonio Alumnae Chapter as established on August 16, 1933, under the name of Psi Sigma Chapter. On August 23, 1958, the chapter was renamed San Antonio Alumnae Chapter. The chapter follows the philosophy upon which the national organization was founded, committed to engaging in public service, concern for social welfare, academic excellence and cultural enrichment.

Activities of the chapter are based upon the national agenda known as the Five Point Thrust:

  • Economic Development
  • Educational Development
  • International Awareness and Involvement
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Political Awareness and Involvement

On the night of August 16, 1933, Bella H. Cameron, Irene T. Holley and Lillian Thompson became the first initiates. The first officers were: Myra Lillian Davis Hemmings, President; Arlyne B. Wyatt, Vice President; Bernice Whitfield, Recording Secretary; Silicia W. Weston, Treasurer; Vessie Brown, Corresponding Secretary; Ruth Bellinger, Journalist; and Inez Bumbrey, Sergeant-At-Arms. Of these notable women, Myra Davis Hemmings (1887-1968) is revered as one of the twenty-two young women who founded Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (Alpha Chapter) at Howard University, Washington, D.C. in 1913. Hemmings was born in Gonzales, Texas and she attended Riverside High School in San Antonio, Texas, graduated from Howard University in 1913 and received the Master of Arts Degree from Northwestern University Speech Department in 1947. She was an English teacher for over fifty years with the San Antonio Independent Schools.

In addition to being a charter member and first president of San Antonio Alumnae Chapter, Hemmings served as National Journalist, National Chairman of the Finance Committee and eventually she served as Director of the Southwest Region. Under her leadership, the chapter became known for its theatrical fundraising events. In 1986, the chapter named its meeting house the Myra Davis Hemmings Resource Center (MDHRC) in her honor. The center is also known as the Delta House. A scholarship is awarded annually in Hemmings's name to a college-bound female student majoring in the arts.

San Antonio Alumnae Chapter hosted Delta's 1947 National Convention at which Dorothy I. Height was elected 10th National President. The chapter subsequently hosted the 1982 and the 2001 Southwest Regional Conferences which was held at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. The election of Marvette J. Thomas, Southwest Regional Director, was the highlight of the 2001 Conference.

At the 1968 National Convention when the Sorority's 50th Anniversary was celebrated, the chapter won the prizes for its extraordinary scrapbook as well as the exquisite embroidered tablecloth made by chapter members.

Zeta Upsilon, a city-wide college based chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was established in May 1969 under the sponsorship of San Antonio Alumnae Chapter.

For nearly sixty years, 328 North Pine Street was known as the"Eastside YWCA." Chapter members worked to acquire the property and eventually restored the house. On September 7, 1986, the community joined San Antonio Alumnae Chapter in the formal opening and dedication of the beautifully refurbished old Victorian style house. The Mortgage Burning Ceremony occurred on September 19, 1993, after only thirteen years of indebtedness. The chapter maintains a library in MDHRC, which includes materials relating to minority studies.

San Antonio Alumnae Chapter, March 12-14, 1993, hosted the first Texas Statewide Founders Day. Special guest, 20th National President Bertha Maxwell Roddey, was the keynote speaker. The chapter traditionally celebrates Founders Day annually in the month of January. In 2004 our sorority sister, Ericka Dunlap, Miss America, was our special guest and keynote speaker.

The chapter purchased and installed the grave marker and monument at the formal resting place of (*Soror) Founder Myra Davis Hemmings. The first graveside ceremony occurred on January 27, 1996 during Founders Day Weekend.

The 70th anniversary of San Antonio Alumnae Chapter was celebrated in 2003.

Under the Five Point Thrust programs, the chapter successfully presented the national sorority's emphasis on the 1980s School America program to the San Antonio community. Other major activities have been mental and physical health screenings for the community, voter registration, special presentations highlighting speakers in the various professions including media personnel; the arts; politics; social services; law and military life. In the month of March, the chapter participates in such national activities as annual Sisterhood Month and International Day of Service (AIDS Awareness Initiative) to benefit the community.

National level programs for girls sponsored by the chapter are the Dr. Betty Shabazz Academy and Delta Gems (formerly known as Delteens). These programs are designed to encourage girls to seek careers in mathematics, science and technology.

(Note:"Delteens," organized in 1996 was designed to meet the needs and enhance the self-esteem of African American youth; and to emphasize the importance of taking responsibility; and the importance of making proper choices. Another opportunity designed to serve young people is the Mentoring Project at Gates Academy.)

As a Participating Member Organization (PMO) of the San Antonio Fiesta Commission, the chapter sponsors annual self-image workshops called "Growing Up Female" for girls in grades six through twelve.

The chapter's major fundraiser has been the Delta Queen of Hearts Coronation. An elegant reception is held in honor of the queen's court at this event in the spring of the year. On such occasions, deserving high school graduating senior young women are awarded scholarships intended to help them along their paths to successful futures.

From time to time, chapter members have held offices in the sorority on national, regional, state and cluster levels.

The chapter consciously continues to enrich the organization and provide nourishing experiences for individual members through leadership training events. Some of the activities that Sorors participate in are Deltones (singers); Delta Dear/Delta Darling activities; Delta Woman of the Year Awards; Membership Roundup Parties and other social events. May Week activities include the May Day observance when the chapter recognizes outstanding elementary and middle school students as well as community friends and supportive businesses.

Arts and Letters projects include Delta Authors on Tour (participating Deltas from across the nation); book signing events and book reviews. As the chapter promotes excellence in public service and human welfare, the chapter's record of community involvement in constructive projects and programs is exemplary. The chapter holds NAACP Golden Life Membership status. Among other community interests supported by the chapter are the San Antonio Food Bank; San Antonio Boys and Girls Club; YWCA; Girls Scouts of the San Antonio Area; and churches. In support of the American Cancer Society's 2006 Relay for Life, volunteer members raised $2,500.00 for the cure for cancer. As"Team Delta," volunteer Sorors achieved first place status as well as the"Most Spirited Award."

Since 1986, the chapter has sponsored the grand annual Poinsettia Ball which is a fund raiser supporting the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). More than $100,000.00 has been raised in support of historically Black colleges and universities.

The chapter combines efforts with the local Pan Hellenic Council Chapter by participating in activities that benefit the community and strengthen relationships between other Greek letter organizations.

Dr. (*Soror) Helen Elsie Austin, Eighth National President, moved to the San Antonio community at the age of ninety-six to be with her family, Soror Austin's presence in our area added a warm and distinguished aura within the local sisterhood. Her passage to Omega Omega Chapter occurred on October 26, 2004.

Written by the Delta Sigma Theta historian, January 2007.

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Scope and Content Note

Administrative and membership records, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, programs, and a scrapbook of an African American public service sorority established in San Antonio in 1933. The collection is divided into seven series: History,Administrative Records, Membership, Events and Programs, Conferences and Conventions, Publications, andScrapbook. While the collection spans seven decades of the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter's existence, the records are often brief and incomplete. Meeting minutes and financial records are absent from the collection altogether, and only fragmentary material documents the sorority's public service events and programs emphasized under the national Five Point Thrust program agenda. The records are strong, however, in documenting the sorority's membership, annual Queen of Hearts Coronation/Jabberwock performance fundraisers, and Founder's Day celebrations.

History and Administrative Records provide a strong sense of the Grand National Chapter's beginnings and organizational structure, with a less extensive, but helpful overview of the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter's founding.

Membership is a strong series in that it contains a near complete run of directories/yearbooks from 1959-1994. Also of particular interest are papers and newspaper clippings of a select number of prominent members, along with a file of clippings recognizing individual sorors within the community.

One of the strongest series in the collection is Events and Programs. The records in this series are not clearly defined under the categories of the national Five Point Thrust program agenda. Instead, the bulk of the records in this series reflect the sorority's largest and most publicized events: Queen of Hearts Coronation/Jabberwock Performance fundraiser; and Founders' Day celebrations, at which the Delta Woman of the Year is announced. Both of these annual events are well documented with programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings. Only limited information is available under the subseries"Other Programs and Events" in the form of newspaper clippings and a few photographs and programs. This subseries includes community service programs and events such as the annual Poinsettia Ball, musical and educational teas, scholarship award program, and career workshops.

Another strong series is Conferences and Conventions, which contains souvenir programs, newspaper clippings and photographs from Southwest Regional conferences and national conventions for various years. Of particular local interest is the small amount of Southwest Regional conference planning materials from 1982 when San Antonio hosted the conference.

An informative source to learn more about activities of the Grand National Chapter and other regional chapters is the sorority's national newsletter, The Delta, under Publications. However, only a few newsletters of the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter and the Southwest Regional newsletter are available in the collection. Several issues of the San Antonio area African American newspaper, Snap, document the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter's activities, events, and representation in this media.

A Scrapbook is of particular interest in that it provides ephemera of the sorority and additional newspaper clippings, photographs, and programs from particular events dating 1949-1965.

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Organization of Collection


  • Series 1. History
  • Series 2. Administrative Records
  • Series 3. Membership
  • Series 4. Events and Programs
  • Series 5. Conferences and Conventions
  • Series 6. Publications
  • Series 7. Scrapbook

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.

Usage Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Records must be obtained from University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

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Index Terms

Personal Names
Hemmings, Myra Lillian Davis, 1887-1968.
Briscoe, Hattie Elam, 1916-
Organizations
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. San Antonio Alumnae Chapter.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Psi Sigma Chapter (San Antonio, Tex.)
Subjects
African American women--Texas--San Antonio--Societies and clubs--History.
Women--Texas--San Antonio--Societies, etc.--History.
African Americans--Texas--San Antonio.
Greek letter societies--Texas--San Antonio.
Locations
San Antonio (Tex.)--Social life and customs--20th century.
Genres/Formats
Clippings.
Scrapbooks.
Photographs.
Correspondence.
Local Subjects
African Americans
Clubs and Organizations
Women's Groups

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. San Antonio Alumnae Chapter Records, 1934-1998, MS 73, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

Acquisition Information

Received as a gift from the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta in 1997.

Processing Information

Processed by Toni Jeske, May 1999.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

History

This series contains a brief 1944 history of the Psi Sigma Chapter, forerunner to the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. Also included in this series is a thorough undated history of the Grand National Chapter titled The History and Development of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. A history of the Psi Sigma Chapter can be found on page 92 of the Scrapbook (Box OM1) along with a publication of the Grand National Chapter titled The Delta Story for the Biennium, 1954-1956.
Box Folder
1 1 Psi Sigma Chapter, undated
2 Grand National Chapter, 1944, 1987

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Administrative Records

Very few administrative records exist for the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter. Committee materials are extremely fragmentary consisting mainly of committee membership rosters. Only four meeting agendas exist. Records concerning the Myra Davis Hemmings Resource Center provide information on the acquisition and dedication of the sorority's meeting house. While administrative records of the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter are scarce, more is gleaned from administrative records of the Grand National Chapter under which the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter operated. Constitution and by-laws, reports, and a handbook are informative on the Grand National Chapter's services to local chapters, local chapter leadership structures, initiation process, conventions, undergraduate program, publications, protocol, history, and founders.
Box Folder
1 San Antonio Alumnae Chapter
3 Calendar of events, 1994-1995
4 Committee materials, 1990-1994
5 Meeting Agendas, 1984-1992
6 Myra Davis Hemmings Resource Center, 1982-1986
Grand National Chapter
Reports
9 Analysis for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1946
11 Biennium Reports, 1956, 1977
Other Chapters
13 General, 1953 and undated

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Membership

This series contains a near complete run of membership directories for the years 1959-1994. Missing years are 1961-1964 and 1967-1975. Papers of individual soros contain both personal correspondence and brochures regarding their sorority activities as well as unrelated personal activities. For example, the papers of Myra Hemmings include teaching materials from the 1940s and newspaper clippings from a play she directed in 1946. Helen Butler's papers include materials related to her art exhibits and church involvement.
Box Folder
1 14 Directories/Yearbooks, 1959-1994
Prominent Members
15 Photographs of founder and past presidents, 1957-1964
Founder Myra Lillian Davis Hemmings
16 Papers, 1941-1976 and undated
17 Newspaper clippings, 1946-1947
18 Barbara Jordan newspaper clippings, 1971-1991
19 Hattie Briscoe newspaper clippings, 1957-1991
Helen Butler
20 Biographies, 1990 and undated
21 Papers, 1964-1990
22 Newspaper clippings, 1970-1993
23 High School Reunion Photographs, [1978]
24 Lucia Thomas biography and photograph, n.d.
25 Individual sorors recognized within the community, 1956-1992
New Member Initiation
26 Newspaper clippings, 1958, 1970-1971, 1991
27 Ceremony program, 1983
28 Photographs, 1991
29 Photographs, 1993
Box Folder
2 1 Golden Life Membership Pledges, 1970
2 Obituaries and Memorials, 1981-1991

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Events and Programs

Events best documented are the annual Queen of Hearts/Jabberwock performances and Founders' Day celebrations. In particular, the series offers a complete run of Jabberwock souvenir programs for the years 1952-1997, supplemented by newspaper clippings from 1958-1989. Founders' Day materials also include a near complete run of souvenir programs for the years 1950-1998, supported with newspaper clippings from 1958-1992. Photographs in particular offer insight into the social atmosphere of these events. Information on other community service events and programs are mainly limited to newspaper clippings and a few informational flyers. Additional souvenir programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings on events such as the annual educational tea, Founders' Day celebrations, Jabberwocks, and especially the 1963 Golden Anniversary of the sorority, for the years 1957-1963 are located in the Scrapbook (S7).
Box Folder
2 Queen of Hearts Coronations/Jabberwock Performances
3 Souvenir Programs, 1952-1981
4 Souvenir Programs, 1982-1987
5 Souvenir Programs, 1988-1991
6 Souvenir Programs, 1992-1997
Photographs
7 Published in Jabberwock souvenir program, 1983
8 Published in Jabberwock souvenir program, 1984
Box Folder
3 1 Mini photo albums of coronation, 1983
2 Queen of Hearts contestants, 1990
3 Queen of Hearts contestants, 1994
4 Newspaper clippings, 1958-1989
5 Correspondence, 1980-1985
Founder's Day
6 Programs, 1950-1998
7 Newspaper clippings, 1958-1992
8 Photographs, 1958, 1976-1991
Other Events and Programs
9 Career workshop at Bishop College, 1977
10 Community Workshops, 1989
11 School America Project, 1986-1990
12 Mini Fiesta, 1988
13 Programs for sponsored events, 1943-1991
14 Newspaper clippings, 1952-1992
15 Photographs, 1952-1963, 1989, and undated
Box Folder
4 1 Deltones, 1985-1988

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Conferences and Conventions

Newspaper clippings and materials collected at the conference from various years offer insight into what topics and concerns were addressed at conventions and conferences. Included are invitations to special receptions, conference souvenir and entertainment programs, and newspaper clippings. At least one Southwest Regional Conference souvenir program exists for each decade except the 1960s. Additional souvenir programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings on conventions and conferences during 1950-1963 are located in the Scrapbook (S7).
Box Folder
4 Southwest Regional Conferences
2 Souvenir Programs, 1938-1989
3 Planning materials for conference in San Antonio, 1982
4 Newspaper clippings, 1982-1989
Photographs
5 Conference attendees, 1957
6 Published in souvenir program, 1982
7 Conference attendees, 1982
National Conventions
8 Conference Materials, 1952, 1960
9 Conference Materials, 1971
10 Conference Materials, 1973, 1975, 1977
11 Conference Materials, 1981-1985
12 Souvenir Programs, 1947-1948, 1975-1979
Special Convention Features
13 Golden Anniversary, [more in S7] 1963
14 “Our Heritage” Program, 1981
15 Workbooks, 1956-1957, 1971-1975
16 Proceedings , 1956
17 Newspaper clippings, 1956-1992
18 Photographs, 1958, 1973

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Publications

At least a few issues of the Grand National Chapter's monthly newsletter, The Delta, are present for each decade between 1946 and 1990. The newsletter offers information on events and programs of the National Grand Chapter as well as highlights of regional chapters of the sorority. The Delta Journal contains papers on issues of concern to the sorority's membership, such as job opportunities for African-Americans. No Delta Journals are available from the 1960s within this collection. Issues of Snap highlight events of the San Antonio Alumnae Chapter, many of which offer photographs identifying events and sorors.
Box Folder
5 Local
1 Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae Chapter Newsletter, 1989-1990
2 Snap featuring Delta Sigma Theta events or members, 1958-1960
2 Snapfeaturing Delta Sigma Theta events or members, 1984-1985
3 Snapfeaturing Delta Sigma Theta events or members, 1986, 1989
5 Miscellaneous publications, 1976-1986
Regional
6 Southwest Regional newsletter, 1952, 1955
National
Box Folder
6 7 The Delta newsletter, 1946-1990
Box Folder
5 8 The Delta Journal, 1939-1948
Box Folder
6 1 The Delta Journal , 1950-1956
2 The Delta Journal 1975-1987
3 Reprint article from The Delta Journal: "Nation-wide Analysis of Job Opportunities for Negro Women," 1941
4 Brochures, 1973-1990
5 Miscellaneous, 1957, 1977

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Scrapbook

The scrapbook mainly contains programs, invitations, photographs, and newspaper clippings documenting programs and events, as well as conferences and conventions. In particular, materials relate to Founders' Day celebrations, Annual Educational Teas, Jabberwocks, Southwest Regional Conferences, and National Conventions. Also appearing are clippings on community service, and newspaper articles about Hattie Ruth Elam Briscoe. Due to the scrapbook's oversize and fragile condition, it cannot be photocopied. When viewing the scrapbook, please use extreme care in turning its brittle and easily torn pages. Pages of the scrapbook are numbered on each lower outer corner. The page numbers correspond to folders containing items that have detached from the scrapbook.
Box Folder
OM 1 Scrapbook, 1949-1963
Box Folder
6 Loose items from scrapbook
6 Pages 1-46
7 Pages 50-98
8 Unidentified photographs, 1957-1977 and undated

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