Beta Alpha Chapter at University of Virginia

Kappa Delta


The thought that over 100 years ago four young women could just sit down and create a sisterhood as enduring as Kappa Delta sometimes defies understanding, but that's exactly what they did.

Kappa Delta's founders were four very different women. They ranged in age from 15 to 23, yet brought a singular sense of purpose to this particular endeavor. Their dream was to create something more lasting than a club–a sorority! It was to be an entity that would grow beyond their own chapter at State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, VA, but they never dreamed that it would grown into an organization of more than 230,000 women, over 220 chartered chapters, and more than 500 chartered alumnae chapters nationwide.

Founded October 23, 1897, the sorority still holds true to its original objective adopted sometime before 1902...

"The object of Kappa Delta Sorority is the formation and perpetuation of good fellowship, friendship and sisterly love among its members; the encouragement of literature and education; the promotion of social interest; and the furtherance of charitable and benevolent purposes."

Kappa Delta's early leaders were women of vision. Today's women live that dream and keep the vision alive.

Kappa Delta's Four Founders...

Lenora Ashmore (Blackiston). Lenora was unconventional. She was a dreamer and an idealist filled with enthusiasm for new ideas. Nicknamed "Nora," she was a writer and a poet, able to put her thoughts into action. She was the one who first suggested the idea of forming a sorority, but was unable to put her lasting personal marks on Kappa Delta's beginnings because, after Christmas holiday, she transferred to Randolph-Macon Woman's College.

Julia Gardiner Tyler (Wilson). Charming and extremely intelligent, Julia came from a distinguished and respected family; her grandfather was John Tyler, former U.S. president, and her father was the president of the College of William & Mary. She was characterized as capable, dependable and possessing considerable artistic talent. She illustrated most of the school's first yearbook and designed the Kappa Delta badge. After helping to found the sorority, Julia spent another year at State Female Normal before transferring to Dana Hall, a preparatory school for Wellesley College where she earned her AB degree in 1904.

Sara Turner (White). Daughter of a Virginia senator, Sara was gracious and friendly, but known as being a bit more straight-laced than most students. She enjoyed her friends and social activities more than she did her studies. Sara did not return to college after that first year, but remained steadfastly involved with Kappa Delta throughout her long life.

Mary Sommerville Sparks (Hendrick). Mary was much loved and respected by all students at State Female Normal School. She was known for her fine character and gentle understanding. Mary had concern for others, perhaps because, at 23, she was more mature than the younger students. She was a Bible class leader. Mary stayed on and helped the fledging sorority through its early years.