It all began on April 5, 1895, at the University of Arkansas when four young women, with the help of a local dentist, established the secrets and symbolism that today bind over 260,000 women. This small band of women founded Chi Omega after realizing a need for an organization that would foster both friendship and respect for the potential and inherent value of women. Over the years, Chi Omega has provided its members with unique opportunities in leadership, scholarship, and lifelong friendship - striving to provide each Sister with a commitment to personal integrity, excellence in academic and intellectual pursuits, intergenerational participation, community service, leadership opportunities and social enrichment.
Chi Omega has a rich history dating back to its founding at the University of Arkansas on April 5, 1895. Born in the late 19th century, Chi Omega's four women founders grew to adulthood as a rapidly expanding economy fostered industrialization and urbanization. And they were instilled with the spirit of America, with values of independence, innovation, and adventure. They could not have known how influential their lives would be.
The Fraternity's Five Founders, Jobelle Holcombe, Jean Vincenheller, Ina May Boles, Alice Simonds, and Dr. Charles Richardson, wrote the Chi Omega Constitution and Ritual. Dr. Richardson, a dentist by trade, crafted the first badge out of dental gold. The organization grew locally that first year with 11 out of the 14 original members returning to the university in September of 1895. During this time, Chi Omega began to acquire a reputation for determination and poise, and for doing things well. Chi Omega was founded with the intent of becoming a national organization and it expanded into every part of the country. Whenever a new chapter was installed, members in other chapters wore Chi Omega's colors beneath their pins and sent letters of welcome and congratulations.
By 1904, Chi Omega extended through Texas, Nebraska and California, and as far north as Virginia and Washington, D.C. The Fraternity realized the need to enter the Northeast, and over the next few years founded chapters in Pennsylvania, Maine, and New York City. In the early 1900s, social service was regarded as a collegiate activity of the highest importance and Chi Omegas gave countless hours of time, unbounded energy, and hard-earned monies to their local communities. Chi Omega was the first women's fraternity to undertake a major gift to a university. Mary Love Collins and Dr. Richardson scouted a location for a Greek Theatre at the University of Arkansas. The theatre still stands, with five words engraved on the frieze: Knowledge, Integrity, Courage, Culture, and Intelligence.
Over the last century, Chi Omega has grown to an organization with over 300,000 initiates from 173 collegiate chapters. The Chi Omega Foundation was founded in 1982 to fund the educational goals of the Fraternity. Chi O Creations, our in-house boutique, opened in 1989. In 1994, the Fraternity moved to its new national headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The Chi Omega Executive Headquarters employs about 50 staff members and supports the day-to-day operations of the Fraternity, the Chi Omega Foundation, and Chi O Creations.