On January 4, 1852, three young women, all juniors at Wesleyan College, met to lay the groundwork for the Philomathean Society. Over the next two months, the three Founders gathered additional members, created a constitution, devised an Initiation Service and adopted secret and open mottos. March 4, 1852 marks the day when the Philomathean Society was introduced to the Wesleyan campus and is the date Phi Mu observes as our Founders’ Day.
By the turn of the century, the Philomathean Society had developed a strong body of alumnae, a history rich in tradition and the confidence to expand into a national organization. On August 1, 1904, the Philomathean Society was chartered by the State of Georgia as a national organization with the exclusive use of the Greek letters “Phi Mu” and the right to establish additional chapters on other campuses.
Described as studious and talented, Mary Ann served as the first President of the Philomathean Society and was the only Founder to live to see the establishment of Phi Mu Fraternity. The first badge was made from a $20 gold piece gifted to Mary Ann by her father. One of her granddaughters and three of her great-great granddaughters became Phi Mus.
At age 16, she was the oldest of the Founders. She was the most reserved of the three and was known for her sweet face, dark hair and eyes and shy nature. One of Mary Elizabeth’s granddaughters was initiated into Phi Mu at the 75th anniversary National Convention in 1927.
At age 15, she was the youngest of the Founders and was the most spirited, described as “radiating an atmosphere of refinement and culture.” One of Martha’s daughters and one of her great-granddaughters eventually became Phi Mus.
Phi Mu is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the world’s largest umbrella organization specifically charged with advancing the sorority experience through its 26 women’s-only inter/national member organizations. NPC sororities are located on more than 670 campuses with over 400,000 undergraduate members in over 3,200 collegiate chapters. Phi Mu has been part of the National Panhellenic Conference since 1911.
Want to take a closer look at Phi Mu history? Phi Mu has partnered with HistoryIT to digitize some of the Fraternity’s archives. Visit Phi Mu’s Digital History to view photographs, documents and other memorabilia dating back to the earliest days of our organization.