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Encyclopedia of Baldwin Wallace University History: Greek Life - B

An Index of Historical Content and Their Sources

Beta Sigma Omicron

Citation: Dwight L. Dumond, ed., Grindstone (Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 1921), pp. 148-152.

Tactitus says: - "The principal office of history I take to be this: to prevent virtuous actions from being forgotten." Because we have an inborn love of traditions, especially traditions concerning our Alma Mater and what her students have accomplished in past decades, we eagerly scan the scarcely legible records of the days that are gone. The ink has faded with the years, and the written records have become dim, but the fact remains that tasks which will endure were undertaken by our forebears in the halls of Baldwin-Wallace College. Altho, in the year 1870 three men's societies, organized for the purpose of literacy and forensic development, existed at Baldwin-Wallace College, no organization had been founded for the women at the institution. It was to change this situation that nine young women met in the parlor of the Ladies' Hall on January 16, 1870, and organized the Bettina Society of German Wallace College. The charter members of this society were Amelia Muhlemann, Louise Rothweiler, Anna Rothenberger, Louise Loebenstein, Louise Schuler, Emma Schwerdtmann, Elizabeth Wichtermann, Louise Wichtermann, and Emma Wustenberg. The Misses Mary and Sopha Shupp, Anna Auctman, Catherine Roeder, and Mary Weinbroer were taken into the society as members during the year 1870, constituting the first additions to the newly organized Society.

The records tell us that these young women "resolved to meet regularly every Monday night at 7:00 o'clock" for the purpose of "intellectual development and practice in public orations, declamations, essays and so forth." All German speaking women students and former students desiring to join were eligible for membership.

It is of interest to note that the chief privilege extended to members of the society was that of using the books belonging to the Wallace Library and those belonging to the Bettina Society.

When today we climb the three flights of stairs leading to our pleasant warm, steam-heated room on the third floor of the Administration Building and exhaustedly gasp, "Why don't they have an elevator?" it would be well to remember that way back in the seventies the small parlor room of the then Ladies' Hall was the Society Room our founders had. We read with interest in the time-yellowed records that Miss Rothweiler and Miss Wichtermann were appointed as a committee to purchase an oil can, lamp, and oil to illuminate the "Soc" room, and to ask the authorities for permission to use the wood belonging to the "parlor stove" for the purpose of keeping warm. 

The society grew steadily and worked out its purpose with such good results that a number of the girls attending Baldwin University asked permission to become members. This caused the constitution to somewhat revised in 1875, and the membership basis to be somewhat broadened, making it possible for any young woman in German Wallace College or in Baldwin University to become a member. The purpose of the Society was more carefully specified so that it came to read - "the purpose of this society shall be the intellectual development of its members, and practice in writing, reading and delivering essays, declamations, orations, etc., in the German Language."

For twenty years, until 1896, the society retained its original name, principles, and purpose.

On Oct. 3, 1896, Dr. Carl Riemenschneider, then President of German Wallace, called the young women students of the college together for the purpose of reorganizing the literary for women. Mary Schall, Helen Hannes, Kate Heinemann, Anne Weidemann, Augusta Eppelle, Estella Schneider, Clara Wunderlich, Selma Marting, and Edith Wilker were present at this meeting. Miss Mary Schaal was elected President Pro Tem. Misses Weidemann, Hannes, and Wilker were appointed as a committee to draw up a new constitution.

On the evening of October 5, 1896, the newly organized society met in the Goethe Society room which had kindly been offered them by the college authorities, the one which we now occupy. The new organization adopted as its name - Philomathean Literary Society; its motto - Decimus agere agendo; its colors - buff and maroon; its flower - the red rose; its purpose - "mutual promotion in intellectual culture."

The first officers of the Philomathean Literary Society were: President, Mary Schaal; Vice President, Estella Schneider; Corresponding Secretary, Carrie Schaal. Miss Ottilia Weidemann was its first critic.

Having decided the very important questions of a name, constitution and officers the society proceeded to make its new home habitable. The room was at hand - but it was cold and barren. First of all a stove was procured from Dr. Marting thru the agency of his daughter Selma. Curtains, tables, a gavel, a carpet and chairs followed easily enough due to the unlimited enthusiasm of the girls and the student body in general, for the records tell us of numerous kindly bits of help given these pioneer Philos by Schillers, Goethes and Germanias. In these days of high cost of everything, it hardly seems possible that twenty-five years ago our Philomathean sisters record of having bought "just the chairs we need for the room" at $30.00 a dozen. We are inclined to say with Tennyson, "Come, Time, and teach me many years, For now so strange do these things seem," when we read that the Philomatheans had a "real" candy sale in 1898 to pay off some of the debt incurred by the purchase of a piano and paid $2.10 for twenty pounds of walnuts and $12.66 for a BARREL of sugar. It is also interesting to note that for several years the Philomathean piano was used for practicing by some of the best students in the department of music.

The programs of the past twenty years offer many interesting conjectures. Debates such as this: Resolved that honor is more beneficial to mankind than riches. Resolved - That the woman and not the man should have the privilege of proposing. The latter is recorded as having been decided unanimously in the affirmative. Debates, narrations, descriptions, essays, declamations and extempos form the most frequent numbers.

That the musical talent of the society has always been one of its outstanding features can be concluded from the fact that several public concerts have been given within the last fifteen years. On March 4, 1902, a concert was rendered in the College Chapel with netted the society $65.00, the price of admission being twenty-five cents. It has been necessary, within the last decade, to limit the membership of the society in order that each member may truly work out the purpose of the organization by getting a certain amount of practice in literary work.

During the wartime just past, each girl in the society felt it her privilege as well as duty to aid the local Red Cross in the great work which it was doing to relieve the suffering and lighten the hardships of those fighting for the maintenance of our nation's principles. The Jubilee Campaign of the College which was carried on in 1917 was supported by the Society in the form of a Liberty Bond.

In writing the history of an organization it is difficult to decide what should be written and what should be left out. The pages of Philomathean history a we have found them in the records of past years lead us to realize more than ever what it means to come into a rich heritage of high ideals, strong principles, and devotion to work united by the bonds of a common purpose and mutual love and friendship. It is only on occassion of our Annual Banquets or Commencement Reunions that we, of this college generation, have the opportunity of meeting with Philomatheans of former college days, but we know they are found in all parts of the world - some as missionaries to foreign lands; others as promoters of missionary activity in our own country; several as educators, many as teachers, a number as musicians, wives of ministers; wives of faculty members; business women; journalists; doctors; nurses; the rest in conspicuous but not less important walks of life.

Considering the purpose for which this society was founded, knowing that for years its members have striven to accomplish that purpose, remembering that though they loved "society" much they loved their Alma Mater more, we as Philomatheans of 1920 are glad to sing: - 

"We're the co-eds of B-W-C
And we sing to our Alma Mater, Oh,
And as we sing, as verse we'll add,
To our Lit the Best in O-hi-O
Here's where the Philomatheans
Have built their Philo Hall
And Monday night, each sister true,
Will heed Phi Lambda Sigma's Call.
Philo, Philo, Philo, Philo,
Philo, Philo, Philo, Philo,
Here's a cheer - Phi Lambda Sigma,
With its echo - PHILO - RAH!

Citation: Dean Webb, ed., Grindstone (Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 1935), pp. 84-85.

In 1870 the Bettina Literary Society of German Wallace College was organized for the purpose of intellectual development. In 1896 with the aid of Dr. Carl Riemenschneider, President of the college, the society was reorganized into the Philomathean Society. In 1918 the organization took the name of Phi Lambda Sigma and obtained its state charter in 1924.

Phi Lambda Sigma became Alpha Pi Chapter of Beta Sigma Omicron, a national sorority, on March 23, 1929. Mrs. Robert Fitzpatrick Orth of St. Louis, acting president of Grand Council, presided over the installation of the new chapter.

Beta Sigma Omicron was elected to membership in National Panhellenic Congress on October 12, 1933.

Citation: “Beta Sororoity Becomes Alpha Phi,” The Exponent (Bera, OH), September 25, 1964, p. 5.

"Beta Sigma Omicron, ome of B-W's six national sororities, will affiliate with Alpha Phi International Fraternity", announced Beta President, Loell Revell. Negotiation's were completed last Monday evening.

Zeta Tall Alpha and Beta Sigma Omicron Nationals had affiliated this past summer. The B-W chapter and two other Beta chapters elected not to affiliate because of chapter duplications on their respective campuses.

According to Mrs. Dorothy McKelvey. B-W Historian and a Beta Alumni, all three of these chapters elected to affiliate with Alpha Phi independently of each other.

Alpha Phi was founded on Oct. 10, 1872. In addition to being one of the wealthiest and oldest women's fraternity, Alpha Phi was first to build a chapter house, first to plan for supervision of it's chapters by visiting officers, first to have an endowment fund of $50,000, and first to publish its history of Its first fifty years.

In 1902, Alpha Phi called the Intersorority Conference now the National Panhellenic Conference.

A pledging and initiation ceremony will take place in the near future. This will be announced at a later date.