Women's History Month: Curiosity

March 11, 2022

While the Founders reorganized Alpha Chapter in the fall of 1907, Elizabeth Coulter Stephenson was embarking on advanced work at Cornell University in New York state. At that time, a woman college graduate was rare and a female pursuing graduate studies was even rarer. However, Bess as she was affectionately known, came from a family with a long history of women pursuing higher education. Bess attended the country school near her home in the country near Oxford, Ohio and at the age of fourteen went to high school in Oxford. She graduated in 1898 with a high grade point average and went on to Oxford College to further her education. She was attracted to this one of the two women’s colleges in Oxford by the fact that her grandmother, a great aunt and her mother were all alumnae of the institution.

Her time while at college was entirely taken up with her studies and keeping house for her brothers who were studying at Miami. The distance from their home led them to rent a house for themselves. Upon graduating from Oxford College in 1902, Bess received a Bachelor of Arts degree and was given second honors in the classical course. The following fall, she entered Miami University and numbered among her friends the Founders of Delta Zeta.
Her interest in Delta Zeta began one spring day in 1903 when Anna Simmons approached her in the main hall of Miami University and asked her to become a member of Delta Zeta, explaining the purpose of the budding organization. This appealed strongly to the girl known as Bess Coulter by her classmates so that there was little hesitation in accepting the invitation. Not only were all the members of Delta Zeta her good friends but a further appeal was that this organization was founded with the purpose of becoming a national sorority. Little did she know at the time, but Bess would eventually become our first extension volunteer.
While at Cornell she was familiarly known by her associates as Betty. She drew about her a small group of congenial friends who established the second chapter of Delta Zeta while the Alpha Chapter was being reorganized. The founding of this chapter was one of the happiest events of her life. Not one refusal met her invitation, to become a charter member of Beta Chapter, by the girls who were then and have even since been her devoted friends. Every member of this group was outstanding in her personal and scholastic attainments. And, on her birthday March 14, 1908, she had the privilege of initiating the founding members of the Beta Chapter.