Part & Apart in the Thirties

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Beta Xi Chapter Forms

In 1937, students from Cornell and Ithaca College joined to form a local chapter of the African-American sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. They celebrated with a buffet supper in one of the private dining rooms in Willard Straight Hall. In March 1940, they held an Open House at Southside Community Center. The Ivy Leaf reported, “over one hundred and seventy-five guests were present to wish future success to the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha.” Cornell Dean of Women R. Louise Fitch, who had denied residency in Sage College to African-American women in the 1920s, was a guest of honor at the event. Members of Ithaca’s AKA had the privilege of meeting Marian Anderson that year when she came to Cornell to present a concert at Bailey Hall. The members of AKA did not have a house, but they did form a community on Cornell’s campus, with friends at Ithaca College, and within the Ithaca community.

Charter Members of the Ithaca Chapter of the Sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha from Ivy Leaf Magazine, June 1937. Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.

Sitting (left to right): Amanda E. McKee, Edna Over Gray (Regional Director), Rose Toomer Brunson, Sarah E. Thomas.

Standing (left to right): Nellie F. Tidline, Dorcas L. Boddie, Madeline F. Small.

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