Although there were three women's groups represented at Boston University in 1888 (Kappa Kappa Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta and Alpha Phi), Sarah Ida Shaw saw a need for a group which would be different from the others. She said to her friend, Eleanor Dorcas Pond, "Let us found a society that shall be kind alike to all and think more of a girl's inner self and character than of her personal appearance."
So the two young women began the work of creating a new national fraternity. Later Sarah wrote, "...The two enthusiastic friends were unaware of the fact that there was something stupendous about the task they had set hands, heads and hearts to accomplish. They were working for a principle, and it never occurred to them that there could be such a thing as failure. Earnestness of purpose, energy and enthusiasm had brought them both success in college and why should not these same qualities bring assurance of good fortune to the new venture."
Not only did they found a fraternity, but at the same time they wrote the rituals and constitution, and designed the emblems. The choosing of the name was a joint decision. Eleanor suggested a triple letter and Sarah chose the letter and worked on the Greek mottos and passwords. Inspiration for these came from a variety of sources: Egyptian lore, Hindu mysticism, Greek and astronomy, reflecting the wide and various interests of Sarah Ida Shaw.
Never before had a sorority been founded so completely and with such depth of meaning from the very beginning, and the actual day of founding is beautifully described in Sarah's words.
"At last, all was finished on Tuesday...November 27, 1888, but there was one more meeting of the two friends on the following afternoon before they separated for the Thanksgiving recess, at the top of the college building in what was then the Philological Library. It was there that the two girls embraced each other and said 'Tri Delta is founded'...It is not strange that the hearts of these sponsors were full of emotion as together they went out of the college building, for each felt there were added reasons why her Thanksgiving should be a very happy one. When they came to the parting of the ways at the historic Boston Common, Miss Pond said, 'We can make the girls we initiate promise secrecy, but what shall hold us two?' So there in the shadow of the old Park Street Church, with a bright new moon and three brilliant stars nearby...the two faithful friends clasped hands and said, 'In the presence of these myriads of witnesses, I swear eternal loyalty and fealty to Delta Delta Delta.'"
The purpose of DELTA DELTA DELTA shall be to establish a perpetual bond of friendship among its members, to develop a stronger and more womanly character, to broaden the moral and intellectual life, and to assist its members in every possible way.
It shall also be the purpose of DELTA DELTA DELTA to promote and develop mutually beneficial relationships between the Fraternity and the colleges and universities where the Fraternity has established chapters, to develop qualities of unselfish leadership among its members, and to encourage them to assume, with integrity and devotion to moral and democratic principles, the highest responsibilities of college women.
Symbols of Delta Delta Delta
The Pearl: The pearl is the jewel of Tri Delta. It was chosen to symbolize the new member, because it is the one jewel that grows, developing from a tiny grain of sand into a thing of great value and beauty.
The Pine: The pine tree is a symbol of Tri Delta's collegiate members because it represents growth and lofty aspirations.
The Pansy: The pansy is Tri Delta's flower. It is a symbol of alumnae membership and the third step in the lifetime development of Delta Delta Delta’s members.
The dolphin: The dolphin is recognized as an additional symbol of importance as it was considered to be a good omen by the ancient Greeks. It symbolizes rebirth, friendship and leadership. In Tri Delta, the dolphin is symbolic of clear skies and smooth sailing and has special significance for Fraternity leaders.
Poseidon: The patron Greek divinity of Tri Delta is Poseidon, god of the sea and one of the three rulers of the universe.