Founded in 1895 at the University of Arkansas, Chi Omega is the largest women’s fraternal organization in the world with over 320,000 initiates, 178 collegiate chapters, and over 240 alumnae chapters. Throughout Chi Omega’s long and proud history, the Fraternity has brought its members unequaled opportunities for personal growth and development.


“Chi Omega looks back on its accomplishments with tremendous pride. Let us build on what we have accomplished, joining together the passion and love of Chi Omega to soar into our future.”

Melanie Shain, National President 1992-1998

The University of Arkansas,
Main Campus (1895-1910)

history_arkansasu Chi Omega has a rich history dating back to its founding at the University of Arkansas on April 5, 1895, when a rapidly expanding economy fostered industrialization and urbanization.

Our Founders

Our five founders were a small band of young women who, with the help of local dentist Dr. Charles Richardson, established the secrets, symbolism, and ritual that now bind together over 345,000 women from 180 collegiate chapters and more than 240 alumnae chapters.

“When we looked upon that pin, our hearts then opened up to Chi Omega. Even though we were very young, we must have realized something about the spirit of the fraternity.”

Jobelle Holcombe, Chi Omega Founder

Chi Omega’s Third Biennial Convention


With an increasingly popular national reputation and through the influence of alumnae and Dr. Richardson, 17 chapters were installed by 1905 when the Fraternity celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Chi Omega’s third biennial Convention was held in St. Louis, MO in 1904.

Psi Chapter, 1906


Pictured here:  Fifteen members of Psi Chapter at the University of Arkansas in 1906.

“Chi Omega is a home wherever you are. Yesterday – today – and tomorrow – for all generations.”

National Archivist Jan Boyd Blackwell, 1986-2006

Chi Omega’s First Badge


One of Chi Omega’s five founders, Dr. Charles Richardson, designed the first badge, which was made with scraps of hammered dental gold.

Chi Omega Badge


At Convention in 1906, the Chi Omega badge was standardized and the types of stones allowed were limited to only pearls or diamonds.

“Our badge represents the pride and honor that members feel as representatives of our Fraternity.”

National Archivist Lyn Harris

Chi Omega’s Symbol


Chi Omega’s symbol is the owl, a bird of wisdom, which reminds the membership of their responsibility to strive for knowledge and understanding throughout life.

Chi Omega Crest


Chi Omega’s crest was adopted in 1902.

Centered on the crest is the white carnation, with the Chi to the left and the Omega to the right of the flower. Above these symbols are both the skull and crossbones and the owl. Beneath the carnation are the five letters, Rho, Beta, Upsilon, Eta and Sigma. A laurel wreath, used by ancient Greeks to honor scholars and heroes, surrounds all of the emblems known and loved by Chi Omegas.

The Eleusis

Ida Pace Purdue, Chi Omega’s first magazine editor, published the first issue of The Eleusis in June 1899, when there were less than 100 members and the subscription price was $1/year.

Eleusis, the city of Greece where the mystic rites were performed, was named in honor of the son of Mercury, the messenger of the Gods; hence the name of Chi Omega’s messenger, The Eleusis.  The first issue included an account of the founding, histories and pictures of the chapters, and a directory of the members.  Today, we mail over 200,000 copies of The Eleusis two times per year to our collegiate and alumnae members.

National Panhellenic Conference

Chi Omega joined the National Panhellenic Conference in 1903.

The National Panhellenic Conference is the premier advocacy and support organization for the advancement of the sorority experience, covering 26 member groups on 654 campuses including 2,968 undergraduate chapters all over the nation.

Chapters Across the Country


By 1910, our Fraternity has expanded into every part of the continental United States. Within 15 years, Chi Omega chapters spanned the United States – from Maine to California, Oregon to Florida, Texas to Illinois. Whenever a new chapter was installed, members in other chapters wore Chi Omega’s colors beneath their pins and sent letters of welcome and congratulations.

Chi Omega Headquarters 1947-1973


Grandin Road, the Cincinnati, Ohio home of Mary Love Collins and Elizabeth Dyer, was considered Chi Omega’s Headquarters from 1947-1973.

Pictured here: the front view of Grandin Road.

Chi Omega Headquarters 1947-1973


Chi Omega has had eight national offices, including our current location in Memphis, TN.

Pictured here: the back view of Grandin Road.

Chi Omega Headquarters 1973-1986

history_hq3In 1973, Chi Omega moved to the 33rd floor of Carew Tower, the tallest building in Cincinnati, Ohio. Chi Omega was the first women’s Fraternity to have an Executive Office in an Office Building. Pictured here is the Council Room, in which the first meeting took place on June 18, 1973.

Chi Omega Headquarters 1986-1993


In 1986, the Chi Omega Executive Office was moved to the 31st floor of the same office building, Carew Tower, until their move to the present location in Memphis, TN in December 1993.

Chi Omega Headquarters 1994-Present


Chi Omega Executive Headquarters moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1994 and is currently home to Chi O Creations, the Executive Headquarters Staff, & the Chi Omega Foundation.

300,000th Member

Photo by Katherine Mendieta Photography

Chi Omega Fraternity reached a milestone in its history by initiating its 300,000th member in 2010. The Fraternity is the first group in the National Panhellenic Conference to achieve this landmark.

“We have inherited a package of timeless values and high standards, bestowed in love and trust by those who have gone before us. It is our responsibility to pass it on.”

Chi Omega National President Jean Mermoud Mrasek, 2004-2008