Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded January 16, 1920 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. The five illustrious founders of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Arizona Clever Stemons, Myrtle Tyler Faithful, Viola Tyler Goings, Fannie Pettie Watts, and Pearl A. Neal dared to depart from the traditional coalitions for Black women and sought to establish a new organization. Their vision was to encourage the highest standards of scholarship through scientific, literary, cultural and educational programs; promote volunteerism on college campuses and in the community; foster sisterhood; and exemplify finer womanhood. These ideals are reflected in the sorority’s national programs for which its members and auxiliary groups provide significant volunteer service, financial capital, and professional talent to educate the public, assist youth, enrich community outreach programs, fund scholarships, support organized charities and promote legislation for civic and social change.
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The Atlantic Region was formed in 1944 when the northern states of the Eastern Region were separated from the southern states. The region, comprised of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Africa and Germany has the distinction of being home to three of the Founders of Zeta Phi Beta. They are Arizona Cleaver Stemons of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Myrtle Tyler Faithful of Towson, Maryland; and Fannie Pettie Watts of Brooklyn, New York.
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Maryland is the first state where the expansion of Zeta occurred beyond Howard University in Washington DC. Gamma Chapter was established on November 2, 1921 at Morgan College (Morgan State University) and was charted as the second chapter within the sisterhood. Gamma is unique because it is the second chapter within Zeta but bears the name of the third letter of the Greek alphabet. This was specifically done, so that, Gamma would bear the same name as its brother chapter Gamma of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. also located at Morgan College. Morgan State University is the first campus beyond Howard University where both the Zeta and Sigma chapters bear the same name.
Maryland not only has the honor of being the first state where Zeta expanded its reach beyond Howard University, it is also home to the first graduate chapter within the sorority. Alpha Zeta Chapter was established in September 1923 for members of Zeta who completed their college degrees and wanted to continue their service to the community and sisterhood beyond the campus level. Alpha Zeta is located in Baltimore, Maryland and was chartered by five former members of Gamma Chapter.
Maryland is also the home to our Fourth International President Nellie Buchanan. Nellie Buchanan served from 1923-1925. Nellie Buchanan was one of five members of Gamma Chapter that became charter members of Alpha Zeta Chapter. During her tenure as International President, Nellie Buchanan expanded the sorority by establishing new chapters within the country. Beta Zeta, the second graduate chapter within Zeta, was established under her administration in Washington DC. As a newly recognized national organization, Zeta was in need of a headquarters location to conduct the business of the sorority that was conducted by Alpha Chapter located at Howard University. Buchanan established a centralized location for the operation of Zeta’s business. Zeta’s headquarters was located at 1129 N. Calhoun Street in Baltimore, Maryland.
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The Alpha Zeta Chapter was organized at Baltimore, Maryland, on November 16, 1923, as the first Graduate Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. under the leadership of five influential young ladies, Sorors Iradelle Bond Williams, Nellie A. Buchanan, Florence Purviance, Ethel Thompson, and Jeanette Johnson Moore (Laws), who were part of the Gamma Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority – the first Greek Letter Sorority established at Morgan College (now Morgan State University) – founded in November 1921. They successfully convinced President John O. Spencer of the importance of continuing to promote the ideals and objectives of Scholarship, Community Service, Sisterly Love, and Finer Womanhood beyond campus into the greater Baltimore Community.
After graduating from Morgan, they met to design, develop and execute a plan that culminated in the chartering of the Alpha Zeta Chapter, the first Graduate Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in the home of Iradelle Bond Williams, whose dynamic and dedicated leadership provided impetus and direction for the newly created entity. Thereafter, Soror Jeannette Johnson Moore was designated as the first president and who led the growth of the chapter from its Charter members to include Morgan alumnae and others who shared belief in the concerns of the chapter. These included: Sorors Mary Laws, Alice Taylor, Bernice Naylor, Ethel Cummings Hodges, Ethel Taylor Payne, Mary Williams Fortune, Marian Webb, O’Goldia Smith, Alice Wilson, and Alma Kelly. In 1923, Soror Nellie A. Buchanan was elected and served as the fourth National President of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, until 1925. Since that time, many of its members have served the sorority on the national, regional, and state levels.
Moreover, the Chapter regards itself as a vehicle for promoting the growth and development of the individual, not only in sound scholarship, but also in human values as well. As such, the Alpha Zeta chapter has been instrumental in developing and supporting initiatives for community growth at the local, regional, and national levels that include: Foster and Adopted Parenting Programs in conjunction with the Baltimore City Department of Social Services; Zeta Educational Center which offers literacy and counseling services to children and adults; ‘Just Say No to Drugs’ Clubs in Baltimore City Public Schools; The Stork’s Nest, an incentive birth defects prevention program in partnership with the March of Dimes Foundation, the University of Maryland Medical Systems, and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; The Afro-American Newspapers’ Mrs. Santa Program; Maryland Food Bank Fund; The Bea Gaddy Women and Children Center Food Pantry; the Fuel Fund of Maryland; The American Heart Association; The United Negro College Fund; Baltimore Women’s Fair; The Y.W.C.A. Capital Campaign; The Maryland League of Women’s Clubs; The National Council of Negro Women; Friends of Morgan State University; and the NAACP – Life Member, Back-to-School Stay-in-School Campaigns.
As mentioned above, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and its Alpha Zeta Chapter are committed to scholarship and community service, and, as such, provides guidance to children and adolescents through the previously mentioned ‘Just Say No to Drugs’ Clubs in Baltimore City Public Schools, as well as its own mentorship programs for girls: the Arconettes (14 – 18 years of age); Amichettes (9-13 years of age); and Pearlettes (9 years of age and younger). In aiding and enhancing the growth of the Sorority, The Alpha Zeta Chapter sponsors, supports, and advises four undergraduate chapters: Gamma – Morgan State University; Nu Gamma – Coppin State University; Theta Eta – University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Epsilon Rho – Sojourner Douglas College. No organization can meet the community’s needs without support and assistance, and since 1985, a group of ladies, known as the Friends of Zeta – the Amicae of Greater Baltimore have strived to assist the Alpha Zeta Chapter achieve its goals.
In 1984, the chapter established the Myrtle Tyler Faithful Fund (MTFF) to honor Myrtle Tyler Faithful, one of the Sorority’s Five Founders and the Sorority’s Second National President. Founder Faithful, an Ohio native and Howard University alumnus, was a long-time Baltimore Area resident, educator in the Anne Arundel Public School System, and active life-member of the Alpha Zeta Chapter (see www.zphib1920.org for more information about Myrtle Tyler Faithful).
The Fund was incorporated in 1985 as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization to award scholarship grants to worthy students for the pursuit of higher education; to conduct community education programs which aid in the education and vocational improvement of individuals and raise community standards; to engage in charitable activities for the improvement in the life of the Greater Baltimore Community; to conduct appropriate research related to the purpose of the Fund; and to construct the Zeta Center for Healthy and Active Aging which serves as a resource for seniors residing in the Park Heights Community. The Chapter established an Advisory Council to assist the Fund with promoting and accomplishing its objectives. Through the cooperation of the school system, institutions of higher education, and community support the Myrtle Tyler Faithful Fund has awarded annual scholarships to college-bound high school students and continuing undergraduate students for their educational pursuits. Please visit our MTFF scholarship page to learn about the Myrtle Tyler Faithful Fund Scholarships.