Beta Eta Chapter was founded June 10, 1892; closed 1944
Reinstated as Beta Eta Deuteron in 1978
Stanford University (formerly The Leland Stanford Jr. University) established in 1891, Stanford, California
Beta Eta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Stanford University survived an earthquake; the chapter house was ravaged by fire, and members adjusted to the changes of two World Wars. But suddenly, in 1944, Beta Eta was gone, removed with all the other women’s fraternities from the Stanford campus.
The Early Years
Beta Eta was established in 1892, six months after a chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta. The two women’s fraternities, in an agreement about bidding procedures, set the stage for the Panhellenic organization.
Future U.S. first lady Lou Henry (Hoover) was a sophomore and not yet a Kappa when Lucy Evelyn Wight (Allen), Beta Beta Chapter—St. Lawrence, Grand President (1890–1892), went to Stanford for graduate study. The two became close friends. Evelyn Wight became Stanford’s first dean of women, and Lou Henry was initiated in 1896.
Initiations had taken place in the music room of Roble Hall, and the chapter met in members’ rooms. Later a second-floor apartment was rented, and then a house on campus. By the spring of 1899, business arrangements had been made for building on the west side of Lausen Street where the only other structure was the Phi Delta Theta house.
Kappas made daily trips to watch the progress of construction, and the move was made in January 1900. Beta Eta was the first Kappa chapter to build its own house and the first to own a house.
The earthquake of April 18, 1906, brought normal college life to a halt. There was great damage on the Stanford campus. When the chapter returned to school in September, members found that the house had remained untouched during the summer, rather than repaired, since labor and materials were so scarce. A luncheon for freshmen had been scheduled for registration day. Because their dishes were broken and the plaster down, the resourceful Kappas partied on the porch.
Early in September 1918, the house was damaged by fire; and again during summer quarter of 1927 there was a fire and chapter members returned to find the roof gone. By January 1928, aware of the difficulties of separation, the chapter was able to get back together. The local alumna corporation and the Fraternity had made it possible to repair the damages, and the Mother’s Club had raised a considerable fund to help refurbish the house. In 1934, the house association constructed a much-needed wing to provide additional bedrooms, a chapter room and a lounge.
World War II Years
During World War II, several rooms in the chapter house were blacked-out so the girls could study, and there were changes to their living habits. The girls squeezed their own orange juice for breakfast when oranges were available; did their own house cleaning; and skipped an occasional meal “to humor the cook.” And they understood “It is a very little part of war’s reality … . These changes show that life on a college campus need not be as carefree as ‘the good old days’ in order to be one of the most wonderful times in our lives.”
During World War II, social affairs and volunteer work were often combined, taking the form of benefits. The chapter was interested in Belgian War Relief, and the plans of the food administration. The chairman of the Stanford Women’s Red Cross Unit was a Kappa, and there were regular Red Cross hours and much knitting. Three actives left for service in France.
Although Beta Eta had acquired pledges early in 1944, and Initiation was conducted that spring, by the term’s end, Beta Eta too was gone. The administration and the dean of women, a fraternity woman herself, had shown a consistent disapproval of the fraternity system and, for 20 years, sororities and their alumnae fought a losing battle.
--Excerpted from The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1976.
Editor’s Note: Not long after the 1870–1976 history was published, Beta Eta was reinstalled!