Phi Mu

"A History of Women at Dickinson"

March 16, 1979

The pivotal events of the Vietnam War, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. as well as that of Robert Kennedy, was the foreground to the world events that welcomed the lives of Dickinson students during the decade of the 1960's. Having been an era of social, sexual and civil revolution, did not hinder the development and the rise of women as leaders on this campus. On the contrary the grand majority of women surveyed by Martha C.

Phi Mu in 1958


In 1957 Phi Mu maintained an active schedule of philanthropic and social activities.  Members visited the United Brethren Children's Home in Carlisle every week, and often held parties or took the children on outings.  They also continued to maintain their toy cart at the Carlisle Hospital.  Social and sisterhood activities included cocktail parties with fraternities,  traditional formals and teas, and two retreats to Camp Shand.

Phi Mu in 1957


The 1957 Microcosm noted that the women of Phi Mu "strive for the founder's ideals of high scholarship, close sisterhood and noble womanhood." The sisters aimed to follow these goals by volunteering at the Carlisle Hospital and Children's Home and through hosting social events such as pledge and senior formals and "parties in the rooms." The officers of Phi Mu were Pat Anderson, President; Jo Ann Rothermel, Vice President; Elizabeth Elderdice, Secretary; and Joyce Roberts, Treasurer.

Phi Mu in 1956


In 1956, the officers of Phi Mu were Mary Ann Walter, President; Jan Westcott, Vice-President; Elizabeth Baird, Secretary; and Joan Howell, Treasurer. Phi Mu supported its philanthropies at the Children's Home in Carlisle and the Carlisle Hospital with a variety of activities including selling stationary, cookies, and cowbells at football games. They also hosted Halloween and Christmas parties at the Children's Home. Their social calendar included informal pizza or spaghetti dinners, as well as the pledge and spring formals.

Phi Mu in 1955


In 1955, the Microcosm documented a number of activities of the women of Phi Mu.  The organization held three rummage sales and two carwashes to benefit their Toy Cart at the Carlisle Hospital and the Carlisle Children's Home.  Phi Mu also held a Mary Sachs fashion show to benefit the Philadelphia Arthritic Society.  The officers of the Beta Delta chapter in 1955 were Louise E. Howard, president; Edith F. Cooke, vice-president; Edith H. Bean, secretary; and Ruth M. Costenbader, treasurer. 

Undergrad Notes

November 1924
  • The Women's Glee Club was in action under the leadership of William Bretz (of Harrisburg), who in the year of 1924 completed his fourth year as the clubs' director.
  • The Phi Mu Sorority won the sorority "scholarship loving cup of the Interfraternity Council" for the third consecutive year.

For more information about the Interfraternity Council visit:

Frances Weighs in on Sororities in the 1920s

April 21, 1994

Frances Vuilleumier (Class of 1924) reports in an interview that Dickinson had four sororities: Pi Phi, Chi Omega, Phi Mu, and Zeta Tua Alpha. She characterizes Pi Phi as the oldest and strongest sorority as well as the only sorority that "survived." According to Vuilleumier, "it was considered quite a good thing to be a Pi [Phi]," and daughters of faculty members often joined Pi Phi. Chi Omega, explains Vuilleumier, was not as old as Pi Phi. Vuilleumier claims that its members were "very social." Vuilleumier's sorority, Phi Mu, was a newer sorority and was always academic.

Discrimination in the 1920s

April 21, 1994

Frances Vuilleumier (Class of 1924) explains in an interview that her sorority, Phi Mu, did not extend membership to black or Jewish students, adding that there "was probably some[one] else we didn't allow." Calling Phi Mu exclusive, she explains that these practices were normal during that period. She points to the 1960s as the decade in which "they didn't stand for that anymore," although the national chapter of some sororities, according to Vuilleumer, still prevented the pledging of minority women.

Sororities and Independent Women

August 1962

According to "Inside Information" a guidebook for women published by the Dean of Women's office, there were four national sororities on campus, Phi Mu, Pi Beta Phi, Chi Omega, and Zeta Tau Alpha as well as a group known as the Independent Women. The Independent Women was a social group of women that chose not to participate in the greek system.

Phi Mu in 1954


In 1954 the Beta Delta Chapter of Phi Mu continued to provide scholastic and philanthropic opportunities for members. They continued to manage the toy cart at the Carlisle Hospital and also paid weekly visits to one of the Children's Homes. Their education programs included book reviews, discussions on vocations, summer job opportunities, and travel experiences. The officers of Phi Mu in 1954 were Alice Hamer Shaw, president; Barbara L. Brennfleck, vice president; Althea M. Trochelman, secretary; and Henrietta R. Mohler, treasurer.