In 1936 in the midst of the Federal government’s “New Deal” implementation eleven women “filled with faith and hope” organized and applied for a charter from the Grand Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. On June 20, 1936 a charter was issued for Alpha Zeta Sigma Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Some of the younger chapter members requested a name change and in November 1936, the chapter’s name was changed to Alpha Eta Sigma. Due to a change in Delta’s nomenclature Alpha Eta Sigma became the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
The young women who were attending Dillard and Xavier Universities were inspired by the public service initiatives of the members of the newly chartered Alpha Eta Sigma. This inspiration led them to apply for permission to charter the Beta Gamma Chapter at Dillard University in 1937. The Gamma Alpha Chapter at Xavier University was chartered in 1941. Other collegiate chapters chartered in the greater New Orleans area are Epsilon Chi at Southern University-1966, Mu Tau at the University of New Orleans-1976, Nu Mu City Wide at Tulane and Loyola University-1977. New Orleans Suburban Chapter, now retired, was chartered in 1976. On June 23, 1993, the Delta Sigma Theta New Orleans Alumnae Foundation, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. During the 1994-95 sorority year, each active Soror became a member of the Foundation. In 2002 the Foundation purchased a building at 4370 Louisa Drive. making Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. the first sorority in New Orleans to own property.
The members of the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter have been in the forefront of social change in the greater New Orleans Community. The membership has grown from its humble and forceful eleven members to over 350 informed and socially responsible members. The impact of the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter on the Greater New Orleans community is enhanced by the creative, collaborative and award winning programs which are the implementation of the Five Point Programmatic Thrust of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
New Orleans Alumnae chapter acknowledges the importance of community based organizations and render support through networking and partnering with others. Sorors hold membership and leadership in the National Council of Negro Women, the Amistad Research Center, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the NAACP, the Urban League, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, National Pan Hellenic Council, Coalition of 100 Black Women, LINKS, Inc. and many more.
New Orleans has proven to be a popular site for National Conventions and Regional Conferences. In conjunction with the collegiate chapters, Regional Conferences have been hosted in 1947, 1968 and 1991. National Conventions have been hosted in 1979 and 1998. In 1979 three of our beloved Founders were present at the National Convention. It was also the first time that an Ecumenical service was held at a National Convention. New Orleans Alumnae is excited to have been chosen to host the 50th National Convention in 2010!
From the able leadership of the chapter, sorors have been elected or appointed to state, regional and national positions in the sorority. We are proud to be the home of the Sorority’s First 2nd National Vice President, Mattie Braden. We are also proud to be the home of two past Southwest Regional Directors, Gloria Bryant Banks and Cynthia Butler McIntyre. We humbly acknowledge our joy and jubilation to be the home of the first National President in the Southwest Region, Cynthia Butler McIntyre, 24th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Carolyn E. Lewis, the current National Treasurer is another jewel in New Orleans Alumnae’s crown.
During its 73 year history, the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter has experienced growth, prosperity and the devastation of Hurricane Katina. It has risen above obstacles and challenges to continue the development of its illustrious history of public service and answer the call of the African American community. The legacy of the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter will be “Community Service from the Heart.”