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SEATED FRONT ROW: Gladys Cannon Nunery • Julia Asbury Barnes • Gladys Merritt Ross (Mother Founder) • Dr. Florence Steele Hunt

STANDING BACK ROW: Ella Wells Butler • Marguerite Gross • Mildred Morris • (not pictured) Edna McConnell

Our  History and Our Founders


The National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. (NSPDK) is a nonprofit, educational sorority founded by eight educators desiring to establish a sisterhood among teachers and promote the highest ideals of the teaching profession. NSPDK was the idea of Gladys Merritt Ross, who, on Good Friday, March 30, 1923, convened a group of young teach­ers from Jersey City Normal School in Jersey City, New Jersey to discuss the idea of forming a sorority.


Eight members of those present concurred, and Newark attorney, J. Mercer Burrell, incorporated the new organization on May 23, 1923 - which is now recognized as the official Founders Day.  Because the original members were all minors, their parents or guardians, Dr. G.E. Cannon, Mr. J.L. Merritt, Mrs. Lottie Cooper and Mrs. Estelle Morris became trustees.


The eight founders are Gladys Merritt Ross (Mother Founder), Julia Asbury Barnes, Ella Wells Butler, Marguerite Gross, Florence Steele Hunt, Edna McConnell, Gladys Cannon Nunery and Mildred Morris Williams.

Past Supreme Basilei 

*Omega Chapter

Past Supreme Basilei table1_UPDATED2021_edited.jpg

National Honorary Members


National Honorary membership is conferred upon an individual who has made a contribution of significance in education or related fields and/or has shown evidence of successful civic or professional activity which shall be known internationally, nationally, or regionally.

  1. Dr. Merze Tate*, Howard University, Washington, DC

  2. Dr. Mary Bethune McLeod*, Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, FL

  3. The Honorable Dr. Shirley Chisholm*, U.S. Congresswoman, Brooklyn, NY

  4. Mary Williams*, Charleston, WV

  5. The Honorable Emma Henderson*, Detroit, MI

  6. Ella P. Stewart*, the nation’s first Black female pharmacist when she earned her degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1916, Toledo, OH

  7. Frances Lawrence Antonin*, the third African American woman appointed to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Jersey City, NJ

  8. Madame Zelma George*, Delegate to United Nations General Assembly, Cleveland, OH

  9. Charlemae Hill Rollins*, was a pioneering librarian, author and storyteller in the area of African-American literature, Chicago, IL

  10. Anna Arnold Hedgeman*, an African-American civil rights leader, politician, educator, and writer, the first African-American woman to hold a cabinet post in New York

  11. Dr. Mary Olivia Brooks Ross*, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc

  12. Dr. Annie E. Koontz*

  13. First Lady Barbara Bush* - Inducted 1991 at 68th Anniversary Conclave, Nashville, TN

  14. Irma P. Hall, Actress (Soul Food “Big Mama”), Dallas, TX – Inducted July 2007, Houston, TX

  15. Constance D. Harper*, Journalist, Cleveland Call & Post Newspaper, Shaker Hts., OH – Inducted July 2011, New Orleans, LA

  16. Dr. Mary Frances Early, the first African-American to earn a degree from the University of Georgia -- UGA College of Education was officially named in her honor; Education and Civil Rights Activist - Inducted July 19, 2021 during 98th NSPDK Virtual Anniversary Conclave

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