Bertha Pitts Campbell

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Bertha Pitts Campbell
BornJune 30, 1889
DiedApril 2, 1990
Alma materHoward University
Known forCo-founder of Delta Sigma Theta

Bertha Pitts Campbell (June 30, 1889 – April 2, 1990) was a civil rights activist and one of the 22 founding members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Campbell was born on June 30, 1889 in Winfield, Kansas. Her grandmother, Eliza Butler, was an ex-slave.[4]


Campbell was the only black student enrolled in Montrose High School (Montrose, Colorado) when she delivered the valedictorian address to the class of 1908.[5] Upon graduation Campbell was offered a four-year scholarship to Colorado College. Campbell declined the scholarship and chose instead to enroll in Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908 where she received financial support from the Congregational Church. In 1913 she co-founded Delta Sigma Theta and took part in a women's suffrage march in Washington, D.C. In June of that year she graduated cum laude from Howard University with a bachelor of arts degree in education. She then taught for two years in Topeka.[6]


She married Earl Pitts, a railroad worker and later government worker, in 1917.[6] The couple spent some time in Colorado, then moved to Seattle in 1923.[6] Earl died of a heart attack in 1954.[4]

Activism and Later Years[edit]

In Seattle, Campbell was a committed activist and organizer. She was a charter member of the Christian Friends for Racial Equality, an organization which worked to expand housing and other opportunities for the black community; she worked with the Seattle Urban League; and was the first black member of the board of directors of the YWCA of Seattle-King County. She was an active member of the YWCA for 53 years.

At age 92, Campbell led 10,000 members of her Delta Sigma Theta sorority in a march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the participation of the organization in the suffrage march of 1913. Having long survived her husband and son, she spent her final years in a Seattle nursing home and died peacefully at age 100.[7]

In 2018 and 2019, the Northwest African American Museum featured an exhibition on Campbell and Mona Humphries Bailey, the 17th president of Delta Sigma Theta.[8]


  1. ^ "Bertha Pitts Campbell".
  2. ^ "Our 22 Founders". Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.: Eta Gamma Chapter. Archived from the original on 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
  3. ^ Gough, William (April 6, 1990). "Bertha Pitts Campbell, A Founder Of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority". Seattle Times.
  4. ^ a b Cox, Marilyn. ""Expect the Unexpected" — Bertha Pitts Campbell". Montrose Daily Press. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  5. ^ "Bertha Pitts Campbell". Montrose Education Foundation, Inc.
  6. ^ a b c "Bertha Pitts Campbell, Seattle, ca. 1975". Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  7. ^ "Obituaries | Bertha Pitts Campbell, A Founder Of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  8. ^ "Two Seattle Icons: Bertha Pitts Campbell and Mona Humphries Bailey". The Stranger. Retrieved 2020-06-08.


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