Pauline Oberdorfer Minor

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Pauline Oberdorfer Minor
Pauline Oberdorfer Minor.jpg
Bornc. 1885
DiedJanuary 23, 1963
Alma materHoward University
OccupationMezzo-soprano, composer
Known forCo-founder of Delta Sigma Theta

Pauline Oberdorfer Minor (c.1885 – January 23, 1963) was one of the 22 founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.


Pauline Oberdorfer was born around 1885 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her mother worked as a washer woman. Oberdorfer was sent to further her education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was raised by an aunt and uncle.[1] She did not know her parents nor her exact date of birth.

In 1910, she graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls. She was a member of the Union Baptist Church in Philadelphia, sang in the choir and through the influence of Lewis B. Moore, the dean of the Howard Teacher's College, obtained a church scholarship to attend Howard University.[2][3]

At Howard, Oberdorfer along with 22 fellow students, co-founded the Delta Sigma Theta sorority on January 13, 1913.[4] She served as the first treasurer of the Alpha Chapter. She served as president of the Teacher's Club at Howard for one year and her achievements were noted in the NAACP's Crisis magazine edited by W.E.B. DuBois.[5] After graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1914, she pursued a teaching career in Pennsylvania, Alabama and South Carolina.[6]

Oberdorfer Minor along with 18 other Founders of Delta Sigma Theta in 1913
Pauline Richardson Oberdorfer Minor gravestone in Eden Cemetery

Oberdorfer also embarked on a career as a mezzo-soprano recitalist and composer of spirituals. Her book, Soul Echoes featured forty of her compositions including "Get Off the Judgment Seat" and "My Lord Is a Refuge".[6]

She married a Mr. Minor, but they divorced. Oberdorfer Minor died on January 23, 1963.[6] She was working as a housekeeper when she died and was interred in a pauper's grave alongside three other people in Eden cemetery in Collingdale, Pennsylvania.[1]


In 2015, a monument to Oberdorfer Minor was erected in Eden Cemetery by the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[7]

A scholarship at the Philadelphia High School for Girls and a college internship in Charlottesville, Virginia were established in her name.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Holmes, Kristen E. "Search for founder's history ends in tribute". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  2. ^ Parks 2008, p. 36.
  3. ^ "Thirteenth Census of the United States:1910–Population". Supervisor's District 1, Enumeration District 106, Philadelphia city, Seventh Ward, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania: National Archives and Records Administration. 1910: 10B. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: location (link)
  4. ^ "Founders". Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  5. ^ Parks 2008, p. 40.
  6. ^ a b c Parks 2008, p. 85.
  7. ^ Bailey, Samaria. "Delta sorority founder recognized with grave stone". Retrieved 6 July 2019.


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