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FoundedDecember 10, 1924; 94 years ago (1924-12-10)
University of California, Los Angeles
MottoFamous for Friendliness
Colors     Blue &      Gold
FlowerYellow Tea Rose
PublicationThe Thetan (current, Theta Chapter only),
The Phraterean (former, published by Phrateres International)
Chapters1 active collegiate
(26 inactive collegiate)
NicknamesPhis, Phratereans (historically)
HeadquartersUniversity of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

Phrateres (/frɑːˈtɛərz/ frah-TAIR-eez) is a philanthropic-social organization for female college students.


Phrateres was founded at UCLA in 1924 by the dean of women, Helen Matthewson Laughlin.[1] The intention was to bring "independent" women students (i.e. those not in dormitories or sororities) into a collective group for the purposes of socialization and philanthropy. However, the new group proved popular and soon membership was extended to any female student who wished to join. Members now included those who lived in dorms, commuted to campus, as well as members of sororities. Word spread to other colleges, especially those on the West Coast. The Beta Chapter[2] was installed at the University of Washington in 1929. The 1930s saw the installation of ten more chapters: Gamma[3] & Delta[4] in 1930, Epsilon[5] in 1931, Zeta[6] in 1932, Eta[7] in 1933, Theta[8] & Iota[9] in 1935, Kappa[10] in 1936, Lambda in 1937, and Nu in 1939. Phrateres now had chapters in seven states and one province in Canada (Theta at the University of British Columbia would remain the only Canadian chapter from 1935 to 1961). The 1940s brought four more chapters: Xi[11] & Omicron[12] in 1941, Rho[13] in 1942, and Sigma in 1945, for a total of sixteen active collegiate chapters (the most ever at one time). However, from 1945 until the late 1950s, three of those chapters closed: Delta, Eta, and Omicron. Their chapter names were later reused for newly installed chapters at different schools in 1950 (Delta), 1958 (Eta[14]), and 1964 (Omicron). Along with those, the final four chapters were installed in the 1960s, including three more in Canada: Omega[15] in 1961, Tau[16] in 1966, Phi in the mid to late 1960s, and Psi in 1967.

From the 1930s to the 1990s, conventions were held every one to two years, with members of the host chapter housing delegates from other chapters. Chapters could win awards, such as "Most Active Chapter" and "Best Scrapbook."

The earliest known date of a chapter closing was the first Omicron in 1945[17] Only one other chapter closing is known with certainty: Lambda in 2000.[18] Beta closed sometime in the 1970s[19] and the second Eta chapter is known to have closed in the 1990s[20] (the first Eta Chapter was closed by 1958, but evidence of activity has only been found up to 1949[21]). Conflicting evidence either has Zeta closing in 1943[22] or the 1980s.[23] Gamma also has two possible years: 1961[24] or 1968.[25] Based on found documentation, the following chapters were active as late as the year given: Xi[26] in 1945, Iota[27] in 1949, Epsilon[28] in 1951, Kappa[29] in 1956, Sigma[30] in 1968, Omega[31] also in 1968, Psi[32] in 1969, Tau[33] in 1970, Alpha[34] in 1974, and Rho[35] in 1985. Unfortunately, for five chapters, the closing year is unknown due to an almost total lack of documentation. The first Delta chapter was closed by 1950, when the second one was installed. As for the second Delta, Nu, the second Omicron, and Phi, the only chapter records are those of installations (but it is known that none of them were active as of 1990).[36]

In the 1990s, only three active collegiate chapters remained: Theta, Lambda, and the second Eta (the former in Canada; the latter two in Arizona, both of which were co-ed by this time[37]). Eta closed during that decade and Lambda closed in 2000. Now, the only active collegiate chapter was Theta at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The Phrateres International Board saw little purpose to its own existence (being that only one active chapter remained) and disbanded in 2001. As of 2015, the Theta Chapter still exists at UBC in the form of a self-governing AMS (Alma Mater Society, UBC's student society) club.

2009–10: anniversary year[edit]

The 2009–10 school year marked two important milestones for the Phrateres organization: the 85th anniversary of the founding of Phrateres at UCLA and the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Theta Chapter at UBC. The Theta Chapter organized a celebration that was held in 2010, which featured a wide range of Phrateres sisters whose ages ranged from over 70 years, to 19. This event marked how important this organization was, and continues to be in the development of the individual, as well as fostering lifelong friendships, sisterhood, and memories.

History project[edit]

The Theta Chapter is currently compiling a more thorough history of Phrateres. The chapter is seeking out alumnae members of any chapter who can provide information, including, but not limited to, oral history or memories, yearbooks, manuals, photos, chapter newsletters, student newspaper articles, anything from or about Phrateres International, etc. The basic goal is to compile a complete listing of all the chapters that ever existed, including founding and closing dates, and histories of each individual chapter.

As is apparent above, current historical knowledge is limited. Sources thus far have been Theta Chapter yearbooks and newsletters in the UBC archives, information available on the internet through online search engines, and Theta Chapter alumnae.

Phrateres International[edit]

The International consisted of the board of trustees: Phrateres alumnae living in the Greater Los Angeles area. It collected fees from each chapter, as well as published a regular newsletter, The Phraterean, with notices from each chapter. The Lura Heeter Award was a scholarship given to one collegiate member each year (began as a memorial award within the Zeta Chapter in 1985).

When the board disbanded in 2001, it gave its remaining funds to the Theta Chapter. Monies from the Lura Heeter Award were given to the Zeta Alumnae Chapter.

The board was led by a Grand President:

  • Helen Matthewson Laughlin, 1924–1957
  • Marjorie Chilstrom,[38] 1957–1972, officially retired in 1972 but remained grand president until Phrateres International disbanded when the Lambda (University of Arizona) chapter closed
  • Cynthia Johnson, co-chairman of board of trustees with Lynne Love, 1973–1976
  • Lynne Love, chairman of board of trustees, 1976-? Remained as a board of trustees member until the 1990s
  • Laurie Smith, executive director, -1988
  • Betsy Weisman, executive director, 1988–2001

Collegiate chapters[edit]

At present, records for 26 collegiate chapters have been found. Twenty-three were in the United States, with Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, Utah, and Ohio each having one chapter; Arizona having three, Illinois, and Washington each having two; and the remaining nine all in California (three of which were in Los Angeles alone). The remaining four were in Canada, with one in Ontario and three in British Columbia, including Theta, the sole remaining active chapter.


Chapters were named in the order of the Greek alphabet. No records have been found for Mu, Pi, Upsilon, or Chi chapters, although the fact that three other letters were used twice supports their possible existence.

The two Arizona chapters (Lambda at University of Arizona and Eta at Arizona State University) referred to themselves, respectively, as "Phi Lambda Phrateres" and "Phi Eta Phrateres." The Theta chapter at UBC has records of being called "Phi Theta" but this practice has been discontinued.

Alumnae chapters[edit]

The collegiate Theta Chapter hosts an annual "Alumnae Tea" each February (celebrating date of installation at UBC). Theta alumnae, some of whom are from the established Theta Alumnae Chapter, are always present. The collegiate Theta Chapter is interested in hearing from any other Alumnae or Alumnae Chapters in existence.

Despite the short life of the collegiate Zeta Chapter at Carroll College, a strong Alumnae Chapter grew and is still in existence.

Theta Chapter[edit]

70+ years[edit]

In 2006, Theta celebrated 70 years of Phrateres at UBC with a gala celebration. Contacting alumnae proved difficult, unfortunately. Many members had married and taken new names. As well, records often only included the street address of the woman while she had been a student, providing no current mailing address or email address. Collegiate and alumnae members of the Theta Chapter were joined by spouses, parents, and a Rho Chapter alumnae, who had never been to Canada before.


The only remaining active chapter was often the largest during the heyday of Phrateres. In the mid-1930s, Clare Brown[39] (President of the Women's Undergraduate Society) petitioned Mary Bollert (1880s?-1945)[40][41] (Dean of Women)[42] to bring Phrateres to UBC. The Theta Chapter was installed on February 1, 1935. It was the eighth chapter installed, but the first Canadian chapter.[43]

From installation until the 1970s, membership was large enough to support as many as 12 Sub-Chapters. Each Sub-Chapter had its own president and council, with all Sub-Chapters falling under the control of an executive council comprising the Rho Sub-Chapter. Each Sub-Chapter also had a faculty advisor and recruited members separately. This promoted friendly competition between the Sub-Chapters.

In those earlier decades, students at UBC had to wait until their sophomore year to join fraternities and sororities. Freshman female students were required to join Phrateres if they wanted to join a sorority later. After that first year, members either decided to stay solely in Phrateres, leave Phrateres for a sorority, or maintain membership in both. When the policy changed, and freshmen were allowed to rush, the Theta Chapter experienced a dramatic decline in membership (since the 1980s, membership has not exceeded 100). From that point onwards, Phrateres at UBC was no longer seen as an organization to unify all women students, as had been the vision of Dean Laughlin at UCLA in 1924. Sub-chapters eventually ceased and the club presently operates as one unified chapter.

4 S's[edit]

Phrateres' activities are based on the 4S's: Sisterhood, Sports, Social, and Service. At Theta Chapter, sisterhood is encouraged by matching pledges with active members in the "Big/Little Sister Program", through nights out and nights in, and through study table sessions. Members often participate in UBC sports events and support the UBC Thunderbirds. Social activities include fraternity exchanges and the annual formals and semi-formals.


The Theta Chapter organizes and participates in various philanthropic events throughout the year. Having no official charity, the club helps a variety of organizations.

Annual events include:


All women are encouraged and welcomed to join the organization. Pledgeship involves a year where members get to participate in the organization's events and get to know what the girls and organization are about. Pledges often form strong bonds with their pledge classes and enjoy this period of flexible fun. Pledges will also have the opportunity to take on leadership roles by running to become their Pledge President, and organizing a pledge project together.

Notable alumni[edit]

Irma Schoennauer Cole (1920-2003) (Beta), one of the United States' premier swimmers in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Joy Coghill (1926–Present) (Theta), Actress, director, artistic director, theatre producer, teacher, playwright, PAL founder.[46]

Beth McCann (1917-1986) (Theta), UBC Nursing professor. President of the Theta Alumni chapter in the late 1940s-1950s.[47] [48]

Betty Masumi Inouye (1935-2014) (Theta), Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal award winner. Her love of contributing to the community began as a member of Phrateres in the 1950s.

Mary Alice Kellogg (Phi Lambda), award-winning journalist

Phoebe Noble (1915-2010) (Founder, Omega chapter), former professor and Dean of Women at the University of Victoria. Organized and chartered the Omega chapter at the University of Victoria in 1961.[49]


  1. ^ Dean of Women at UCLA from 1919 to 1946. UCLA obituary, including mention of Phrateres.
  2. ^ "Happy 70th Birthday, 'Brown Bag Women'", Columns, Seattle: University of Washington Alumni Association, June 1999
  3. ^ Oregon State University Archives Archived 2009-05-04 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Penrose, Stephen B. L. (2007), Whitman - An Unfinished Story, Walla Walla, Washington: Whitman Publishing Co., ISBN 978-1-4067-7602-7
  5. ^ Mirage Yearbook, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1947, p. 142, retrieved 2008-12-19, The Epsilon chapter was installed on the UNM campus in 1931.
  6. ^ Krueger, Margaret (2001-10-04), "Phrat House: Non-Sorority House Keeps Friendships Going", The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
  7. ^ Silver Spruce Yearbook, Fort Collins: Colorado A&M College, 1940, p. 176, retrieved 2008-12-19, The Eta chapter was established on the Colorado State campus in 1932.
  8. ^ "New Social Club Sponsored by W.U.S.: International Organization, Phrateres to be Installed" (PDF), The Ubyssey, 17 (17), p. 1, 1934-11-23
  9. ^ The Blue and Gold Yearbook, Berkeley: University of California at Berkeley, 1938, p. 490, retrieved 2008-12-19, Iota Chapter founded 1935.
  10. ^ Campus Yearbook, Fresno: Fresno State College, 1956, p. 213, retrieved 2008-12-19, The local group [Kappa Chapter] was established in 1936.
  11. ^ "This Week In IWU History" (PDF), The Argus, 105 (15), p. 1, 1999-01-29: "1941 ~ Rho Phi Sigma, a local women's social organization, becomes affiliated with the Xi chapter of Phrateres"
  12. ^ Augustana College Archives
  13. ^ El Rodeo Yearbook, Los Angeles: University of Southern California, 1985, p. 74, retrieved 2008-12-19, The Rho Chapter...founded at USC in 1942.
  14. ^ Sahuaro Yearbook, Phoenix: Arizona State University, 1960, p. 140, retrieved 2008-12-19, The Off-Campus Women of Arizona State received their charter as Eta Chapter of Phrateres on March 9, 1958.
  15. ^ "Phrateres Installation" (PDF), The Martlet, 1 (3), p. 4, 1961-10-17: "...Saturday, October 21, Omega Chapter of Phrateres will be installed in a formal candlelit ceremony. Eleven executive members of the Theta Chapter at U.B.C. will help..."
  16. ^ Simon Fraser University Archives
  17. ^ Augustana College Archives
  18. ^ "International Service Club Disbands Due to Lack of Leadership", The Arizona Daily Wildcat, 2000-09-27, archived from the original on 2006-09-17
  19. ^ UW Alumni Magazine article, June 1999
  20. ^ Theta Chapter literature, early 2000s
  21. ^ Silver Spruce Yearbook, Fort Collins: Colorado A&M, 1949, p. 321, retrieved 2008-12-19: lists members Dorothy J. Davis and Haruko Hirama.
  22. ^ Madison Times article, 2001
  23. ^ Theta Chapter newsletter, 1985
  24. ^ Oregon State U. Archives
  25. ^ Phrateres International Handbook, 1970s
  26. ^ "Phrateres Wins Scholarship Lead" (PDF), The Argus, 51 (28), p. 1, 1945-05-09
  27. ^ The Blue and Gold Yearbook, Berkeley: UC Berkeley, 1949, p. 65, retrieved 2008-12-19: lists member Elaine A. Grant.
  28. ^ Mirage Yearbook (PDF), Albuquerque: UNM, 1951, p. 5, retrieved 2008-12-19: lists member Jane Padilla.
  29. ^ Campus Yearbook, Fresno: Fresno State College, 1956, p. 213, retrieved 2008-12-19: lists Elaine A. Grant as a member: Kappa Chapter profile
  30. ^ Photo from Teacher Corps Interns history at UTEP, 1968-1972.
  31. ^ "Broads, flicks - Clubs Day lures" (PDF), The Martlet, 8 (5), p. 3, 1968-10-01: short piece on upcoming Clubs Day at UVic, "Phrateres Club is sponsoring a vivid booth..."
  32. ^ UC Irvine Archives: Psi Chapter newsletter, Fritter's Funnies, (1969)
  33. ^ SFU Archives
  34. ^ Bruin Life Yearbook, Los Angeles: UCLA, 1974, p. 71, retrieved 2008-12-19: Alpha Chapter profile
  35. ^ El Rodeo Yearbook, USC, 1985
  36. ^ Theta Chapter newsletters, early 1990s
  37. ^ "Service honorary looking for the Best Best Friends", The Arizona Daily Wildcat, 1997-04-21
  38. ^ As of 2008 California State University, Northridge offers a scholarship offered in the name of Irving & Marjorie Chilstrom.
  39. ^ Often inaccurately referred to as "Clare Brown Harris" (her married name). A second marriage, to A. C. Buckland, occurred in 1963 and is listed in "Marriages" (PDF), Chronicle, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Alumni Association: 40, Autumn 1963.
  40. ^ Mary Louise Bollert fonds, UBC Archives
  41. ^ Mary Bollert Hall at UBC is named for her
  42. ^ U.B.C. Student Services - Access & Diversity - Women
  43. ^ "New Organization Has Good Start" (PDF), The Ubyssey, 17 (22), p. 1, 1935-01-11
  44. ^ "Phrateres Present Boxer Bash" (PDF), The Point, 2001-10-24
  45. ^ Express Yourself Fashion Shows and Bar Party, 2013-02-26
  46. ^ Chronology 1926-1959
  47. ^ Amazing Alumni Stories
  48. ^ Lee, Winifred (October 11, 1950). "Club Profiles". Unknown. Vancouver.
  49. ^ "In Memoriam" (PDF), TREK Magazine, 29, Spring–Summer 2011

External links[edit]