Madree Penn White, Class of 1909

Posted on October 5th, 20193:30 pm


Madree Penn White, Class of 1909

White blazed a trail for thousands of women by helping found the nation’s largest predominantly black sorority. White grew up in Omaha and then graduated with honors from Central. At Howard University in Washington, DC she was an accomplished linguist and a leader in the campus NAACP. She also served as the first female staffer of the school’s newspaper. In 1913, she was credited with conceiving the idea for a sorority that would focus on service and advancement of women instead of social activities. She chaired the committee that drafted the constitution for Delta Sigma Theta, selected its signature Greek letters and became its second president. As the organization’s first activity, it became active in the women’s suffrage movement in Washington. More than 1,000 chapters were eventually created around the world. During her career she taught and worked as a journalist in both St. Louis and Cleveland, helping found Delta chapters in both cities. She was honored by the Cleveland League of Women Voters before her death in 1967 at age 75.