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Zeta Tau Alpha (ΖΤΑ) is a women's fraternity, founded October 15, 1898 at what used to be State Female Normal School but is now known as Longwood Universitymarker in Farmville, Virginiamarker. The Executive office is located in Indianapolis, Indianamarker. Zeta Tau Alpha is the third largest National Panhellenic Group with over 187,000 initiated members and 240 chapters.


Zeta Tau Alpha was founded by nine young women:Maud Jones Horner (Died August 20, 1920),Della Lewis Hundley (Died July 12, 1951),Alice Bland Coleman (Died June 11, 1956),Mary Jones Batte (Died December 3, 1957),Alice Grey Welsh (Died June 21, 1960),Ethel Coleman Van Name (Died January 24, 1964),Helen M. Crafford (Died September 17, 1964),Frances Yancey Smith (Died April 23, 1977),Ruby Leigh Orgain (Died October 22, 1984)

They shared similar beliefs and backgrounds and as their education went on they did not want their strong friendship to fade since they did not have a formal bond to carry on this comradeship. This is when Maud Jones wrote: “For a whole year before our sorority was established, the need of such an organization was strongly felt. There were six or seven of us who used to frequently meet together and talk over and try to devise some way by which we could unite into a helpful and congenial band. We knew we sadly needed something, but we had no idea how that something was to be found. The beginning of session 1898–1899 our little crowd again at the Normal and just as eager as before, if not more, to find something to satisfy our desires.” This passion that the girls shared to find something more is how the desire to form a Greek-letter group aspired. They wanted to form this group in order to stay close and they hoped to continue this sisterhood after college. Even though they were determined to create this group they waited on selecting an official name. It was when a member of a different group asked the girls what the name of their group was called by signaling a question mark with her fingers. It was then that the girls declared a temporary name of “???.” With the help from Maud Jones and Frances Yancey Smith’s brothers—Plummer Jones, a Kappa Alpha and Phi Beta Kappa member at the William and Mary college, and Giles Mebane Smith, a Phi Theta Psi and Phi Beta Kappa member also at the William and Mary college—the girls worked to form their Greek-letter organization. It took one year of work and thought, but the group finally chose the formal name of Zeta Tau Alpha, Themis—the patron goddess, and the badge as official name and symbols for their group.


It was on October 15, 1898 the girls chose the colors of Zeta Tau Alpha, turquoise blue and steel gray, the fraternity flower, the white violet, and the Fraternity motto, “Seek the Noblest”.

The Founders chose Themis to represent the Fraternity, and the name of Zeta Tau Alpha’s quarterly magazine which features collegiate and alumnae chapter news, photos, and achievements.

The five-pointed Crown is an official symbol of the Fraternity. Many examples of crown artwork can be found within ZTA, and all are acceptable as long as the crown contains exactly five points.

The flower of the Fraternity, chosen by Founder Ruby Leigh Orgain, is the white violet. Its symbolic meaning is explained in the Initiation Service.


Zeta Tau Alpha has 238 chapters and about 150 of these chapters are still active. Of the alumnae chapters there are more than 250 actives and 191,000 initiated members.

Fraternity operations

“ZTA has 150 volunteer National Officers and more than 2,000 additional volunteers working at the local level. These women are helped by a professional staff of 25 at the International Office”.

In the 2004–2006 biennium the ZTA Foundation raised $5 million that went toward scholarships for 150 members, promoted the Zeta Tau Alpha philanthropy, developed leadership opportunities, and educated our members on important women’s issues.


Zeta Tau Alpha provides programs on education and training for its members, including “AlcoholEdu for college members, Stand Up! Stand Out!, LINKS—Member Enrichment Program and a variety of member enrichment and academic achievement programs”.


“The ZTA Fraternity Housing Corporation has assets of more than $21 million and is the leader in Greek housing; ZTA provides safe and competitive housing on all of our college campuses”.


The pins and badges of Zeta Tau Alpha include the Pledge Pin, the Badge, The Coat of Arms, the Order of the Shield pin, the White Violet Pin, Mothers Pin, and Recognition Pins. The Pledge pin is in the shape of a carpenter’s square and is given to those pledging to be a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. Once these pledging members go through initiation they turn in their pledge pin and receive the Zeta Tau Alpha badge that is a small shield, bearing a five-pointed crown with the letter ZTA arranged around it. This badge is only worn by initiated members of Zeta Tau Alpha and may be worn on all occasions except with informal athletic clothes. The Coat of Arms may also only be worn by initiated members and its meaning and significance is revealed only to initiated members. The Order of the Shield pin is given to Zeta Tau Alphas upon their 50th anniversary of membership. The White Violet Pin is given to ZTA alumnae as a 75-year charm. The Mothers Pin is a small turquoise and silver crown pin with a white violet sketched in the center. This pin is given to the mothers of initiated members.

The Creed of Zeta Tau Alpha

"To realize that within our grasp, in Zeta Tau Alpha, lies the opportunity to learn those things which will ever enrich and ennoble our lives; to be true to ourselves and to those within and without our circle; to think in terms of all mankind and our service to the world; to be steadfast, strong, and clean of heart and mind, remembering that since the thought is father to the deed, only that which we would have manifested in our experience should be entertained in thought; to find satisfaction in being, rather than seeming, thus strengthening in us the higher qualities of the spirit; to prepare for service and learn the nobility of serving, thereby earning the right to be served; to seek understanding that we might gain true wisdom; to look for the good in everyone; to see beauty, with its enriching influence; to be humble in success, and without bitterness in defeat; to have the welfare and harmony of the Fraternity at heart, striving ever to make our lives a symphony of high ideals, devotion to the right, the good, and the true, without a discordant note; remembering always that the foundation precept of Zeta Tau Alpha was Love, "the greatest of all things.” -- Shirley Kreasan Strout"

Defining purpose

“The purpose of Zeta Tau Alpha shall be the intensifying of friendship, the fostering of the spirit of love, creating of such sentiments, promoting happiness among its members, to the performing of such deeds, and the molding of such opinions as will be conducive to the building of a purer and nobler womanhood in the world.”


Zeta Tau Alpha's National Philanthropy is Breast Cancer Education and Awareness.

In 1992, Zeta Tau Alpha adopted Susan G. Komen for the Cure as its national philanthropy. In addition to Zeta's focus on the Komen Foundation, the fraternity also supports other educational means dedicated to fighting breast cancer through education, awareness and promoting breast health. Alumnae and collegiate chapters devote their service to Komen Race for the Cure, Courage Night, THINK-PINK!, Yoplait, and other local philanthropies that support the cause.

In the fall of 1999, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha developed a new community service project based on the already successful THINK-PINK! campaign by getting involved with their local NFL team, the Washington Redskins. At the first Redskins home game in October, ZTA collegians and alumnae from the metropolitan Washington D.C. area joined together to distribute 8,000 THINK-PINK! ribbons to fans, stadium employees and even the team owner. In the year 2000, ZTA expanded the program with NFL events in Indianapolis, Miami, New York, and again at Washington D.C. They distributed over 85,000 ribbons. In 2001, the association with the NFL spread tripled to 12 teams with support from the general office of the NFL and the ZTA Foundation. That year, new ribbon-stickers were introduced. The program continued in 2002 in nine NFL cities and with one NBA team. To date, ZTA chapters have worked with more than a dozen teams to participate in the ZTA THINK-PINK! campaign, reaching more than 500,000 football fans across the country. In 2006, ZTA and the NFL began selling black hats with the teams logo in pink with a pink breast cancer ribbon on the side of the hats. For the future, this program promises to continue its growth in spreading awareness.

Notable members



  1. Zeta Tau Alpha. New Member Workbook. Indianapolis, IN. Zeta Tau Alpha International Office, 2007.
  2. Zeta Tau Alpha. New Member Workbook. Indianapolis, IN. Zeta Tau Alpha International Office, 2007.
  3. Zeta Tau Alpha. New Member Workbook. Indianapolis, IN. Zeta Tau Alpha International Office, 2007.
  4. Zeta Tau Alpha. New Member Workbook. Indianapolis, IN. Zeta Tau Alpha International Office, 2007.
  5. Zeta Tau Alpha. New Member Workbook. Indianapolis, IN. Zeta Tau Alpha International Office, 2007.

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