Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded January 16, 1920 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. by five co-eds: Arizona Cleaver (Stemons), Myrtle Tyler (Faithful), Viola Tyler (Goings), Fannie Pettie (Watts), and Pearl A. Neal. These women dared to depart from the traditional coalitions for Black women and sought to establish a new organization predicated on the ideals of Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love and Finer Womanhood. For more than eighty years, the trail blazed by these illustrious women has been traversed by thousands of women dedicated to the objectives and ideals established by the Five Pearls of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Since its inception, the Sorority has expanded to encompass more than 500 graduate and collegiate chapters around the world, including locations in the Caribbean Islands, West Africa, and Germany. In addition to its international presence, the Sorority has established several firsts for historically Black Greek Lettered Organizations (BGLOs). Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was the first to charter a chapter in Africa; to centralize its operations in a national headquarters; to form adult and youth auxiliary groups--the Amicae, Archonettes, Amicettes, and Pearlettes; and to be constitutionally bound to a brother fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Zeta Phi Beta's national and local programs include endowment of its National Educational Foundation, involvement with the March Of Dimes and Stork's Nest, and Z-HOPE. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. chapters and auxiliary groups have given many hours of voluntary service to educate the public, assist youth, provide scholarships, support organized charities and promote legislation for social and civic change.
Although there were five Founders of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., there were many women who were initially interested but did not become a part of the founding group. Many feared the high academic standards they would need to meet to become a part of this new organization, others could not afford the initiation fee that appears nominal by today's standards. However, soon after the light of Zeta shone clearly through our Five Pearls, there were twenty-five women eager to join the Zeta movement. Of these twenty-five, only four - Gladys Warrington, Harriet Dorsey, Pauline Philips and Nellie Singfield - went on to be initiated as a part of the second pledge class. Zeta Phi Beta took top scholastic honors on the Howard University campus when a member of this second pledge class, Pauline Phillips, graduated summa cum laude, thus setting a precedent of academic excellence still expected of Zeta members to this day.
For more information on our Sorority's history, visit our National website: zphib1920.org