History of the Pi Phi Badge

This post is courtesy of Historian Fran Becque as part of her continuing series on Pi Phi heritage.

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When our 12 founders created our Fraternity, they were familiar with the men’s fraternities then at Monmouth College — Beta Theta Pi and Delta Tau Delta. Beta Theta Pi’s badge is an eight-sided shield, the sides of which curve inward.  Delta Tau Delta’s badge is a square shield with four concave sides.

Our founders were pioneers. Not only did they create a women’s organization based on the men’s fraternity model, but they also used a symbol, the arrow, as our Fraternity’s badge.

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the arrow as a “a thin wooden shaft with a feathered tail.”  It is fitted “to the string by a notch in the end of the shaft and is drawn back until sufficient tension is produced in the bow so that when released it will propel the arrow.” The simple and graceful arrow takes flight and soars to a goal.

The official badge was a topic of discussion for a week after the founding of I.C. Sorosis in the southwest second-floor bedroom of Major Jacob Holt’s home in the room he rented to Ada Bruen and Libbie Brook. Ada later said that the decision took that long because the founders did not want to come to a “hasty conclusion regarding anything so important.” They discussed the issue with Wilson Lusk, a Monmouth jeweler.

On May 5, 1867, the founders made the decision to choose the gold arrow as their badge. The letters  “I C’ were on the wings in black enamel.

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On the 14th of May, the women wore their arrows to chapel. As no standard placement of the badge had been agreed to, the women wore the badges in their hair. It would not be until 1906 that the badge was required to be worn on the left side over the heart. The early badges were a little longer than the present one-inch size.

After the name change of our organization from I.C. Sorosis to our Greek motto, Pi Beta Phi, in 1888, the badge took on the Greek letters where the “I C” had been. The enameling was white and, for the first time, jeweling of the badge was permitted. The first jeweled Pi Beta Phi badge was presented to Grand President Rainie Adamson Small, Illinois Beta, who presided over the momentous convention. Her badge contained diamonds and pearls.

Pi Phis have followed a tradition of purchasing badges with jewels on the shaft or in the point. Sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines, garnets, rubies and pink sapphires are among the jewels available on the Pi Beta Phi badge.

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