our history

On March 17, 1917, five courageous women attending New York University School of Law could not find a membership accepting of all backgrounds. So they formed Delta Phi Epsilon with the purpose of accepting all races and religions–one of the first non-sectarian, social sororities to do so.

Today, Delta Phi Epsilon heads into our Centennial year. Since our founding nearly 100 years ago, we have grown into a thriving organization with over 67,000 initiated members and chapters located across the United States and Canada.

notes from our founders

"To promote good fellowship among the women students among the various colleges in the country...to create a secret society composed of these women based upon their good moral character, regardless of nationality or creed..."

Attending law school when you don’t have basic voting rights is a bold move. Our Founders were bold, courageous students who challenged the status quo and did not let society define their future. They were forward-thinking women who saw beyond what sorority was and knew what it could be.

Today, our Sorority stays true to our founding. Sisters find more than a home or friendship in DPhiE. We find empowerment to live authentic and purposeful lives.

our founders

Dorothy Cohen Schwartzman

Dorothy was the first woman to pass the bar in Fairfield County, Connecticut. After practicing law for seven years, she began working in social welfare and later traveled with her husband while he served in the armed forces. Throughout her life, she remained in contact with her fellow Founders and always portrayed the ideals and principles of the Sorority that she helped to establish.

Ida Bienstock Landau

Ida graduated law school in 1920 and practiced law in New York City. She was a war correspondent during World War II in Europe, and helped relocated Jewish survivors and refugees. When Ida married in 1921, she married a non-citizen and, as a result, she lost her U.S. citizenship and the right to practice law. Ida petitioned Congress about the injustice, attracting national attention to the case. This led to the adoption of the Cable Act, which restored her citizenship, and guaranteed that American women would not forfeit their citizenship by marriage to a foreigner.

Minna Goldsmith Mahler

Minna was always interested in the cause of peace in the world and understanding between people. She was instrumental in setting up the constitution and bylaws that still guide our Sorority. Minna also served as the First International President (1922-1923). After practicing law and raising her family, Minna sat on the Human Rights committee of the United Nations with Eleanor Roosevelt, and became a speaker for the United Nations. She was also active in the World Health Organization and the National Council of Jewish Women.

Eve Effron Robin

Eve believed that education and Delta Phi Epsilon were means for women in the early 20th century to broaden their base and enrich their lives. Her love of education, books, travel and art were constant. She was always learning and encouraging others to learn. Her love of her friends and concern for people were legendary. Her lifelong friendship with her Founding sisters personified everything we say about the joys of lasting friendship within our sisterhood. Her sudden death during her travels in Europe is an inspiration for us to embrace life and explore our world.

Sylvia Steierman Cohn

Sylvia was a role model for women: dedicated to her family, aware of her community’s needs, and conscious of her roles as an educated person. She worked with her husband in real estate, taught law and was active in her community. Reflecting on her experience at the Golden Anniversary Convention in 1967, Sylvia shared: “It is in the evening of life that these occasions and memories which they provided become more precious and remain the reassures which we cherish.”

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explore our history
  • 1917

    Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority founded at New York University School of Law by Minna Goldsmith Mahler, Eva Effron Robin, Ida Bienstock Landau, Sylvia Steierman Cohn, and Dorothy Cohen Schwartzman.

  • 1922

    The first issue of the official sorority magazine “The Delta Phi Epsilon”, published as a quarterly. Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority incorporated in the State of New York.
    Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority goes international with the chartering of the Epsilon Chapter at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec)

  • 1932

    The “Delta Phi Epsilon Quarterly” was changed to the “Triangle”.

  • 1933

    International Convention held at the World's Fair, Chicago, Illinois.

  • 1942

    World War II: Each sorority and alumna resolved to devote a minimum of three hours per week to a war endeavor.

  • 1951

    DPhiE was admitted to full membership into NPC at the 32nd Biennial National Panhellenic Conference. Etta T. Sherman (Zeta) NPC Representative

  • 1952

    Upon becoming a member of NPC, Delta Phi Epsilon makes changes to differentiate themselves from other organizations. Delta Phi Epsilon’s official magazine the TRIANGLE is renamed the TRIAD. The official sorority badge added the scroll to the bottom with the words “esse quam videri”. The official flower is changed from the pansy to the Lovely Purple Iris.

  • 1956

    Edward R. Murrow is named DPhiE Man of the Year. Here he accepts his award from Rita Rossner, International President, and Etta Taube Sherman (Zeta, University of Toronto), NPC Delegate

  • 1957

    At Delta Phi Epsilon’s December 1957 Convention, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is named an official philanthropy after Phyllis Kossoff (Delta) petitioned to her sisters on behalf of her daughter Stephanie who was diagnosed.

  • 1971

    Delta Phi Epsilon holds its first joint convention with Tau Epsilon Phi fratenity, a tradition that continues until 1983.

  • 1978

    International Headquarters moves to Stamford, Connecticut.

  • 1981

    The Unicorn is named Delta Phi Epsilon's mascot.

  • 1993

    International Headquarters moves to St. Louis, Missouri.
    DPhiE assumes lead role in NPC as Harriett Block Macht (Delta Delta, Indiana University) becomes National Panhellenic Conference Chairwoman at NPC's 100th Anniversary.

  • 1996

    DPhiE goes online.

  • 1998

    TEAM EXCELLENCE is introduced.

  • 2007

    International Headquarters moves to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • 2008

    International Headquarters introduces the move from Leadership Consultants to Membership Managers.
    DPhiE goes under a rebranding and introduces a new logo and new website.

  • 2010

    International Headquarters purchases a permanent residence in historic Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    DPhiE introduces the new Standards of Excellence and Chapter Assessment Program.

  • 2011

    DPhiE unveils new website 3.0.

  • 2015

    The 100th active collegiate chapter is installed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • 2016

    Our sorority hits a record-breaking milestone of 9,000 undergraduate members. The Educational Foundation unveils a new logo and celebrates its Golden Anniversary.