History of the NPHC at the University of Iowa

Delta Sigma Theta Members in Des Moines, Iowa, c. 1924

African American Greek-letter organizations have a long history. The first black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, was founded in 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. At the University of Iowa, the first of the historic African American organization was Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. established locally in 1914. Kappa Alpha Psi remained the only African American fraternal organization at Iowa until 1919. In that year, eight women formed a local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Only two more black fraternity and sorority chapters were formed at the University of Iowa before 1950: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (1922) and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. These organizations provided a forum in which African American students engaged in the current discourse and built leadership skills that would serve them upon graduation. In the early years, both Kappa Alpha Psi and Alpha Phi Alpha operated houses. In 1933, ten students lived in the Kappa House and fifteen lived in the Alpha House. Members of Delta Sigma Theta resided in the Federation Home at 942 Iowa Avenue. The other organizations from Iowa's campus were founded as follows: Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (1975); Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (1979); Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (1980); and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (1983). 

Above: Charter members of the Alpha Theta Chapter in 1922

Above: Kappa Alpha Psi, Gamma Chapter, University of Iowa, c. 1915