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A Women's Fraternity Founder Influences TKE

A Women's Fraternity Founder Influences TKE

Alpha CrestInterfraternalism has been around since Greek Life began a few hundred years ago. Regardless of our differences, the success of others drives our ability to be even better. It's truly remarkable that a founder of a women's fraternity directly influence the course of Tau Kappa Epsilon's history. The official Coat-of-Arms has been changed four times, but the choice made in 1926 designed by a founder of Alpha Gamma Delta is still in use today.

In 1902, the Alpha Crest was approved. One of the primary reasons the Knights of Classic Lore decided to create this is because Phi Delta Theta criticized the local group for not taking a Greek letter name. As was the tradition during that time, once the name Tau Kappa Epsilon was established the founders needed a crest to show legitimacy and become identifiable on campus. As we know, the petition to become a chapter of Phi Delta Theta failed and TKE officially began the path to become a National Fraternity.

Minchin CrestTen years later, Frater Sidney Minchin (Gamma, Univ. of Illinois) designed the second rendering.  It was approved in 1912 during the Grand Chapter Meeting at the fourth Conclave. Even though it was used for 12 years, the primary criticism of there not being a triangle included began a groundswell to change it once again.

The third coat-of-arms, known more commonly as the "Bastard Crest," was probably the most controversial decision in TKE history. A committee charged with finding a new design proposed to the Grand Chapter a new one by Frater O. Lee Schattenberg (Nu, Univ. of California-Berkeley). The motion was passed without hesitation. There were many problems pointed out, but none more important than not having the design adapted and authenticated by recognized heraldry authorities. Why is this important? They would have pointed out the way the dagger pierces the shield. You’ll notice that the dagger cuts through from upper right to lower left, but the correct way Bastard Crestis from upper left to lower right.  The way it is depicted means illegitimacy or cowardice on the battlefield. Such a mistake was seen as juvenile, labeling the Fraternity childish and immature. TKE, at the time, had 18 chapters and was trying to show others the Fraternity was here to stay. Making such a mistake was considered huge at a time when TKE needed to show others their validity.

Miss Emily H. Butterfield, a founder of Alpha Gamma Delta International Women's Fraternity, was one of the country’s leading authorities on fraternity heraldry and was brought in by Frater Tex Flint to help. She, along with others in TKE's ranks, put together a lengthy list of criticisms including the dagger issue. They wrote to Frater Schattenberg asking about his design and received correspondence that said, "I must plainly and frankly say that I’ve gone as far as my feeble ability allows me … I gladly withdraw from the competition and bow to others of superior ability."

Coat-of-Arms (Present)Miss Butterfield put together a design which was reviewed by the committee. While they liked the much improved look and feel, it lacked some of the masculinity they sought. She took back these suggestions (among others) and drew what we now know as the final draft and official coat-of-arms. The 1926 Conclave (17th) held in Chicago was the end of the debate and controversy. The Grand Chapter adopted what you see today.

In 1928 the Fraternity's Coat-of-Arms was copyrighted and is one of many trademarks registered in the official patent office of the United States. Only those given permission by the Offices of the Grand Chapter are allowed to reprint and distribute these marks. For more information on using this mark, please email us

As we look back on the history of TKE, we have been influenced by some amazing Fraters for everything from logos to dynamic leadership programming. It is rare, however, to have a Women's Fraternity founder make such an impact on an International Fraternity such as ours. The Grand Chapter would not be what it is today without the great work by Miss Emily H. Butterfield. We thank the women of AGD for sharing with us a great mind to develop one of our most historic and used marks in the Fraternity.

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