Mortar Board began as the first-ever national organization honoring senior college women.  Today, it has grown into a comprehensive honor society that selects first-rate members who exemplify the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service.  Below are a few landmark dates in the ever-growing history of Mortar Board.


A member of Mortar Board, a local honor society at The Ohio State University, met a member of Pi Sigma Chi from Swarthmore College on the campus of the University of Chicago.  Each woman wore a small pin in the shape of a mortarboard.  Through discussion, they realized each pin represented an honor society for women with similar values and procedures.



Representatives from Cornell University, The University of Michigan, The Ohio State University, Swarthmore College and Syracuse University held the founding meeting on February 15 on the campus of Syracuse University.  Each university chose to join the national organization but Syracuse.  At this time the pin, motto and Bylaws were adopted.  The organization remained nameless.



Although the organization had informally been called “Mortar Board” in numerous pieces of correspondence since the founding meeting, the name was not made official until the second national convention, held at The University of Michigan.  It was decided that national officers would come from ranks of alumni.



Official delegates of each chapter in attendance at the national convention determined that districts in Mortar Board should be established to help facilitate the growing size of the organization, now consisting of 18 chapters.



Mortar Board was invited to become a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS).  Mortar Board was the only organization composed entirely of women to be recognized by ACHS at this time.



Delegates from Mortar Board’s chapters voted to establish the Mortar Board Foundation Fund.  The purpose was to create a means by which contributions might be able to advance the purposes of the organization.



By decision from the delegates at the national conference, a National Office for Mortar Board was established.  The National Office was to be located on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. 



Mortar Board instituted an award to honor women who had made outstanding contributions to the status of women, consistent with the society’s ideals, known as the National Citation.  The first citation was presented to Congresswoman Martha W. Griffiths of Michigan.



The ramifications of Title IX, an act which prohibited gender discrimination within organizations on campuses that were recipients of federal funds, were taken into consideration and membership was opened to male students.  The purpose of the organization at this time was amended to include “to promote and advance the status of women.”



The purpose was revisited, and affirmed “to emphasize the advancement of the status of women” as well as “to promote equal opportunities among all people.”



Mortar Board delegates initiated a national project to be selected biennially, with the first being organ donor awareness.


Delegates voted to make a pro-literacy project, “Reading is Leading,” the permanent national project for Mortar Board.