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Olive Burnett

Without question, all seven Founders are important figures in the telling of Alpha Chi Omega’s history.

However, to indicate that their contributions were equal in influence would do an injustice to Olive Burnett.

All who followed her as members owe Olive an enormous debt of gratitude.

It was Olive who documented the details of the founding events; who provided vibrant descriptions of the other six and Dean Howe;

who set the example of grace, civility and dignity that defined the Fraternity both internally and externally throughout her life;

who encouraged effort from all members to remember Alpha Chi Omega’s commitment to “the heights.”

Olive Burnett was born in Greencastle, Indiana, on June 10, 1867.

Her father was a graduate of Indiana Asbury University—later named DePauw University, a member of Sigma Chi, and her mother, part of an old pioneer family who died when Olive was thirteen.

Olive, with her childhood friends Anna and Bessie, entered DePauw in the fall of 1885.

Like the others, Olive came to the university as one who had studied piano.

During her first year at DePauw she added violin and, upon Dean Howe’s request, began the study of double bass and cello in order to fill a need in orchestra and ensemble work.

From 1886-88, she was a member of the School of Music faculty of DePauw, teaching pianoforte and primary work on the violin, cello and double bass, all while serving as organist at the College Avenue Church.

Somehow, she also found time to participate in the emergence of Alpha Chi Omega on campus.

Olive’s Fraternity work during those first years was primarily behind the scenes, seeing to such things as having the Constitution printed and bound with the Greek letters “in proper form.”

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