On January 15 1908, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became America's first Greek-letter organization established by Black college women. Her roots date back to Howard University, Washington, D.C., where the idea for formation was conceived by Ethel Hedgeman Lyle of St. Louis, Missouri. She viewed the sorority as an instrument for enriching the social and intellectual aspects of college life by providing mental stimulation through interaction with friends and associates. Through the years, Alpha Kappa Alpha's function has become more complex. After her incorporation as a perpetual body in 1913, Alpha Kappa Alpha branched out and became the channel through which selected college-trained women improved the socioeconomic conditions in their city, state, nation, and the world.
The original group was comprised of Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Slowe, and Marie Woolfolk Taylor.
With the exception of Ethel, the original group of women was comprised of college seniors. To continue the growth of the organization, seven members of the class of 1910 were invited to join without initiation. The sophomores were Norma Boyd, Ethel Jones Mowbray, Alice Murray, Sarah Meriweather Nutter, Joanna Berry Shields, Carrie Snowden and Harriet Terry.
The first step of establishing a national body in perpetuity was taken on January 29, 1913 when Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was legally incorporated. The group of incorporators included Nellie Quander, Julia Brooks, Nellie Pratt Russell and Minnie Smith.