Although the College of Charleston began its corporate existence March 19, 1785, with the passage of an act by the General Assembly of South Carolina, colonial aspirations for higher education extended into the early eighteenth century. The college had in fact been founded 15 years earlier in 1770, when the first contribution was made to the endowment.
Classes at the college began July 3, 1785, but did not become a co-educational institution until 1918. In March of 1971, at South Carolina State Day in Charleston, Martha Edens Helms, international president, inquired about the possibilities of colonizing at the College of Charleston. During July and August, Martha Edens Helms and Anna Boswell McCord, Province II-S President, made numerous visits to Charleston and finally received approval from President Theordore S. Stern to colonize that fall.
The alumnae met with Mrs. Helms and enthusiastically began work on the rush weekend which was set for September 24-26. The first rush party was held on the college campus in Alumni Memorial Hall. The Beta Omicrons from the University of South Carolina came to conduct rush.
The last recruitment party was held at the home of Mrs. Robert M. Gifford. After the party, the rushees signed bids and all 22 pledged Zeta that afternoon. They received their bids in front of Memorial Hall and ZTA at the College of Charleston was off to a wonderful start.
Page Gifford had been hard at work finding a home for the new Zetas while rush was in progress. At 34 Coming Street an apartment was rented and decorated by Mrs. Page Gifford and Nancy Walsh of Greenville S.C.
The colony officers had also been elected. They were: Rachele Harvey, president, Beth Bennett, vice-president; Beth Jones, recording secretary; Kristy Johnson, corresponding secretary; Trudy Dupuis, treasurer; Pam Duncan, historian-reporter; Karen Baker, Panhellenic representative.
In March, Mrs. Helms met with the alumnae and designated April 7-9 as Installation Weekend. Beta Omicron sent an initiation team and initiation began on Friday evening at Circular Congregational Church, an historic church organized in 1681. The installation ceremony was held Saturday, April 8, at the church with new initiates and alumnae in attendance. Mrs. Helms and Mrs. McCord conducted the service.
Eta Lambda charter members are: Karen Lee Baker, Beth Ann Bennett, Pamela Duncan, Rachele Edith Harvey, Kristy Ann Johnson, Elizabeth Marie Jones, Judith Louise Lubs, Mary Diane Mims, Pamela Gay McMillian, Mary Ella Pstrak, Cathy Ann Swaggerty, and Debbie Sue Young. Paula Bradkam, Berbara Gray, Merrill Janousky, Dena Meitzler, and Kristy Johnson were pledges in the new colony.
The new initiates attended Circular Congregational Church together on Sunday morning and donated the flowers to the church that day. That afternoon a reception was held at Alumni Memorial Hall with administration faculty, parents, and other Greeks were invited. The inspiration of Installation weekend at Eta Lambda quickened the hearts of every Zeta present.