The Great Depression, 1929-1939

The stock market crash in 1929 and the resulting Great Depression affected organizations and businesses throughout the country, and Phi Mu was no exception. Membership at many chapters greatly decreased in the first few years of the Depression as some active members were forced to withdraw from school and fewer new students enrolled in colleges across the country. Initiations for the 1930-31 school year were down about 18% from the previous year. Beyond membership, many chapters suffered severe financial losses as banks failed and the cost of housing continued to increase as income dropped. As universities saw their overall enrollment decrease and their dormitories going unfilled, many institutions prohibited first-year students from living in Greek houses and severely limited the ability of upperclassmen to do so as well. Due to the financial strain on collegiate and alumnae members alike, the 1933 National Convention was postponed. Six collegiate chapters were lost between 1930 and 1936, although remarkably, seven more were added during that same period. Conditions began to improve for chapters in 1934, and, by 1935 officers reported vast improvements with higher spirits and more pledges. Alice Miller, future National President and Treasurer during the Great Depression recalled those years saying "How we survived, I'll never know, but everyone displayed courage and we pulled through."