Following World War I, women were given the right to vote. It was in this period of time that women began to enroll and attend the universities and colleges to study. Nursing was a new program on the college campus. Nursing students who were enrolled on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley believed that the nursing profession would reach its fullest development through an improved plan of education. After holding conferences with the Dean, the faculty of the University, and the Director of the School of Nursing, a Nurses’ Sorority was founded on February 15, 1921 on the Berkeley campus. It was decided to name the new nurses’ organization ALPHA TAU, and the first chapter was named ALPHA–THE LADY OF THE LAMP, after Florence Nightingale. During the weeks that followed, the organizing committee decided that the nursing sorority should be designated as a fraternity since it was professional in nature.
Invitations were sent to eligible collegiate Schools of Nursing throughout the states to join ATD. The second chapter to be chartered was Beta, at the University of Minnesota in 1927, followed by Gamma at the University of California of Los Angeles in 1928. Since new chapters were being founded on different campuses in different cities, a central office was established at Berkeley. The name was changed to ALPHA TAU DELTA in 1924. The Greek letter DELTA was added when it was learned that a male fraternity had prior claim to the name ALPHA TAU. ALPHA TAU DELTA and its insignia have been registered in the United States Patent Office, Washington, D.C. ALPHA TAU DELTA became the first nursing fraternity in the United States. The first national publication, the T.P.R. of ATD, was published in 1931. Later the name was changed to “Cap’tions” of ALPHA TAU DELTA and was changed to The Pulse in 2000.
ATD’s first National convention was held in 1932, in conjunction with the American Nurses Association Biennial Convention with six chapters participating. The fraternity has met in National conventions each Biennium from 1931 to the present time, except in 1944, during World War II or under exceptional circumstances. In the early 1970’s, ATD opened membership to male nursing students and the Articles of Incorporation of ATD were changed to reflect this decision. In 1978 ALPHA TAU DELTA became a charter member of the Professional Fraternity Association. This association was the consolidation of the Professional Pan Hellenic Association founded in 1925 and the Professional Inter Fraternity Conference founded in 1928. PFA joins all professional fraternities together to encourage excellence in scholarship, advancement of professional and inter fraternity ethics, and cooperation among fraternities for the advancement of fraternal ideals.
The governing body of ALPHA TAU DELTA is its’ Biennial National Convention. It is composed of elected delegates from each College and Alumni Chapters, delegates from the Member at Large group and the National Officers. ALPHA TAU DELTA operates under the Articles of Incorporation in California and the ATD National By-laws.
Each college chapter has a faculty advisor and their own officers. Chapters plan their own activities and programs. Many chapters join organizations with other professional fraternities and sponsor, co-sponsor several campus activities. These activities provide opportunities for members to share social and professional interests. Chapter officers are chosen in the spring for the following academic year. In 1992, the National ATD Board eliminated pledging and instead initiated a membership orientation period for prospective members. The ATD Professional Nursing Fraternity has initiated more than 10,000 students and graduates in nursing.