Zeta Tau Alpha was founded Oct. 15, 1898, by nine women at the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Va. Only 14-15 years of age, these young women desired permanence to their friendships and hoped to perpetuate their sisterhood long after college. Though dedicated to the formation of a Greek-letter group, the band of nine delayed selecting a formal name. A temporary name of “???” was taken when, as legend has it, a member of another group met with the Founders. Raising her eyebrows and forming her fingers in the shape of a question mark, she asked “Who are you?” In unison, the group answered “Yes, Who? Who? Who?” Thus, the group came to be known as “???” while they sought an appropriate Greek name and symbols. During this time, the group received valuable assistance from two of the members’ brothers -- Maud Jones Horner’s brother, Plummer Jones, and Frances Yancey Smith’s brother Giles Mebane Smith. Both were students at the college of William and Mary, members of men’s Greek-letter organizations and knowledgeable of Greek lore. After a year of careful contemplation, the group chose the formal name, the patron goddess and the badge.
Today, Zeta Tau Alpha consists of three entities: Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity (for general purposes referred to as Zeta Tau Alpha or ZTA), Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation, Inc. (for general purposes referred to as the Foundation or ZTAF) and Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity Housing Corporation (for general purposes referred to as the National Housing Corporation or NHC). The names Zeta Tau Alpha, ZTA and National Fraternity are often used when referring to the three organizations as a whole.
Zeta Tau Alpha currently has 163 active collegiate chapters and 242 established alumnae chapters and clubs world wide.