The Delta Kappa Gamma, an international honorary society for women in education, was founded by Annie Webb Blanton and eleven other Texas women on May 11, 1929, at the University Faculty Women's Club in Austin. The organization, originally called Kappa Gamma Delta, was chartered under its present name on August 15, 1929, after founders learned that the original name was being used by an aeronautics society. Exclusive rights to the name were not finally secured, however, until 1941. Blanton, a professor of rural education at the University of Texas, founded the society as a vehicle for its members to counter discrimination against women in education and to give recognition for excellence. Its purposes were also to provide women with a sense of unity and cooperation, to secure legislation supporting improvements in education, to help women gain equal representation in professional organizations, and to provide financial assistance for women preparing for careers in education. As Delta Kappa Gamma grew, it concentrated increasingly on providing intellectual and financial support for its members and on recognizing excellence.
Seventeen chapters were formed the first year; by 1987 the society had over 3,000 chapters in fifty states and thirteen countries. Nearly 300 of those chapters were in Texas. Blanton, the first president, decided that the society's name, symbols, and initiation ritual would remain secret to outsiders. Her invitations to potential members were signed with the pseudonymous initials KGD rather than with her own name. Initiates originally were required to have at least five years of experience in elementary, secondary, or postsecondary education; this was later changed to three years. Blanton hoped to attract members with a variety of experiences. Among the original twelve founders were an elementary teacher, three elementary principals, one mathematics and two history teachers, three college instructors (of physical education, elementary education, and psychology), and a dean of women.
Delta Kappa Gamma has chapter, state, regional, and international bodies, and its governance and operation are controlled by an executive board of 120 people. It holds biennial regional and international conventions. The society offers several awards and scholarships, including the annual International Achievement Award for leadership; the Educator's Award, given for the outstanding book on education by a woman; and more than twenty annual scholarships for members pursuing graduate study. It also makes several yearly awards through its World Fellowship Program to women from other countries studying at universities in the United States and Canada. The Delta Kappa Gamma Foundation was established in 1964 as a source of grants, scholarships, and fellowships and to support such educational projects as providing a reading teacher for the Navajo community college. The society publishes a quarterly Bulletin, a periodic newspaper called News, and numerous brochures and pamphlets. The group's collection of "pioneer figurines," dolls representing significant women in education, is displayed at its international headquarters in Austin. Its national headquarters are in Denton. Its membership grew from twelve in 1929 to 162,000 in 1987.