“You’d say is-they-alethes (spelling uncertain), I’m not sure what that means, but it’s Greek, and I think it means in the bonds. And you’d take the person’s hand and give it three pulses. And I was the marshal in the house, which is kind of like the parliamentarian, so I would stand at the front of the house and give everyone the handshake when they came in. And everybody would have to say is they- alethes (spelling uncertain) and shake my hand and that was kind of funny and then the president would say sister marshal are the chapter rooms secure? And I would say yes they are secure and then we would close chapter doors and we would have our meeting. And you learned the handshake after you pledged, and you learned the saying and the traditions. And it was a way of letting us know you were in the sorority.”

Informant: The informant is a mother of three currently living in Dallas, Texas, to where she moved from Chicago at the age of three. She attended the University of Texas at Austin, and was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and has lived in Dallas ever since. She has a younger brother and a younger sister.


This ritual is an example of folklore that distinguishes those within the sorority from those not in the sorority. As a sisterhood, sororities have many traditions and rituals that only members are allowed to know. The sisterhood can only be entered if a girl decides to go through recruitment and mutually selects the house. Upon this selection, the girl can enter the sisterhood. Many rituals are taught to the girls, but this specific one is interesting because it is similar to the secret handshakes that children would come up with for their best friends. When children are younger, they often come up with handshakes so as to distinguish the special bond of friendship that they have. In accordance with this, the delta delta delta sorority, or Tri Delta sorority has instituted their own handshake as a way to determine whether or not someone is in the sorority. As they like to keep their meetings secret and only giving information to those within the sorority, the handshake is their way of determining membership upon their entrance to the meetings. The marshal is the job held by the person who determines this, and therefore keeps any outsiders from entering the meetings. This is a way to ensure that this sisterhood remains intact and keeps those who are within separated from those who are not. The saying that goes with the handshake re-affirms this as well.