Harriet Luella McCollum
Harriet Luella McCollum was the first to conceive of the idea for Alpha Xi Delta, wishing to create a fraternity that would provide its members with "enduring love and friendship, a strong impulse toward the leading of nobler lives, and beyond this, be an active influence in the college world" In March 1893, six women gathered at 629 Day Street, an apartment Harriet shared with Cora Bollinger Block; four others were soon added, and this group of ten sought to form a local fraternity. A feminist said to have an unusual sense of humor, Harriet was elected the first chairman of the group and later served as the first historian of the Alpha Chapter.
Harriet was born in Kansas on May 25, 1874 and entered Lombard College's preparatory school in 1891. She was classified as a freshman during the 1892-1893 school year, when Alpha Xi Delta was founded. Unfortunately, a prolonged illness forced Harriet to end her education after her sophomore year. In 1897, she married the Universalist pastor C. W. E. Gossow but kept her own surname. The couple had two children, including a daughter named after the Fraternity, Marion Alpha Gossow.
Later in life, Harriet had an active career as a lecturer in psychology. Beginning in 1913, she traveled around the United States providing adult education lectures called "Health, Happiness, and Success" and "The Great New Science of Human Life." Popular and deeply spiritual, Harriet's lectures helped people overcome "unhappiness caused by ill-adaptation to their environment." She later focused on the abolition of capital punishment. Harriet died in October 1948 at the age of 74.