When longtime Eleusis editor Christelle Ferguson pledged Psi Chapter in 1915, she probably could have never guessed that today’s National Archivist would still be mentioning her as one of the Sisters she’d most like to meet from the early days of the Fraternity.
What made Christelle Ferguson such a special Sister? A large component of communication and connection over the last 125 years for the Fraternity has been the publication of The Eleusis, and the appointment of the editor has long been an honorable role to fill. Christelle Ferguson was appointed as long-time editor of The Eleusis in 1932 and continued her work on the publication that reached thousands of Sisters until 1968. She was appointed by former S.H. Mary Love Collins after Mary Love witnessed first hand Christelle’s love for Chi Omega as a Chapter Visitor.
Once in the role, she continued to mirror the topical focus that Mary Love had established previously, including covering events like World War II, the Cold War, and student revolutions on campuses nationwide.
In addition to editing The Eleusis, Christelle also helped Mary Love Collins craft Volumes I and II of “A History of Chi Omega,” which recorded the early years of the Fraternity and helped to establish record-keeping for years to come. These publications hold much of the crucial history of Chi Omega that we still reference today.
Mary Love Collins was known for being thrifty and saving various momentos over the years. One of her most interesting? Two pencil stubs she, Elizabeth Holloway Jackson, and Christelle Ferguson used in the writing of “A History of Chi Omega, Volumes I & II. “
Grace On and Off the Page
Christelle transferred her grace and charisma she brought the pages of The Eleusis to the steps of the Greenbrier each bicentennial as she became the unofficial greeter of Convention, welcoming all the delegates as they arrived.
One Convention delegate said of Christelle in 1952, “Chris Ferguson, who, like quicksilver, was here, there and everywhere lining up pictures for the The Eleusis, embracing all with her warm friendliness.”
Before she was editor, Christelle was a Chapter Visitor and travelled frequently. She would report back to Mary Love through written letters and telegrams, which she often began, “Dear Boss…”
One of these trips still remains one of the the National Archivist’s favorite stories of Christelle and Mary Love’s friendship. Mary Love Collins often communicated via telegram and was just as often extremely thrifty when writing her messages. She sent a message to Epsilon Gamma Chapter at Tulsa explaining that Christelle Ferguson would arrive to inspect the chapter.
Instead of writing out Christelle, she implemented her thriftiness, of which she became known for, and wrote the shortened version of Christelle as “Chris.”
One could assume that the chapter members would be able to decipher who Mary Love was referring to, except Western Union made a typo on the telegram. Instead of reading “Chris. will arrive to inspect the chapter,” it read “Christ will arrive to inspect the chapter.”
At Convention in 1972, Mary Clay Williams, former S.K.A., delighted everyone with her story of being a young chapter president when this hilarious confusion preceded Christelle’s visit.
After years of dedication to The Eleusis and the National Panhellenic Editors Association (NPEC), of which she was secretary and chairman 1939-1943, Christelle was honored in 1976 with the first ever President’s Award for outstanding service to the Fraternity.
In the 1982 fall issue of The Eleusis that followed Convention and Helen Gordon receiving the President’s Award, she celebrated the path Christelle had paved for her and so many others. She wrote, “It has been she who taught me more than any other the meaning of Chi Omega as a friendship group. I know of no one who has had a richer experience in friendship with countless Chi Omegas, who has had more genuine satisfaction in her fraternity membership, and who has been more loyal and devoted to its purposes than has Chris. “