88 - Ina May Boles

Most Sisters know Ina May Boles as a Founder of our beloved Sisterhood, but what may be lesser known is her love for the arts. Thanks to her time as a boarder in the Vincenheller home, she became good friends with Jean Vincenheller while living in Fayetteville. Through Jean, Ina May met Jobelle Holcombe, then met Dr. Richardson when he would attend Sunday gatherings at the Vincenheller house. Eventually the four befriended Allie Simonds, and the rest is history, as they say, in regards to the Founding.

After Founding Chi Omega alongside her new Sisters and Dr. Richardson, she left school early to further pursue her art, never officially graduating from the University of Arkansas. Ina May dedicated her life to her craft, painting under her married name of Christina Morton, and her work has shown up in prominent galleries and esteemed shows across the United States and Europe.

Before she became an accomplished artist or met her Chi Omega Sisters, Ina May Boles was born on December 8, 1877, in Dardanelle, Arkansas, to Thomas Boles, an attorney, judge, and two-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arkansas’ 3rd District, and Catherine Keith Boles, born in Scotland. Ina May had one older sister, eight years her senior.

Ina May was just 17 years old at the time of Chi Omega’s Founding, younger than most of our members are when they join as a new member. She would later go on to serve as G.K.A. of Psi.

Beyond her collaborations on the Constitution and Ritual, Ina May’s unique contributions to Chi Omega included using her artistic talents. She is credited with designing various pieces of the Ritual ceremony, the official ring worn by Founders and the Governing Council, the seal, the original crest, and the department headings originally used in The Eleusis.

Original crest designed by
Ina May Boles

Around the time that Ina May was planning to leave Arkansas to follow her art career, Benjamin A. Morton, a young attorney who had been in love with her since their high school days, asked her to marry him. To his surprise, she said no quite confidently. She explained to him that her art was the most important thing to her and she was planning to move to New York City to pursue her dream. Her declaration of her own independence and ambition must have been appealing to Ben, because he stated he’d move with her and establish his career there. He wanted to support her as she pursued her art career, so off he went with Ina May to New York City, and a few years later the two were married.

“The Yellow Dress” by Christina Morton, Ina May Boles, sold at auction to a private seller in 2001 for $32,375

In addition to her time spent in New York City, she also studied her craft in incredibly artistic cities like Chicago, Paris, and Spain. Along with having her art displayed in the United States and Europe, Ina May illustrated her husband’s book entitled The Veiled Empress, published in 1923.

Ina May Boles, self portrait

Although she left Arkansas soon after the Founding, and never served on the Governing Council like some of her fellow Founders, she did not forget about Chi Omega throughout her ambitious art career. She served as president of the New York City Alumnae Chapter, installed Beta Chapter at Colby College, and assisted in the installation of Epsilon Chapter at Barnard College Columbia University.

After years of painting and perfecting her talent, Ina May went on to teach at the University of Oklahoma. She continued working within her passion for the arts until she joined the Omega Chapter on October 14, 1963.