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Miller’s Meanderings – The Convention Map (Mural)


RJM_ConventionBy Robert J. Miller, Historian

Thousands of Phis and visitors have seen the mural map (convention map) exhibited behind the speaker’s podiums in the assembly halls and banquet rooms at conventions since 1940.  The map measures eight feet in height and twelve feet in width.  The top of the painting displays portraits of the six founders along with the coat-of-arms, Phikeia pin and Fraternity badge.  A painting of Pallas decorates the left side and the Fraternity flag adorns the right side.  All chapters, in existence at the time, are highlighted by stars.

First mention of the map appears in the minutes of a General Council meeting conducted in early March of 1940 at the Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The minute reads:

“The Executive Secretary presented a plan for the production of an attractive pictorial map of the Fraternity.  The large original painting will be used for decorative purposes at the 44th Biennial Convention and then be hung permanently in General Headquarters.”


The following minute of a meeting held in August at the same hotel, immediately preceding the General Convention, reads:

“The General Council was unanimous in its approval of the new mural map of Phi Delta Theta painted by Brother John Garth, Washburn ’12…and it was further decided that small lithographic reproductions should be produced and made available to members upon order at a price to be determined later.”

A print of the map first appeared on the inside back cover of the September 1940 Scroll (in a single color) advertising color reproductions of the map (17” X 22”) to be available for $1.50 postage prepaid.

The artist, John Garth, was initiated March 13, 1911 shortly after Kansas Beta was chartered in 1910. He  was assigned Bond # 59.  He graduated from Yale in 1914 and later changed his name from Wallace Hogarth Pettyjohn.  He was a member of the Professional Artists’ League in San Francisco and was included in Who’s Who in Art in America.  He was an Infantry Lieutenant in WWI.  He entered the Chapter Grand June 1, 1971.

There is no evidence that the map was ever displayed in General Headquarters.

2 thoughts on “Miller’s Meanderings – The Convention Map (Mural)

  1. Great post, Mr. Miller. One question – wouldn’t the mural on the wall to the right as you enter GHQ be consider a replica of the large Convention map? I know the mural displays each chapter (and many former consultant/intern has had to paint over/add chapters as they open and close).

    I didn’t realize that map was so old! Talk about getting your money’s worth!

  2. One of my fondest memories of working at HQ was driving the map across the country to the Scottsdale Convention with Moe Stephens and Chris Cortina in a two passenger Ryder van.

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