Tri Kappa was formed by several ladies attending the Girls’ Classical School, founded by May Wright Sewall, in Indianapolis.  This secondary school included the first two years of college level education.  The young ladies decided it might be fun to form a “secret” organization, to have a few social times together, to elect officers, to collect dues, to have a password, and to set a few rules.

Of the original eight members, only Beryl Showers of Bloomington returned to school the following fall. Beryl decided to revive the organization and selected her best friend, Erma Ribeyre; her roommate, Mary Sanders; and four other friends, Bertha Matthews, Gertrude Zumpe, Lulu Baer, and Frances Roberts to join the group. These seven young ladies are considered the founders of Tri Kappa. They met in Beryl's room on February 22, 1901, and formally organized as Kappa Kappa Kappa. Officers were elected and they wrote a constitution avowing their purpose to be charity and kindness. The original pin later became the Council pin. To ensure Tri Kappa would continue beyond their school days, each member was to start a chapter in her hometown.

As the original founders planned, Beryl Showers and Bertha Matthews started the first chapter, Alpha in Bloomington, when they returned home from Girls Classical School.