1959: A European Tour

Gamma Phi Betas on the European tour stop to take a photo in Rome, 1959.

Gamma Phi Betas capped off the 1950s with their first European tour. On July 19, 1959, 39 collegiate members from 21 chapters, along with seven alumnae and 15 guests, boarded a ship in Quebec and headed for Southampton, England. After enjoying the English countryside, they went to London, where they boarded the Channel Steamer for “a rocky six-hour ride” to Holland. With couriers and drivers to handle their luggage, transportation, and all the arrangements, their first stop was in Brussels, Belgium and then on to Cologne, Germany, where they spent four days enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest. They visited universities and castles, and shopped for everything from Hummel figurines to lederhosen.

 From there they went on to Switzerland, where they again toured the scenic countryside, followed by Venice and Rome, where they took in castles and cathedrals, shopped, and ate their way through Italy. They donned their bikinis for the beaches of the French Riviera, visited a few casinos, and then headed to Paris, on to Amsterdam, and home again. In all their travels, the women did their best to be ambassadors for Gamma Phi Beta and America as a whole. They received a letter from fellow travelers at the Golf Hotel outside Paris; a French literature teacher named Andre Zavriew wrote on everyone’s behalf. He praised their warmth and gentleness, adding, “I am sure you understood how glad we were to talk to you, to listen to your songs and to look at your smiles. That night, we were in love with America.”