Sigma Delta Tau Sorority was founded on March 25, 1917, by seven Jewish women at Cornell University. Sigma Delta Tau is the youngest of the NPC members.
By 1917, two sororities and women’s fraternities had already been founded by women who were considered “religious minorities” on college campuses across the country: Alpha Epsilon Phi in 1909 and Theta Phi Alpha in 1912.
In 1917, however, another organization for Jewish women was about to emerge at Cornell University: Sigma Delta Tau.
History of Sigma Delta Tau
Sigma Delta Tau was originally founded as Sigma Delta Phi on March 25, 1917, at Cornell University by seven women who had experienced, as the organization’s website says, “subtle, but very real, discrimination practiced against religious minorities by many Greek organizations at the time.”
The organization became known as Sigma Delta Tau when its founders, applying for articles of incorporation, found that there was already another organization with the same name.
However, the seven Jewish women set out to form their own organization, and following the installation of the new chapter on June 16, 1917, university administrators and members of the seven national sororities on campus – Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Delta Zeta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Kappa Delta – joined the seven founders and two provisional members at a banquet celebrating the newest campus sorority.
Not much is made public knowledge about Sigma Delta Tau’s early years. However, expansion of the organization continued across the United States.
In 1951, Sigma Delta Tau was one of eleven sororities and women’s fraternities who were granted full membership in the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). Today, due to financial instability and mergers with other NPC groups, only eight of those organizations are still in existence.
Sigma Delta Tau Today
Today, Sigma Delta Tau has over 40,000 initiated members and over 90 active collegiate chapters across the United States.
Membership in Sigma Delta Tau is open to all women regardless of religious backgrounds. However, the foundations of the organization are rooted in the Jewish faith.
Sigma Delta Tau’s philanthropic projects include Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) and Jewish Women International. Members of Sigma Delta Tau devote many hours of community service and fundraising efforts to both organizations, as well as projects within their communities.
Sigma Delta Tau, like many other fraternal organizations, can be identified through various distinct insignia adopted throughout the organization’s history.
- Colors: cafe au lait and old blue
- Symbol: torch
- Flower: golden tea rose
- Philanthropies: Prevent Child Abuse America and Jewish Women International
- Motto: Patriae Multae Spes Una “One Hope of Many People”
Founded in 1917, Sigma Delta Tau is one of the United States’s youngest national “traditional” sororities or women’s fraternities. However, Sigma Delta Tau continues to provide the same sense of companionship and leadership opportunities to its memebers across America.