Sigma Sigma Sigma, also known as Tri Sigma or Sigma, was founded on April 20, 1898, at Virginia State Female Normal School, now known as Longwood University.
The Virginia State Female Normal School, now known as Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, witnessed the founding of four national sororities around the turn of the twentieth century: Kappa Delta Sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity, Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, and Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority. Together, these organizations were collectively known as the Farmville Four, identifying the origins of the four sororities and women’s fraternities.
History of Sigma Sigma Sigma
Sigma Sigma Sigma was founded by eight women who had entered Virginia State Female Normal School to study teacher education. Margaret Batten, Louise Davis, Martha Trent Featherston, Isabella Merrick, Sallie Michie, Lelia Scott, Elizabeth Watkins, and Lucy Wright formed what was called the S.S.S. Club sometime in 1897. However, when the friends met on April 20, 1898, they announced that the S.S.S. Club had officially become the society known as Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority.
On February 12, 1903, Tri Sigma received its Charter of Incorporation from the Commonwealth of Virginia and quickly set out adopting a constitution, bylaws, and creating new chapters.
Sigma Sigma Sigma continued to expand in 1915, when the organization absorbed the two remaining chapters of Sigma Delta Chi sorority, an organization founded at Northeast Missouri State University in 1902 and, at its largest, only had four chapters throughout Missouri.
In 1916, Sigma Sigma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Alpha came together to form a panhellenic agreement, and they soon invited Pi Kappa Sigma and Delta Sigma Epsilon to join this agreement the following year. The result was an organization called the Association of Pedagogical Sororities, which later became known as the Association of Education Sororities (AES.) Three more similar sororities and women’s fraternities would join AES between 1925 and 1931.
As AES member organizations spread across the United States, competition between these organizations and those who belonged to the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) grew. Sometimes, women held membership in AES and NPC organizations. In 1926, the two umbrella organizations met to lay out guidelines as to how the two groups would function in relation to each other when both were present on the same campus.
However, the AES organization was short-lived. When AES was holding its convention in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1947, they received word that AES member organizations had been granted associate membership in the National Panhellenic Conference, but there were reservations about admitting these organizations to full membership because of the number of women who held membership in AES and NPC organizations.
When Sigma Sigma Sigma and the five other former AES organizations were given full NPC membership in 1951, women had to choose between their AES organization and NPC organization. This is because the National Panhellenic Conference prohibits membership in more than one member organization during a woman’s lifetime.
Sigma Sigma Sigma, as a condition of receiving full membership in the National Panhellenic Conference, had to close all of its chapters that had been established on the campuses of colleges that were not accredited.
Sigma Sigma Sigma Today
Today, Sigma Sorority has over 100,000 collegiate members. Sigma Sigma Sigma has over 110 active collegiate chapters in the United States, Canada, and Germany, including the first hearing-impaired chapter at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. The organization also has 88 alumnae organizations all over the world.
Sigma Sigma Sigma’s philanthropic project is the Robbie Page Memorial Foundation. Named in honor of one of Sigma Sigma Sigma’s former national president’s son, the organization helps to promote play therapy for children with terminal illnesses. Robbie Page died from bulbar polio in 1951.
Sigma Sigma Sigma can be recognized throughout the world of Greek letter organizations by distinctive insignia adopted throughout the organization’s history.
- Colors: royal purple and white
- Symbol: sailboat
- Flower: purple violet
- Philanthropy: Robbie Page Memorial Foundation
- Motto: Faithful Unto Death
Founded in 1898, Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority was founded on the basis of providing friendship to those women who were studying teacher education. As the needs of the organization and its members changed, Tri Sigma continued to evolve even into its second century of existence and continues to grow today.