1898 - The Beginning
Founders: Margaret Lee Batten, Louise Marie Davis, Martha Trent Featherston, Isabella Merrick, Sallie Jackson Michie, Lelia Scott, Elizabeth Watkins and Lucy Wright.
From our earliest days, we seek out others to accompany us on our journey. There will be many acquaintances as we travel along our path. Among them will be found some with whom we feel a special bond…a rapport to be welcomed and nurtured. There may be one or two…there may be a hundred.
Is it any wonder then, that eight young women, away from home and family, found each other and began their journey in friendship? They stepped out on a path from Farmville, Virginia in 1898, sharing a special bond as friends who regarded each other as sisters. They reached out to others who joined them on the journey. Together, they established a sisterhood called Sigma Sigma Sigma. We find friends within the bonds of Tri Sigma. We regard these friends as sisters. We enter into a state of being Sisters. We are a Sisterhood.
Excerpt taken from A Century of Sisterhood, 1898-2001.
There were many "firsts." We held our first
general convention and elected Rhea Clarke Scott, Alpha, our first
Grand President. The first national constitution was written as well
as "Stately and Royal," and the "Early History of Sigma Sigma Sigma." "The Triangle of Sigma Sigma Sigma" was established and our Triangle badge adopted. J. Miller Leake became the only man permitted to wear our badge.
Bess Bennett Brower Willis, Gamma, was elected in 1908 as our second president. We went from Alpha to Theta as eight new chapters were added during this decade.
We followed the trend—voices were raised—Sigmas were emancipated women! We were caught up in a global war and Sigmas joined the corps of American women in war work. Mabel Lee Walton elected our third national president in 1913 and would serve until 1947. Tri Sigma forged ahead on teacher college campuses and became a member of AES (Assoc. of Educational Sororities.) An Endowment Fund was introduced and Omega services begun. Eight new chapters installed from Kappa to Rho.
The Roaring Twenties had begun. Sigmas moved forward establishing many new publications: a song book, officer manuals, pledge manual, The Angle, The Stray. We celebrated our 25th anniversary. The Circle degree was conferred on 62 alumnae. Central office located in Woodstock, VA. We added 16 new chapters going from Tau through Alpha Lambda.
The Great Depression was in force. These were the lean years but Tri Sigma continued to thrive. The John Randolph Library was designated our National social service project. Our Triennial Plan was developed, Charm School established, our E.O. moved to Clermont, FL , we had our first “Honor Initiate,” and Sigmas adopted the Emily Gates Achievement Award. Nine new chapters were added from Alpha Mu to Alpha Upsilon.
World War II began and ended. Tri Sigmas entered the armed services and volunteered for other war efforts. The first bound book of Sigma Rituals was published. The diamond badge of Mabel Lee Walton was passed on to our fourth national president, Mary Hastings Holloway Page, Alpha. Executive Office moved to the home of Marie Santee Dunham in Muskogee, OK then later to Denison, TX. We celebrated 50 years of Sigma Sigma Sigma. Fifteen new chapters were installed from Alpha Phi to Beta Mu.
Sputnik and Elvis made the scene. The Space Age was upon us. Tri Sigma became a member of NPC. We adopted the Robbie Page Memorial (RPM) as our national philanthropy to fight polio. Robbie was the son of our 4th president. Our first history was published, our “doll collection” was started, and our Mabel Lee Walton became President Emerita. Care of hospitalized children began at the North Carolina Memorial Hospital. We elected Margaret Freeman Dixon, Sigma, as our fifth national president and celebrated our 60th anniversary. Fourteen new chapters were chartered—Beta Nu through Gamma Gamma.
A time of unrest on college campuses. The fraternity system was challenged but Sigma Sigma Sigma held true to its founding principles. Nelda Francis Crawford, Alpha, became our sixth national president. We created the College Chapter Housing Fund, lifetime dues, a Collegiate Advisory Board (CAB) was established and the Steadfast Alumna Award was introduced. We bought Walton House and made it our permanent headquarters in Woodstock, VA. New chapters numbered 25—Gamma Epsilon to Delta Epsilon.
The Vietnam war was behind us. Members of Sigma Sigma Sigma affirmed the founding purposes and Declaration of Principles. Helen Marie Eggert Snyder, Alpha Xi, elected our 7th national president. We celebrated our 75th anniversary. RPM expanded to include play therapy at Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis and Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. The Alumnae Advisory Committee was established, Key Alumnae started, and “Make a Child Smile” balloon ascension introduced to benefit RPM. We installed 14 new chapters—Delta Zeta through Delta Tau.
Technology makes an impact at Executive Office. Computers become a permanent fixture at E.O. Mary K. Barbee named the first Sigma to serve as Chairman of NPC. Mimi Brandt Hiner, Beta Xi, elected our 8th national president. A career network, Tradewinds, was established and our Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation was instituted. Ann Buchler Williams, Gamma Eta, became our 9th national president. Dunham Leadership Conference replaces Regional Meets. 21 college chapter chartered—Delta Upsilon up to Epsilon Rho.
Tri Sigmas move ever forward. Archival work begins in earnest for our 100th anniversary celebration. Diana Hornick Sarber, Beta Mu, becomes our 10th national president. We have the first sorority chapter in Alaska and the first D/deaf and hard-of-hearing chapter in Rochester, NY. The Educational Foundation and RPM are reorganized as the Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation. We have our first website, www.sigmasigmasigma.org! Our new chapters during this decade are 41 taking us from Epsilon Sigma to Eta Mu.
In 2001 the foundation walk started, Mary K. Barbee, Iota, becomes 11th National President, the "Ever Forward" logo appears for the first time, and the first international chapter was chartered in Germany, Eta Mu.
In 2004 Laura Ward Sweet, Alpha Sigma, becomes our 12th National President.
2010 - Present
2010 brought many opportunities for Tri Sigma to look forward and continue a path of innovation. Tri Sigma's Executive Council adjusted to a governance model to better meet the needs of this dynamic sisterhood. Kaye Schendel was installed as Tri Sigma's 13th National President at the 2010 Convention in Minneapolis, MN. A re-branding was completed which involved a refreshed website, online education modules, Twitter account, Facebook page and blog.
In 2013, our National Convention will be held in Orlando, FL.