Sigma Sigma Sigma

Sigma Sigma Sigma
Founded April 20, 1898 (1898-04-20)
Longwood College (Farmville, Virginia)
Type Social
Scope International
Mission statement To establish among its members a perpetual bond of friendship, to develop in them strong womanly character, and to impress upon them high standards of conduct.
Vision statement Sigma Sigma Sigma will provide exceptional experiences that will empower women to change the world.
Motto Πιστός εἰς Θάνατον[1] (Faithful Unto Death)
Colors      Royal Purple      White
Symbol Sailboat
Flower Purple Violet
Jewel Pearl
Publication The Triangle of Sigma Sigma Sigma
Philanthropy The Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation
Members 111,000+ collegiate
Nickname Tri Sigma
Headquarters 225 North Muhlenberg Street
Woodstock, Virginia

Sigma Sigma Sigma (ΣΣΣ), also known as Tri Sigma, is a national American women’s sorority with membership of more than 100,000 members. Sigma Sigma Sigma is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference and hosts chapters on more than 110 college campuses and over 90 alumnae chapters in communities all over the world.


In the 1890s, the State Female Normal School in Farmville, Virginia (now known as Longwood University) was the state’s first institution to open its doors to teacher education, at a time when higher education for women was a highly debated topic. Eight students (Margaret Batten, Louise Davis, Martha Trent Featherston, Isabella Merrick, Sallie Michie, Lelia Scott, Elizabeth Watkins, and Lucy Wright) formed a special bond while studying for their future teaching careers. Lelia Scott and Lucy Wright led the first meetings of their secret society, the S.S.S. Club, in 1897. On April 20, 1898, these women officially announced the founding of the Greek letter society known as Sigma Sigma Sigma.

At the same time, Lucy Wright’s roommate, Julia Tyler, worked to form Kappa Delta sorority. In the fall of 1898, Zeta Tau Alpha was founded, followed by the founding of Alpha Sigma Alpha in 1901. These four sororities were all founded at the State Female Normal School and were henceforth referred to as the Farmville Four.

In its first decade, Tri Sigma recognized the need for both legal recognition as a social body and a written record of organization. Therefore, they filed documents with the Commonwealth of Virginia and received their Charter of Incorporation on February 12, 1903. Tri Sigma's first constitution was adopted by its first chapter, the Alpha Chapter, in April 1903.

In the first decade since its inception, giant steps were taken in laying the groundwork of the sorority’s foundation. In 1915, Tri Sigma absorbed the two remaining chapters of Sigma Delta Chi sorority. Additional collegiate chapters were established and all members met at a convention. As the sorority grew, the national nature of Tri Sigma solidified with the standardization of a ceremony for new members and the creation of a program to celebrate the day that Sigma Sigma Sigma was founded, Founders Day.

Each initiated member receives the latest edition of Tri Sigma's story, The Years Remembered of Sigma Sigma Sigma, and The Path from Farmville, which chronicles the beginnings of each collegiate chapter as well as the evolution of the national organization. Members also receive a lifetime subscription to the national magazine of Sigma Sigma Sigma, The Triangle of Sigma Sigma Sigma, which is published three times a year.

The circle of friendship that began in the 1890s, with eight women sharing common experiences, now encompasses more than 100,000 women representing the diversity found on the college campuses of today. The growth and change that occurred in the many decades to follow always stayed true to the ideals of friendship espoused by the founders.

Mission and Values

Sigma Sigma Sigma exists to provide a lifelong sorority experience for women through ensuring a perpetual bond of friendship, developing a strong womanly character, and promoting high standards of ethical conduct.[2][3]


Tri Sigma Badge

The official colors are royal purple and white. The pearl was designated as the official jewel in 1909. The official flower is the purple violet, while the sailboat is the official symbol.

Tri Sigma's symbolism is a vital part of their teachings. The coat-of-arms came into use in 1902 and credit goes to Harriet Henkins, (Alpha) for its design. All the symbols on the shield may be used for jewelry, recognition pins, stationery, and formal clothing. Each symbol on the crest has significance. From the upper left to lower right is the "bar" or "band" displaying three Greek sigmas. Above the band in the right third are spreading wings joined by a centered circle, and above these is an equilateral triangle on which is engraved a single Sigma. Below the wings are clasped hands and in the lower left third is a flaming urn. On the banner below the shield are the words in Greek of the sorority's open motto, "Faithful Unto Death".

Adopted in 1903, the badge of the sorority is an equilateral gold triangle, with a small semi circular indentation on each side. On the gold triangle is a raised black enamel triangle bearing in each corner a gold sigma. In the center of the badge is the symbol of the sorority, the skull and crossed bones. On the outer edge of the badge is a border of pearls.[4]


The Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation is a non-profit corporation formed in 1992. The Foundation distributes funds for charitable, philanthropic, educational, and other benevolent purposes that focus its programs on the following categories: enhancing the leadership skills of modern-day women, providing grants and scholarships to students, and supporting play therapy programs for hospitalized children. The Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation centers its latter philanthropic efforts around the theme “Sigma Serves Children,” specifically through the Robbie Page Memorial (RPM).

On September 15, 1951, Robbie Page, the son of Tri Sigma’s National President, died of bulbar polio. At that time, there was no cure or prevention for polio. This prompted Robbie’s parents, Robert and Mary Hasting Holloway Page, to establish a memorial fund in honor of their son. Tri Sigma adopted the Robbie Page Memorial as its official philanthropy in 1954. In its early years, the RPM supported various polio research projects, including the Salk vaccine trials. The RPM now focuses on supporting play therapy for hospitalized children, and providing support for playrooms, libraries, and programs for children undergoing long-term hospital care. Current national efforts are centered in funding fellowships at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and in funding graduate assistantships at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The National Therapeutic Recreation Society has recognized Sigma Sigma Sigma for their gracious support of Child Life and Play Therapy Programs. In 2016, Sigma Sigma Sigma added the March of Dimes as a national philanthropic partner.

National Headquarters

Tri Sigma’s National Memorial Headquarters is located in Woodstock, Virginia at the Mabel Lee Walton House. Named after the sorority’s third National President, the Walton House serves as the main operations center of Tri Sigma, where day-to-day business is conducted. Walton House was acquired in 1963 and was purchased, furnished, and is maintained by the contributions of individual members, and the dues and fees of alumnae and collegiate chapters.

Tri Sigma Men

James Miller Leake, a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, is the only man permitted to wear the badge of the sorority and is counted as a member of Tri Sigma. His contributions to the sorority include drafting the constitution, and writing the initiation ritual. Though Leake is the only man counted as a member of the sorority, other members names are recorded with credit for assisting in the founding of the sorority. These include, three men from Kappa Sigma Fraternity at Hampden Sydney College, H.W. Cole, for assisting with the constitution, Garret G. Gooch and Robert Miller. Marvin Smithey (Kappa Alpha, brother of Nellie Smithey of the Alpha Chapter of Tri Sigma) offered legal services to secure the first charter.[4]

National Panhellenic Conference

The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is an organization which fosters strong interfraternity relationships, assists collegiate chapters, partners with colleges and universities in maintaining high scholastic and social standards, and provides structure for and ensures continuous growth of the Greek system. The conference comprises 26 national general sororities or women’s fraternities, which focus on service, education, scholarship programming and social activities. Sigma Sigma Sigma is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference[5] and has held the distinction of chairing the NPC once; Mary K. Barbee, Iota chapter, served as Chairman (the NPC’s highest leadership position) from 1981–1983.

National Presidents

  1. 1903–1908 Rhea Scott, Alpha chapter
  2. 1908–1913 Bess Brower Willis, Gamma chapter
  3. 1913–1947 Mabel Lee Walton, Gamma chapter
  4. 1947–1956 Mary Hastings Holloway Page Lovejoy, Alpha chapter
  5. 1956–1965 Margaret Freeman Dixon Everett, Sigma chapter
  6. 1965–1971 Nelda Francis Crawford, Alpha chapter
  7. 1971–1983 Helen Marie Eggert Snyder, Alpha Xi chapter
  8. 1983–1989 Mimi Brandt Hiner, Beta Xi chapter
  9. 1989–1995 Anne Buchler Williams, Gamma Eta chapter
  10. 1995–2001 Diana Hornick Sarber, Beta Mu chapter
  11. 2001–2004 Mary K. Barbee, Iota chapter
  12. 2004–2010 Laura Sweet, Alpha Sigma chapter
  13. 2010–2016 Kaye Schendel, Gamma Phi chapter
  14. 2016-Present Natalie Averette, Gamma Beta chapter

Notable alumnae

Name Original chapter Notability References
Krystle Kitchen Zeta Pi National American Miss Virginia 2006 [6]
Lauren Lee Psi Biggest Loser, Season 13
Billie Letts Beta Xi Author of Where the Heart Is
Mary Rhodes Russell Mu Supreme Court of Missouri Judge
Carrie Underwood Alpha Iota Winner of American Idol season four [7]
Lauren Bilski Alpha Delta Miss Philadelphia 2012
Emily Boissonneault Beta Tau Canadian National Lacrosse Team
Valerie Gatto Beta Theta Miss Pennsylvania 2014
Jennifer Gray Alpha Zeta CNN Meteorologist



Map of Tri Sigma Conventions


  1. Taken from NT, Rev.2,10.
  2. "Tri Sigma". Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  3. "Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority". Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority. Archived from the original on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  4. 1 2 McGraw, Marylin (2011). Sigma Sigma Sigma, Over a Century of Sisterhood. Maury Boyd and Associates. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
  5. "Tri Sigma". Retrieved 2012-09-13.
  6. "Press Release" (PDF). Triangle. Retrieved December 6, 2007.
  7. "Carrie Underwood has her town talking". MSNBC. May 9, 2005. Retrieved 2007-10-12.

Further reading

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