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Five Founders
Sigma Kappa's Five Founders

National History

Sigma Kappa Sorority was founded at Colby College in Waterville, Maine on November 9, 1874. Colby College was the first college in New England to admit women on an equal basis with men students. The first woman student was admitted in 1871, and for two years Mary Caffrey Low was the only woman student at Colby College. In 1873, four more young women from Maine, Elizabeth Gorham Hoag, Ida Fuller, Frances Mann and Louise Helen Coburn were admitted to Colby and the five young women found themselves together frequently. During the school year of 1873-74, the five young women decided to form a literary and social society. They were told by the college administration that they needed to present a constitution and bylaws with a petition requesting permission to form Sigma Kappa Sorority. Their purpose at the outset was that the sorority should become what it is now, a national organization of college women. On November 9, 1874, the five young women received a letter from the faculty approving their petition.

In our first consitution, chapter membership was limited to 25. The original group was know as Alpha chapter and as our sorority grew, Beta chpter and Gamma chapter were also established at Colby College. Early records indicate that the groups met together; but in 1893, the Sigma Kappa members voted to fill Alpha chapter to the limit of 25 and to initiate no more into Beta and Gamma chapters. Eventually, the second and thrid chapters would vanish from Colby campus. Finally Sigma Kappas realized if the organization was going to continue to grow, it had to expand beyond the walls of Colby College.

In 1904, Delta chapter was installed at Boston University. Elydia Foss of Alpha chapter had transferred to Boston and met a group of women who refused to join any of the other groups on campus. Elydia took the necessary steps to make Sigma Kappa a national sorority and it was incorporated in the state of Maine on April 19, 1904. Their new status as a national sorority made Sigma Kappa eligible to join the National Panhellenic Conference.

Alpha Phi Chapter History

The Alpha Phi chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority was founded on the University of Oregon campus on April 28, 1928. There were 21 college and 13 alumnae charter members. The group originally organized as the local sorority Sigma Beta Phi in 1923. The original Sigma Kappa house was built in 1930 and is now being used by the University of Oregon College of Education. In 1949, the current Sigma Kappa house was built, right in the heart of Greek Row.

Due to anti-Greek sentiments and political turmoil in the 1970s, interest in sorority membership declined and in 1982, the Alpha Phi chapter voted to close. Fortunately, in 1990, we recolonized and we were able to move back into the house we had left 8 years earlier. We still have the original grand piano in our living room. Sigma Kappa is one of nine sororities on the University of Oregon campus.

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