National History

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was organized on November 12, 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana by seven young educators: Mary Lou Allison Little, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside, Vivian White Marbury, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Hattie Mae Dulin Redford, Bessie M. Downey Martin and Cubena McClure. 

Our Mission: "To enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and education of youth are the hallmark of the organization's programs and activities. Sigma Gamma Rho addresses concerns that impact society educationally, civically, and economically."

Founder Mary Lou Allison Little would serve as acting Grand Basileus from 1922-1925 and go on to become the first elected Grand Basileus of the Sorority from 1925-1926.

On August 24, 1924, Sigma suffered a great loss when Founder Cubena McClure, a young talented artist who designed the Sorority pin, passed away.  The remaining Founders carried on and the group became an incorporated national collegiate sorority on December 30, 1929, when a charter was granted to Alpha chapter at Butler University.  

The sorority had its beginnings on the Irvington campus of Butler University. Today, a commemorative stained glass window is located just outside the tower room at the south end of Atherton Union, as well as decorative bricks on the right side of Atherton.*

In 1937, the Sorority became a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.  It would be the only Sorority of NPHC to be founded on a predominantly white campus, rather than at a historically black college or university.  



From seven young educators, Sigma Gamma Rho has become an international service organization comprised of women from every profession. Sigma Gamma Rho offers its members opportunities to develop their unique talents through leadership training and involvement in sorority activities. Sorority activities provide an atmosphere where friendships and professional contacts are developed which often lead to bonds that last a lifetime.



In a time when education for African Americans was difficult to attain, the founders of Sigma Gamma Rho became educators. They believed that the self-respect, knowledge and discipline gained through study would help individuals to recognize their duty and responsibility for their society. Thus, Sigma Gamma Rho was founded on the precept of education and continues to promote and encourage high scholastic attainment.