Sigma Gamma Rho

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated (ΣΓΡ) is a historically African American Greek lettered sorority. ΣΓΡ was founded on November 12, 1922, at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana by seven young educators. It was incorporated within the state of Indiana in December 1922 and became a national collegiate sorority on December 30, 1929, when a charter was granted to the Alpha chapter.

Sigma Gamma Rho
FoundedNovember 12, 1922; 97 years ago (1922-11-12)
Butler University
Indianapolis, Indiana
EmphasisScholarship, Sisterhood and Service
ScopeInternational: USA, Germany,
Canada, Bermuda, Korea,
Virgin Islands, the Bahamas
SloganGreater Service, Greater Progress
Colors  Royal Blue
FlowerYellow Tea Rose
NicknamesSGRhos, Lady Sigmas, Sigma Women, Pretty Poodles
Headquarters1000 Southhill Drive, Suite 200
Cary, North Carolina

The sorority is a non-profit whose aim is to enhance the quality of life within the community. Public service, leadership development and the education of youth are the hallmark of the organization's programs and activities.

Founded in the midst of segregation, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. is the only sorority of the four historically African-American National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) sororities established at a predominantly white campus.

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has over 100,000 members with more than 500 undergraduate and alumnae chapters throughout the United States, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Canada, and Korea. Women may join through undergraduate chapters at a college or university, or through an alumnae chapter after earning a college degree. Sigma Gamma Rho also supports two affiliates: youth group of young women called the Rhoers and the Philos, women who are friends of the sorority.

The foundersEdit

Dorothy Whiteside, Vivian White Marbury, Nannie M. Johnson, Hattie M. Redford and Mary Lou Little
  • Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little

Raised by a family friend because both of her parents were killed when she was three, Founder Little graduated from Shortridge High School in 1915 and received a diploma from the Indianapolis Normal School in 1918. She began her teaching career immediately after graduation. In 1928, Little moved to Los Angeles with her husband and finished her undergraduate training at UCLA. She taught in the Los Angeles School System until her retirement in 1967. The Mary Lou Allison Loving Cup Award is presented at each Boule to the chapter reporting the most successful program.[2]

  • Dorothy Hanley Whiteside

After graduating from Shortridge High School, Founder Whiteside entered the Indianapolis City Normal School. In 1922, when in training as a cadet teacher, she met the teachers who became her best friends and founders of Sigma Gamma Rho. Ms. Whiteside taught school until 1951 when she retired and later helped her husband to develop a business. She also started her own millinery business and worked with her church and various other organizations. After the death of her husband, she ran their business from 1955 until 1957 and returned to teaching in 1959, where she remained until her retirement in 1970.[2]

  • Vivian Irene White Marbury

Founder Marbury was born March 11, 1900. She attended Shortridge High School and the Indianapolis City Normal School. She earned her BS in Education from Butler University in June 1931 and her Master's from Columbia University in New York City. She was awarded the Butler Medal, the highest alumni honor at Butler University. Her professional career included teaching at Morehouse College in Atlanta and serving as Director of Practice Training of teachers from Butler University and Indianapolis State University. She taught in the Indianapolis School System for nine years. She organized Public School 87, which grew from a 4-room portable school to 18 rooms and 24 teachers, where she was principal for 48 years until her retirement in 1967. She married in 1929 and is the mother of two children. Founder Marbury died on July 29, 2000. She was the last of the seven founders to join Omega Rho. [2]

  • Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson

Founder Johnson was born on June 20, 1904, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She received her BS in 1932 and her MS in 1941 from Butler University. She started as a teacher in 1923 and was eventually promoted to principal of one of the largest elementary schools in Indianapolis at the time. She was also very involved with many clubs and organizations dedicated to community service. Ms. Johnson retired in 1966.[2]

  • Hattie Mae Annette Dulin Redford

A cum laude graduate of South Bend Central High School, Founder Redford continued her education to receive a B.S from Indiana State Teachers College and a M.S. from Butler University. She also studied at Western Reserve in Cleveland and Indiana University Extension. She taught one year in Terre Haute, and 37 years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was Grand Epistoleus, Grand Tamiochus, Financial Consultant and received various awards and honors from Sigma Gamma Rho. Plaques are awarded in Ms. Redford's name at each Boule for exhibits of chapter achievements.[2]

  • Bessie Mae Downey Rhoades Martin

Founder Martin was born on July 12, 1900. The youngest of six children, Ms. Martin attended grade school in Indianapolis. She graduated from the Manual Training High School and the City Teachers Normal. She earned her BS in Education from Butler University in June 1943. Ms. Martin taught at Indianapolis Public School 4 for over 25 years. She married twice and was a devoted wife and hard worker in school and the sorority.[2]

  • Cubena McClure

A graduate of Shortridge High School and the Indianapolis City Normal School, Founder McClure attended Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. She won the Gregg Scholarship which she planned to use to attend Columbia University, but due to illness, she could not accept the scholarship. McClure was talented in art and she helped to design the sorority pin. Ms. McClure died very young on August 24, 1924.[2][3]


Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. includes graduate and undergraduate women from a variety of fields. Membership in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., is by invitation only.

Notable hazing incidentsEdit

The New York Times wrote an article about two serious hazing incidents involving the sorority. In 2008, a pledge at San Jose State University, filed a civil suit against the sorority after being severely beaten, harassed, and threatened to keep the abuse a secret. Four sorority members were arrested and served 90 days in county jail. In 2010 at Rutgers University, six Sigma Gamma Rho women were arrested and charged with a felony after striking one pledge over 200 times which forced her to seek medical attention.[4]

Notable membersEdit

Television, film and radioEdit


  • Vanessa Bell Armstrong - Grammy-nominated gospel recording artist
  • Eva Jessye - first African-American woman to receive international distinction as a professional choral conductor, conducted choir at March on Washington, 1963
  • Maysa Leak - Grammy-nominated jazz singer
  • MC Lyte (born Lana Michele Moorer) - Hip-Hop recording artist
  • Kelly Price - Grammy-nominated R&B singer
  • Martha Reeves - R&B and Pop singer, former politician, former lead singer of the Motown girl group "Martha and the Vandellas"


Politics and governmentEdit

Service and activismEdit

Sports and athleticsEdit

  • Maritza Correia (McClendon) - 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist (swimming), first Puerto Rican of African descent in the US to set an American and World swimming record
  • Uhunoma Osazuwa - 2012 Olympic competitor (Women's Heptathlon), Nigerian track and field athlete
  • Renee Powell - Retired professional golfer; second African American woman to play on the LPGA tour.
  • Alia Atkinson - 3x Jamaican Olympian – World Champion 100m Breaststroke – World Record Holder
  • Sharrieffa Barksdale - 3x Olympian – President of USATF Athlete Alumni Association
  • Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace -2x Bahamian Olympian (swimming)
  • Carmelita Jeter - a three-time Olympic medallist.
  • Donna Orender, CEO of Orender Unlimited, former President of the WNBA.

Authors, journalists and writersEdit


  • Selena Sloan Butler - founder and first president of the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers Association (NCCPTA)
  • Julia Davis - educator and librarian in African American contributions to American History, (namesake of the Julia Davis branch of the St. Louis Public Library)

Business and lawEdit




  1. ^ "About".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g
  3. ^
  4. ^

External linksEdit