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Sigma Kappa Sorority Records

 Collection
Call Number: UA205

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the records of the Omicron chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority, active at Tufts University from 1913 through 1956. The records mainly document the administrative functioning of the sorority chapter. Included are: meeting minutes; budgetary and other bureaucratic forms, including documents such as initiation forms, yearly dues forms, and chapter reports; correspondence with the national office and alumnae; publications, including handbooks and songbooks as well as books given to the sorority; and part of a tea set used by sorority members. The bulk of the material dates to 1933-1956. In 1956 the sorority was disbanded, likely for pledging two Black students, and the former members formed the organization Thalia in its place, an evolution documented in these records.

Dates

  • 1895 -- 1956

Creator

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access

This collection is open for research. It it fragile in places, and may require careful handling. Please contact DCA for further details.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection suffered some mold and mildew damage prior to its transfer to DCA. It underwent conservation efforts, but some materials remain discolored and may have a musty odor. Some items are fragile, and should be handled carefully.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in three series: Records; Publications; and Artifacts.

Related Materials

Charles Trantanella Papers on Greek Life at Tufts, circa 2010 -- 2022. Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA 02155.

Extent

1.2 Linear Feet (1 box)

Biographical / Historical

The Omicron chapter of Sigma Kappa Sorority was founded at Jackson College in 1913. The sorority was committed to various service projects (including, as of 1956, tri-weekly volunteering at local community centers) and held social events including parties, coffees, luncheons, and bridge clubs. Lilian M. Perkins, member of the Tufts Omicron chapter, published a poetry anthology (Brave Maroon) for the national organization’s sixtieth anniversary in 1936, and in 1950, also wrote and published History of Sigma Kappa 1872-1949.

During the summer of 1956, the Omicron chapter was disbanded by the national Sigma Kappa sorority for pledging two Black students, Terrie Williams Schachter and Eleanor Turpin Murrell, in spring 1956. At the time of its disbanding, Sigma Kappa had 45 members and 650 alumnae. The National Council’s decision to revoke the sorority’s charter was done by unanimous vote, and while no reason was officially given, a chapter at Cornell University also had its charter revoked in a similar manner after trying to pledge a Black student the same spring. The incident launched an inquiry by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Committee on Education into the practices of Sigma Kappa National.

In October of 1956, the former members of the Omicron chapter changed the sorority’s name to Thalia, which had a presence on the Tufts campus until 1960.

Processing status

This collection has been processed.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by archives assistant Elisa Sturkie under the supervision of Collections Management Archivist Adrienne Pruitt in Spring 2019. Materials were treated for mold in Spring 2018 by Polygon Corporation.

In April 2021 this finding aid was reviewed for offensive description by Collections Management Archivist Adrienne Pruitt. The word “Black” was capitalized when used to refer to an identity or race.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

Contact:
35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States
617-627-3737