Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was organized on November 12, 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana by seven young educators: Mary Lou Little, Dorothy Whiteside, Vivian Marbury, Nannie Johnson, Hattie Mae Redford, Bessie M. Martin and Cubena McClure. The group became an incorporated national collegiate sorority on December 30, 1929, when a charter was granted to Alpha chapter at Butler University.
Soaring to greater heights of attainment around the World, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., as a leading national service organization, has met the challenges of the day and continues to grow through Sisterhood, Scholarship and Service. Currently there are over 90,000 ladies of Sigma Gamma Rho in more than 400 chapters internationally. The sorority’s national programs focus on educational, economic, health, and social issues that affect our communities across the nation and abroad.
Sigma Gamma Rho’s commitment to service is expressed in its slogan, “Greater Service, Greater Progress.” The sorority has a proud history of offering service wherever chapters exist, including OPERATION Big Book Bag, a program designed to address the needs, challenges and issues that face school-aged children who are educationally at-risk in local homeless shelters and extended care hospitals. The objective is for chapters to provide their local homeless shelters and children hospitals with educational materials, equipment and supplies. Other national projects include Wee Savers, Project Reassurance and Habitat for Humanity for which, Sigma Gamma Rho built seven homes across the United States in Florida, District of Columbia, Wisconsin, California, and Texas.
The service of Sigma Gamma Rho from a global perspective includes Project Africa and Project Mwanamugimu. Through active participation in programs and through networking with other organizations such as the National Council of Negro Women, Urban League and the NAACP, Sigma’s legacy of service to improve the quality of life for all mankind continues.
Soror Mary Lou Little
Mary Lou Little was raised by her family friend because both of her parents were killed when she was three. She graduated from Shortridge High School in 1915 and received a diploma from the Indianapolis Normal School in 1918 when she began teaching. In 1928, Little moved to Los Angeles with her husband and finished her undergraduate training in UCLA. She taught in the Los Angeles school sytem 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.
Soror Dorothy Whiteside
Dorothy Whiteside graduated from Shortridge High School and entered the Indianapolis Normal School in 1922. While training as a cadet teacher she met the teachers who became her best friends and Founders of the Sorority. She 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 organizations. After the death of her husband, she ran their business from 1955-1957 and returned to teaching in 1959 where she remained until her retirement in 1970.
Soror Vivian Marbury
Vivian Marbury attended Shortridge High School and the Indianapolis Normal School. She received a B.S. from Butler University and a Master’s from Columbia University in New York city. Her professional career included teaching at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Director of Practice Training of teachers from Butler University, Indianapolis University and Indianapolis State University. She taught in the Indianapolis school system for nine years.
Soror Nannie Johnson
Nannie Johnson was a product of the Indianapolis Public School System and received both B.S. and M.S. degrees from Butler University. In 1923, she received her first teaching assignment and over the years she was promoted to principal of one of the largest elementary schools in Indianapolis. She was also very involved with many clubs and organizations dedicated to community service and retired in 1966.
Soror Hattie Redford
Hattie Redford graduated from South Bend Central High School cum laude, from Indiana State Teachers College with a B.S., and studied at Western Reserve in Cleveland and Indiana University extension. She taught one year in Terra Haute, and thirty-seven years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was Grand Epistoleus, Grand Tamiochus, Financial Consultant and received various awards and honors for the sorority. Plaques are awarded in Redford’s name at each Boule for exhibits for chapter achievements.
Soror Bessie Martin
Bessie Martin was the youngest of six children and attended grade school in Indianapolis. She graduated from the Manual training High School and the City Teachers Normal. Martin taught school for over 25 years. She married twice and was a devoted wife and hard worker in school and the Sorority.
Soror Cubena McClure
Cubena McClure graduated from Shortridge High School, the Indianapolis City Normal School and attended Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. She died very young on August 24, 1924.
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