Sigma Sigma Sigma (Tri Sigma)
In the 1890s, the State Female Normal School (now Longwood University) in Farmville, Virginia, was the first in the state to open its doors to educate women seeking to become teachers. This was a highly contested topic at the time, and the women who dared enroll in school were often met with harassment and insults, making them a particularly determined lot who knew the value of hard work in the face of adversity. Eight of these students – Margaret Batten, Louise Davis, Martha Trent Featherston, Isabella Merrick, Sallie Michie, Lelia Scott, Elizabeth Watkins, and Lucy Wright – formed a close bond while studying together for their future as teachers. They wished to formalize that bond, as well as welcome others into their sisterhood, and so these eight women began meeting as the S.S.S. Club in 1897. As their organization gained a foothold on campus, more and more intrepid young women wished to join their ranks, and on April 20, 1898, these women officially announced the founding of the Greek letter society known as Sigma Sigma Sigma (Tri Sigma).
Since its founding over a century ago, Tri Sigma has grown into an admirable women's organization laying claim to over 4,200 undergraduate members and 104 active chapters. Among the countless women who have been members of the sorority, many have sought to lead lives that would make the founders proud throught their strength and determination in the face of adversity. Of these honorable women, many have gone on to truly excell in their chosen fields, such as Linda Denham (creator of Care Bears), Billie Letts (author, Where the Heart Is), Mary Rhodes Russell (judge, Supreme Court of Missiouri), and Carrie Underwood (country western singer, winner of Ameircan Idol season 4). With Sistrs like these, no wonder so many women want to wear the Tri Sigma Royal Purple and Pure White.
On September 15, 1951, Robbie Page, the son of Tri Sigma’s National President, died of bulbar polio, because unfortunately, at that time, there was no cure or prevention for the disease. This prompted Robbie’s parents, Robert and Mary Hasting Holloway Page, to establish a memorial fund in honor of their son, and soon after in 1954, Tri Sigma adopted the Robbie Page Memorial (RPM) as its official philanthropy. In its early years, the RPM supported various polio research projects, including the Salk vaccine trials. The RPM now focuses on supporting play therapy for hospitalized children and providing support for playrooms, libraries, and programs for children undergoing long-term hospital care. The National Therapeutic Recreation Society has recognized Sigma Sigma Sigma for their dedicated and on-going support of Child Life and Play Therapy Programs.
From its very beginnings, Sigma Sigma Sigma has existed to provide a lifelong experience for women, ensuring a perpetual bond of friendship, developing strong womanly character, and promoting high standards of ethical conduct. Many may consider sororities merely a college pasttime, but Tri Sigma knows that the bonds of true sisterhood last long past graduation day, hence their motto: Faithful Unto Death. As members, the Sisters of Tri Sigma hold true to the values of the founders throughout their lives, making themselves, their families, and their communities all the better for it.