ESTABLISHED ON NOVEMBER 12, 1922
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was organized on November 12, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana, by seven young educators: Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside, Vivian Irene White Marbury, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Hattie Mae Annette Dulin Redford, Bessie Mae Downey Rhoades Martin, and Cubena McClure. The group became an incorporated national collegiate sorority on December 30, 1929, when a charter was granted to the Alpha chapter at Butler University. Since its inception, the dynamic women of Sigma Gamma Rho have built and sustained a well-known and well-respected reputation for leading positive change to help uplift the community through sisterhood, leadership, and service.
Sigma Gamma Rho has welcomed more than 100,000 collegiate and professional women from every profession. The sorority has more than 500 chapters in the United States, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, South Korea, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the United Arab Emirates. The organization also has active affiliate groups devoted to empowering women at different stages in life. The Rhoer Club Affiliates (teenage girls) and Philos Affiliates (friends of the sorority) also assist alumnae chapters with various service efforts and programs.
Sigma Gamma Rho’s commitment to service is expressed in its slogan, “Greater Service, Greater Progress.” The sorority has a proud history of providing positive and proactive community outreach nationally and internationally. The programs, partnerships, and sponsorships represent Sigma Gamma Rho’s commitment to promoting the greater good in education, service, and leadership development. In 2004, the National Headquarters moved from Chicago, Illinois to its current home in Cary, North Carolina. Sigma women are dedicated to helping each other and their personal success is recognized in The AURORA and through various awards.
MARY LOU ALLISON GARDNER LITTLE
At the young age of three, Little suffered the tragic loss of both her parents and was then raised by a family friend. 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 at UCLA. She taught in the Los Angeles school system until her retirement in 1967. In her honor, the Mary Lou Allison Loving Cup Award is presented at each Boule to the chapter reporting the most successful program.
DOROTHY HANLEY WHITESIDE
Whiteside graduated from Shortridge High School and entered the Indianapolis Normal School in 1922. During her training as a cadet teacher, she met the teachers who became her best friends and fellow founders of the sorority. In 1951, she retired from teaching and later assisted her husband in developing 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; subsequently returning to teaching in 1959 before retiring again in 1970.
VIVIAN IRENE WHITE MARBURY
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, Indianapolis University, Indianapolis State University and serving as Director of Practice Training of teachers from Butler University. She served as Principal of Indianapolis Public School #87 for 39 years. She was an active member and leader in her church and several local organizations.
NANNIE MAE GAHN JOHNSON
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.
HATTIE MAE ANNETTE DULIN REDFORD
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 her sorority service. Plaques are awarded in Redford's name at each Boule for exhibits of chapter achievements.
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, unfortunately, illness prevented her from accepting the scholarship. McClure was talented in art and she helped to design the Sorority pin. She died very young on August 24, 1924.
BESSIE MAE DOWNEY RHOADES MARTIN
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 School. Martin taught school for over 25 years. She married twice and was a devoted wife, educator, and engaged founder.