History of Sigma Kappa Sorority
and the
Gamma Mu Chapter

Sigma Kappa
Gamma Mu


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Sigma Kappa Sorority
Last update: 1/29/2011
Designed by: Sigma Kappa's Webmaster


The History of Sigma Kappa: Colby College in Waterville, Maine, was the first college in New England to admit women on an equal basis with male students. The first female student was admitted in 1871, and for two years Mary Caffrey Low was the only female student at Colby College. In 1873, four more young women from Maine, Elizabeth Gorham Hoag, Ida Fuller, Frances Mann, and Louise Helen Coburn were admitted to Colby, and the five young women found themselves together frequently. During the 1873-74 school year, the five women decided to form a literary and social society. They were told by the college administration that they needed to present a constitution and bylaws with a petition requesting permission to form Sigma Kappa Sorority. They began working that year with an eager glow of enthusiasm. Their purpose at the outset was that the sorority should become what it is now, a national organization of college women. On November 9, 1874, the five young women received a letter from the faculty approving their petition. This date has since been considered our Founders' Day.


Symbols & Insignia:The symbols and insignia of Sigma Kappa are outward signs of the special feeling we have for each other that comes from within ourselves. Members of Sigma Kappa are obligated to uphold their high standards and ideals, remembering that Sigma Kappas all over the country are bound by the same tenets.

Colors: Louise Helen Coburn's early reminiscences give us her memory of white as the color favored in the early days of Sigma Kappa. She said that lavender and maroon, as our colors, occur in the minutes of June 1891. They were being used then and apparently had been approved earlier. A note in the minutes of 1904 speaks of a committee appointed to "write down the true significance" of our colors which is revealed in the ceremony of initiation.

Flower: Violets were loved by all Sigma Kappas from the beginning. The delicate flowers grew wild along the banks of the Messalonskee River where the founders sat and dreamed of Sigma Kappa. In June 1892, the violet was adopted as our official flower. The flower was thought to belong to the days of promise as is Sigma Kappa.

Symbols: The dove was accepted as an official symbol of Sigma Kappa at the 1984 convention and the heart was adopted at the 1988 convention. Both symbols signify the love felt by members across the country.

Coat-of-Arms: The Sigma Kappa coat-of-arms reflects the familiar symbols of the sorority - the dove, the violet, the Greek letters, and maroon and lavender. Adopted in 1911, the coat-of-arms consists of a maroon shield with a diagonal bar of gold, bearing five lavender stars; the lower portion a coiled serpent. Above is a wreath of alternate maroon and gold, surmounted by a dove in silver, with outspread wings, all beneath an arch of gold rays. Below is a scroll of silver, bearing in black the open motto and the date 1874. The significance of the coat-of-arms is revealed only during the ceremony of Initiation.