Sigma Phi
Sigma Phi Society
FoundedMarch 4, 1827; 196 years ago (March 4, 1827)
Union College
ScopeUnited States
Mottoesto perpetua
let it be perpetual
Colors  Azure   Argent
PublicationThe Flame
HeadquartersP.O. Box 57417
Tucson, AZ 85732-7417
United States

The Sigma Phi Society (ΣΦ) was founded in 1827 at Union College. It was the second Greek fraternal organization founded in the United States and the first to establish a chapter at another college, making it the first national Greek organization.[1]


The Sigma Phi Society (ΣΦ) was founded on March 4, 1827, on the campus of Union College as a part of the Union Triad in Schenectady, New York. Its founders were Samuel W. Beall, Thomas Fielder Bowie, Rev. R. H. Chapman, Hon. Charles T. Cromwell, George N. Porter, and Hon. Charles N. Rowley.[2]

The Alpha chapter of Sigma Phi at Union College has been in continuous operation since its founding, making it the oldest continuously running fraternity chapter in the United States.[3]

In 1831, Beta of New York was established at Hamilton College, making the society the first Greek fraternal organization in the United States to establish a chapter at another college. Thus, Sigma Phi Society is the first National Greek Organization in the United States.

The practices and rituals of the Sigma Phi Society are relatively unknown due to its establishment, and continued consideration, as a secret society.[1]

Sigma Phi is a founding member of the North American Interfraternity Conference.


The Sigma Phi badge is a monogram with a jeweled Σ directly over a Φ that is either plain or chased.[2] It was designed by Charles N. Rowley, founder of the Beta of New York chapter.[4] In 1879, Baird's stated that the badge was royal purple.[2] Since 1879, the badge has been produced mainly in gold. Some gold plated options have been made available and in 2024 three options were introduced; sterling silver, with a gold plating on top, with pearls for $150 base price engraved, 10k gold for $675 plus engraving, and in gold filled for $375, engraved. All the options include pearls as gems have been out of fashion for sometime now.


Chapters of Sigma Phi, with active chapters indicated in bold and inactive chapters indicated in italic:[5]

Chapter Chartered/Range Institution Location Status Reference
Alpha of New York (U) March 4, 1827 Union College Schenectady, New York Active
Beta of New York (H) 1831–2019 Hamilton College Clinton, New York Inactive [a]
Alpha of Massachusetts (W) 1834–1968 Williams College Williamstown, Massachusetts Inactive
Gamma of New York (N) March 4, 1836March 4, 1848 New York University New York City, New York Inactive [2]
Delta of New York (G) August 4, 1840-xxxx? Hobart College Geneva, New York Inactive
Alpha of Vermont (V) March 4, 1845 University of Vermont Burlington, Vermont Active
Alpha of New Jersey (P) 1853–1858 Princeton University Princeton, New Jersey Inactive [2][b]
Alpha of Michigan (M) 1858–2022 University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan Inactive [2][c][a]
Alpha of Pennsylvania (L) February 4, 1887–2002 Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Inactive
Epsilon of New York (C) October 4, 1890 Cornell University Ithaca, New York Active
Alpha of Wisconsin (F) October 31, 1908 University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison, Wisconsin Active
Alpha of California (I) September 7, 1912 University of California, Berkeley Berkley, California Active [a][d]
Alpha of Virginia (S) 1953 University of Virginia Charlottesville, Virginia Active
Alpha of North Carolina (T) 2008–2019 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, North Carolina Inactive


  1. ^ a b c Attempted, with little success, to include women in the chapter's membership.
  2. ^ Charter returned to the Convention of 1860 after the college banned fraternities.
  3. ^ Charter revoked.
  4. ^ Formed from the local social group La Junta Club.
Sigma Phi house at the University of Michigan, circa 1900 (now an inactive chapter, house no longer occupied by Sigma Phi)

Chapter houses

Some chapters own buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, such as the Thorsen House, owned by the Alpha of California chapter in Berkeley and designed by Greene and Greene.[1] The Alpha of Wisconsin chapter house is the Harold C. Bradley House, a National Historic Landmark designed in 1908 by Louis Sullivan.[6]

Sigma Phi Place, University of Vermont, 2022

Alpha of Vermont

The Alpha of Vermont chapter house, known as Sigma Phi Place, is a list contributing building to the National Register of Historic Places' University Green Historic District.[7] It was designed in 1903 by architect Marcus T. Reynolds of Albany, New York, who was a member of the Alpha of Massachusetts chapter.[7] Located at 420 College Street, Sigma Pi Place was the first purpose-built fraternity house at the University of Vermont.[7] It is a three-story, Colonial Revival style brick house.[7] Its main entrance has a gable pedimented portico with four columns that have Corinthian capitals.[7]

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Sigma Phi members

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Home". Sigma Phi Society. Retrieved 2023-01-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Baird, William Raimond (1879). Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities.
  3. ^ "What's The Oldest Continually-Running Fraternity Chapter In America?". Total Frat Move. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  4. ^ "Rowley, Charles N." 1829. January 1829 – via Union College.
  5. ^ Catalogue of the Sigma Phi: E.P.V. at Google Books
  6. ^ "Our house - Wisc". Sigma Phi Society. Retrieved 2023-01-15.
  7. ^ a b c d e National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for University Green Historic District. Revision, 2021.