National Supreme Council
In 1913, when college was primarily for wealthy men,
academic women were a new breed and skirt lengths were no higher than
six inches above the floor. In this climate, ten Hunter High School lunch mates, committed to strength in friendship and the act of giving,
founded Phi Sigma Sigma at Hunter College in New York City.
The Founders of Phi Sigma Sigma came from a variety of
religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. They wished to stay together
as the group they had become while still in high school, but found
that because of their varied backgrounds they all could not join one
of the existing sororities on campus. Lillian Gordon, Ethel Gordon,
Josephine Ellison, Shirley Cohen, Fay Chertkoff, Claire Wunder,
Estelle Melnick, Rose Sher, Jeanette Lipka and Gwen "Rae"
Zaliels approached Dean Higgenbottem, the Dean of Women at Hunter
College, and inquired about starting their own sorority, one that
would promote open membership to all women of character regardless of
Under the leadership of Fay
Chertkoff, the first
Archon of Alpha Chapter, the Founders obtained permission and Phi
Sigma Sigma was born on November 26, 1913, quietly, unobtrusively, and
without thought of expansion. Phi Sigma Sigma was the first
non-sectarian sorority, the only one open to diverse membership from
its inception with a ritual not based in scripture. First in the minds
of these ten women were the twin ideals which endure today. To the
brotherhood of man and the alleviation of the world's pain, each
Founder extended herself to her fullest capacity to live up to the
mottoes the group chose.
For five years, Alpha chapter was content to continue
locally without thought of expansion. Then a friend of Rose Sher
Seidman who attended Tufts College contacted Rose with interest in the
sorority. The thought of expansion not only became an idea, but a
reality. In 1918, the Founders installed Beta chapter at Tufts College
and Gamma chapter at New York University. The year 1918 also saw the
first national convention, held in New York City, at which Fay
Chertkoff was elected as the first Grand Archon of Phi Sigma Sigma.
This laid the foundation and planted the seeds which
enabled Phi Sigma Sigma to grow and blossom into a garden of roses
spread across North America and Canada. Clearly, as Phi Sigma Sigma
prospers today, the Fraternity is as meaningful and exciting as it was
on the day it was founded.
The Theta Chi chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma was originally a local
sorority that was called Sigma Omega Chi. It existed at CSU Sacramento
since 1991. In the spring of 1997, the active sisters of Sigma Omega
Chi ultimately decided on Phi Sigma Sigma as the best choice for
expansion of the current sisterhood of Sigma Omega Chi. On December 7,
1997. the 42 founding sisters were officially installed as the Theta
Chi Chapter. On January 24, 1998 Sigma Omega Chi Alumni were initiated
as Phi Sigma Sigma Alumni.
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