It was 87 years ago today ~ November 12, 1922 ~ that 7 close friends and school teachers decided to band together to establish an organization that would benefit women of like minds, most of whom were pursuing careers in the field of education. Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated was the last of the female Black Greek Letter organizations to be founded in the early 1900’s that became a part of the National Panhellenic Council.
Here is just a little history about our founders:
Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little
Little was raised by her family friend because both of her parents were killed when she was three. 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 in UCLA. She taught in the Los Angeles school sytem until her retirement in 1967. The Mary Lou Allison Loving Cup Award is presented at each Boule to the chapter reporting the most successful program.
It should be noted that Soror Little was the primary founder of Sigma Gamma Rho. Without her…no telling! I’ll also add that I attended her home going ceremony @ Angeles Funeral Home in 1992.
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.
Vivian 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, Director of Practice Training of teachers from Butler University, Indianapolis University and Indianapolis State University. She taught in the Indianapolis school system for nine years.
As an aside, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of befriending Soror Marbury while she lived. I would call her frequently and we would just talk and talk. I’d ask her if she was tired of me and she would answer, “No baby…the question is, are you getting tired of me.” She filled a void for me…one of a grandmother (that I’d never known). She died in July of 2000. We had lost contact with one another but I will never forget the time we spent sharing about this and that. What a wonderful experience.
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. Martin taught school for over 25 years. She married twice and was a devoted wife and hard worker in school and the Sorority.
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, but due to illness she could not accept the scholarship. McClure was talented in art and she helped to design the Sorority pin. She died very young on August 24, 1924.
Hattie Mae 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 the sorority. Plaques are awarded in Redford’s name at each Boule for exhibits for chapter achievements.
Dorothy Hanley Whiteside
Whiteside graduated from Shortridge High School and entered the Indianapolis Normal School in 1922, when in training as a cadet teacher she met the teachers who became her best friends and Founders of the Sorority. She taught school until 1951 when she retired and later helped her husband to develop 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 and returned to teaching in 1959 where she remained until her retirement in 1970.
I’m proud to have pledged Sigma Gamma Rho. It was the organization that suited me best. I am grateful for every experience had and to be gained. I learned HOW to be a sister and the power of teamwork. What an invaluable lesson.