The Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority was founded on November 4, 1899, at what was then Michigan State Normal College, a teachers college in Ypsilanti. Back then, the sorority movement was just starting to sweep the country. Our Founders Helene M. Rice, Mayene Tracy, Adriance Rice, Eva O’Keefe, May Gephart, Mabel Chase, Ruth Dutcher, and Harriet Marx saw an opportunity for women to engage and grow together as Sisters. Their legacy – Alpha Chapter – is still thriving at what is now known as Eastern Michigan University.
From our beginnings in 1899 to today, we are proud to have continually promoted the ethical, cultural, social, and professional development of our members. The Sorority invests in women by instilling the skills necessary to navigate life, and inspires members to enrich their own lives and the lives of others. Like our Founders, we strive to empower women to excel in every way.
Our Founders, and the trailblazing women who followed, spent the first 10 years of Alpha Sigma Tau’s history laying the bedrock for a national organization.
In April 1905, the Beta Chapter was founded at another teachers college, Central Michigan Normal School (now Central Michigan University) in Mt. Pleasant. Additional chapters were soon established, and by April 1926, the Sorority was large enough to capture the attention of the Association of Education Sororities (AES), a national umbrella group for sororities at teachers colleges. We joined AES that year, and have been a truly national organization ever since, maintaining a robust presence at colleges and universities across the country.
Alpha Sigma Tau’s first National Convention was held in 1925 in Detroit, Michigan, where the Sorority’s member magazine, The Anchor, was first launched.
In 1945, Alpha Sigma Tau launched its first National Philanthropy with Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County, Kentucky. The long-running partnership lasted 71 years (until 2016). Generations of Alpha Sigma Taus supported the school’s mission of teaching basic trade skills and, later, environmental sustainability. Also, later during that same period, the Sorority’s National Service Project Partner was Habitat for Humanity.
Building a Movement
The second half of the twentieth century was a period of even greater sustained growth for Alpha Sigma Tau, cementing its place as a national sorority and movement.
In December 1951, the AES merged with the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), and Alpha Sigma Tau began a long and fruitful partnership with NPC that continues to this day.
In 1982, the Alpha Sigma Tau National Foundation was founded to promote and expand the educational and charitable activities of the Sorority. This opened up additional sources of donations and other resources that the Sorority used to grow, thrive, and most importantly, empower and enrich the lives of members. Today, programs like our innovative member development program Illuminate are only possible because of the financial support of the Foundation and its donors. Other key programs supported by the Foundation and its donors include programming at Officer Academy and National Convention, college safety and wellness programs like Not Anymore, and scholarships that members of all ages use to continue their educations.
In 1995, Alpha Sigma Tau established a National Headquarters office in Birmingham, Alabama, after having a Central Office in St. Louis and other locations.
Sisterhood for the Twenty-first Century
Largely run by volunteers for most of its history, Alpha Sigma Tau spent the first years of the twenty-first century enhancing its national operations.
In 2009, the National Headquarters moved from Birmingham, Alabama, to its current home in Indianapolis, Indiana. There, a team of more than 20 professionals work daily to deliver services and support to collegiate and alumnae members and volunteers.
Today, as throughout our history, the women of Alpha Sigma Tau continue to form lasting bonds of Sisterhood that carry on throughout life.
Today, the Sorority’s programs and service projects continue to enrich the lives of many, allowing our Sisters to, as our Creed says, contribute our share to the progress of mankind. For example, Alpha Sigma Tau’s National Philanthropy, the Women’s Wellness Initiative, empowers women to improve wellness in their communities through service activities and projects.
Today, as always, we seek new members who aspire to lifelong friendship grounded in shared values to join our Sisterhood, and enrich their own lives and the lives of others.