It was in the year 1876 that Henry Fowle Durant, the founder of Wellesley College, established the Society of Phi Sigma. Phi Sigma remains committed to enhancing the community of Wellesley College both socially and academically. We regularly host lectures and social events at which all Wellesley students are welcome and encouraged to attend. We are an independent organization supported by biannual membership dues and alumnae donations.
Founded as a literary society, Phi Sigma was the first society created at Wellesley. 1982 saw the revival and expansion of Phi Sigma to a lecture forum promoting public and cultural awareness. Phi Sigma is enthusiastic about serving the Wellesley community as a whole and is also committed to the close bond of friendship we share as a society. Phi Sigma sponsors lectures on campus both independently and in conjunction with other Wellesley groups.
Our varied interests contribute to the broad range of our lecture topics, from the political arena to the business world to the art scene. We seek to educate through our lectures. Our diverse membership contributes to the broad range of our events. We are an amalgamation of independent, enthusiastic, and dynamic individuals who challenge and support each other in our quest to maintain our history of excellence. We try not only to live up to Mr. Durant's expectations, but to exceed them; we also work to make our esteemed alumnae proud of our accomplishments.
In 1876, the founder of Wellesley College, Henry Fowle Durant, established Phi Sigma to foster a love for literature. Sixteen founding members, among them Katherine Lee Bates, met in the Fall of 1876 for the first time. Katherine Lee Bates wrote the Phi Sigma song and helped choose the shield and patron. Membership during this period and until 1918 was limited to Juniors and Seniors of high academic standing or distinguished public service in the college. When College Hall burned down in 1914, Phi Sigma raised money for restoration through its alumnae association. The letter sent to alumnae from Chairman Abbie Paige (1896) read, "We want to show that now, as always, Phi Sigma is banded together to work for the well being of the whole college."
In 1972, Phi Sigma disbanded due to lack of interest and its Alumnae Association established the Phi Sigma Society Fund for $10,000 to the Rare Books Department of the Wellesley College Library. Money from this fund was to be used for the purpose of "purchases, restoration, and maintenance of the collections and for providing opportunities for undergraduates to learn the practical arts of fine bookmaking, or for any other use the Rare Book Department deems important." The chapter house was given to the continuing education students.
In September of 1982, a proposal was made to the President of Wellesley College, Nannerl O. Keohane, to revive Phi Sigma. Seven students submitted a proposal to bring Phi Sigma back to Wellesley's campus not as a literature society, but as a lecture society. Today Phi Sigma membership varies from semester to semester, reaching a maximum capacity of forty members.
Phi Sigma Facts
Motto: "Prove all things; forever hold fast to the good."
The Four Pillars: Lecture, Passions, Siblinghood and Social
Patron: Athena, goddess of female arts and industry
Shield: Made of Pearls and Black Opal
Colors: Wine and Silver