Beta Sigma Phi
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|*Beta Sigma Phi|
|Founded||April 30, 1931
United States, Germany, Canada, Zimbabwe
|Motto||Life, Learning and Friendship|
|Headquarters||1800 W. 91st Place
Kansas City, Missouri 64114, USA
Beta Sigma Phi International (ΒΣΦ) is a non-academic sorority with 200,000 members in chapters around the world. Founded in Abilene, Kansas, in 1931 by Walter W. Ross, the organization has spread to every state of the United States, to every Canadian province, and to 30 other countries. The sorority was founded for the social, cultural, and civic enrichment of its members. Members have donated approximately $1 million to medical research and treatment through The Endowment Fund.
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Beta Sigma Phi is primarily a social and cultural organization that incorporates service as part of its activities. The motto for Beta Sigma Phi is Life, Learning and Friendship. Service is done locally and internationally and is a tribute to the character of the members. The cultural programs are important in Beta Sigma Phi. They are the basic element of the organization. Through these programs each member is encouraged to grow personally, while at the same time participating in the growth of her sisters. They are designed to broaden personal knowledge and understanding of self, friends, and the world. As a member of Beta Sigma Phi it is in our nature not only to give the best that is in us to ourselves and our sorority, but to give the best that is in us to our world.
In April 1932 Beta Sigma Phi was incorporated under a charter granted by the state of Missouri. Today, Beta Sigma Phi is a nonprofit corporation which maintains a contract with Walter W. Ross & Company for complete business management of all its affairs. In addition to the International Constitution each chapter composes its own set of bylaws. The Torch is the official magazine of Beta Sigma Phi and has grown from a four-page bulletin to a magazine of thirty-two pages which publishes stories and poems by members, personality sketches of its International Honorary Members and others, runs contests for short stories, and poetry. The Torch continues to provide a connecting link between active members, all of whom receive it as a part of their membership. It is an important source of information about the organization.
The organization had started out with the unlikely name, "The National ‘What to Read’ Club." But when Walter Ross, the founder of Beta Sigma Phi, took his dream to Vinita, Oklahoma, the first of many encounters took place. Leona Schroers was the librarian in Vinita and she agreed to help with the establishment of a chapter in her town. She also gave Ross an introduction to Sally Rogers McSpadden, sister of the famous humorist Will Rogers. McSpadden was considered a community leader, who was active in the Oklahoma Federation of Women's Clubs, as well as other women's volunteer organizations . McSpadden soon convinced Walter Ross that the organization should be changed from an association to its present form and that the name must really be changed. With her suggestions and Schroers’ assistance, a new framework for the organization was developed and the Greek letter name grew out of the motto chosen for the sorority. The letters, "Beta," "Sigma," and "Phi" were the first letters of the Greek words for life, learning, and friendship.
Facts about Beta Sigma Phi
- Beta Sigma Phi initiated its 1,000,000th member in 1995
- Beta Sigma Phi is primarily social. While many chapters may indeed do community service work, there is no requirement to do so.
- Beta Sigma Phi has yearly state conventions.
- Each year, the sorority has a new theme. The 2015-2016 theme is "Your Forever Friends". New themes are chosen each Founder's Day, April 30.
- Beta Sigma Phi's earn progressive degrees of membership. There is the Nu Phi Mu, Ritual of Jewels, Exemplar, Preceptor, Laureate, Master and Torchbearer Degrees.
- The Beta Sigma Phi Badge is usually a large enamel Phi with the Greek letters Beta and Sigma engraved on the left and right respectively. The top of the Phi may resemble a torch. The background that the Beta and Sigma rest on has different colors according to degree. Ritual of Jewels is black, Exemplar is white, Preceptor is blue, Laureate is green, Master is red and Torchbearer is purple.
- Most chapters are community based, but Beta Sigma Phi has chapters on college campuses, although college is not a requirement to join. In addition and separately, there are several on-line chapters.
- The official magazine is called "The Torch of Beta Sigma Phi"
Notable and honorary members
- Sarah Ophelia Cannon aka Minnie Pearl
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Pat Nixon
- Nancy Reagan
- Barbara Bush
- Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Elizabeth Dole
- Anne Fisher
- Rosalynn Carter
- Louise Faulkner
- Joan Fontaine
- Debbie Reynolds
- Olympia Snowe
- Senator Muriel Humphrey
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver
- Ruth Warrick
- Lillian Carter
- Mrs. Barry Goldwater
- Agnes Moorehead
- Grandma Moses
- Ginger Rogers
- Rosalind Russell
- Sue Scott
- Margaret Chase Smith
- Mrs. Spencer Tracy
- Vera Ford
- Earlene Fowler
- International Endowment Fund - (health research groups & charities.)
- Disaster Relief Fund - (aids members who are victims of natural disasters.)
- Breast Cancer Research Fund - (supports research organizations.)
- Scholarship Fund - (awards scholarships to members, their children and grandchildren.)
- Official site
- Beta Sigma Phi International Sorority 75th Anniversary
- Elva M. Chandler papers at Hagley Museum and Library. Elva Chandler was a charter member of Beta Sigma Phi. This collection has records from National Beta Sigma Phi (1937-1974); Middle Eastern Council of Beta Sigma Phi (1935-1978); Wilmington City Council of Beta Sigma Phi (1934-1977); Delaware Chapters of Beta Sigma Phi (1934-1972); personal correspondence related to Beta Sigma Phi (1936-1940); and Nu Phi Mu (1945-1953), a sister organization for younger women interested in Beta Sigma Phi. The collection documents national rituals, programs, and degrees, such as the Pledge Ritual, the Ritual of Jewels, and a ritual to honor a deceased sister; fund-raising efforts; periodic announcements from the national president and other officers; and records from regional, state, and local chapters. At some point for many of these chapters, Elva served as president.