Sigma Sigma Sigma (ΣΣΣ), also known as Tri Sigma, is a national American women’s sorority with membership of more than 125,000 members. Sigma Sigma Sigma is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference and hosts chapters on more than 112 college campuses and over 90 alumnae chapters in communities all over the world.
In the 1890s, the State Female Normal School in Farmville, Virginia (now known as Longwood University) was the state’s first institution to open its doors to teacher education, at a time when higher education for women was a highly debated topic. Eight students (Margaret Batten, Louise Davis, Martha Trent Featherston, Isabella Merrick, Sallie Michie, Lelia Scott, Elizabeth Watkins, and Lucy Wright) formed a special bond while studying for their future teaching careers. Lelia Scott and Lucy Wright led the first meetings of their secret society, the S.S.S. Club, in 1897. On April 20, 1898, these women officially announced the founding of the Greek letter society known as Sigma Sigma Sigma.
At the same time, Lucy Wright’s roommate, Julia Tyler, worked to form Kappa Delta sorority. In the fall of 1898, Zeta Tau Alpha was founded, followed by the founding of Alpha Sigma Alpha in 1901. These four sororities were all founded at the State Female Normal School and were henceforth referred to as the Farmville Four.
In its first decade, Tri Sigma recognized the need for both legal recognition as a social body and a written record of organization. Therefore, they filed documents with the Commonwealth of Virginia and received their Charter of Incorporation on February 12, 1903. Tri Sigma's first constitution was adopted by its first chapter, the Alpha Chapter, in April 1903.
In the first decade since its inception, giant steps were taken in laying the groundwork of the sorority’s foundation. In 1915, Tri Sigma absorbed the two remaining chapters of Sigma Delta Chi sorority. Additional collegiate chapters were established and all members met at a convention. As the sorority grew, the national nature of Tri Sigma solidified with the standardization of a ceremony for new members and the creation of a program to celebrate the day that Sigma Sigma Sigma was founded, Founder's Day.
Each initiated member receives the latest edition of Tri Sigma's story, The Years Remembered of Sigma Sigma Sigma, and The Path from Farmville, which chronicles the beginnings of each collegiate chapter as well as the evolution of the national organization. Members also receive a lifetime subscription to the national magazine of Sigma Sigma Sigma, The Triangle of Sigma Sigma Sigma, which is published three times a year.
The circle of friendship that began in the 1890s, with eight women sharing common experiences, now encompasses more than 100,000 women representing the diversity found on the college campuses of today. The growth and change that occurred in the many decades to follow always stayed true to the ideals of friendship espoused by the founders.
Sigma Sigma Sigma exists to provide a lifelong sorority experience for women through ensuring a perpetual bond of friendship, developing a strong womanly character, and promoting high standards of ethical conduct. Tri Sigma's values are faith, hope, love, wisdom, and power.
We, the women of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, throughout our lives,
strive to steadfastly uphold our vows and cherish our bonds of sisterhood;
to become inspired leaders;
to support causes greater than ourselves;
to seek wisdom and joy;
and to live purposeful lives of integrity, faith, empathy, understanding and love.
Tri Sigma's symbolism is a vital part of their teachings. The coat-of-arms came into use in 1902 and credit goes to Harriet Henkins, (Alpha) for its design. All the symbols on the shield may be used for jewelry, recognition pins, stationery, and formal clothing. Each symbol on the crest has significance. From the upper left to lower right is the "bar" or "band" displaying three Greek sigmas. Above the band in the right third are spreading wings joined by a centered circle, and above these is an equilateral triangle on which is engraved a single Sigma. Below the wings are clasped hands and in the lower left third is a flaming urn. On the banner below the shield are the words in Greek of the sorority's open motto, "Faithful Unto Death".
Adopted in 1903, the badge of the sorority is an equilateral gold triangle, with a small semi circular indentation on each side. On the gold triangle is a raised black enamel triangle bearing in each corner a gold sigma. In the center of the badge is the symbol of the sorority, the skull and crossed bones. On the outer edge of the badge is a border of pearls.
The Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation is a non-profit corporation formed in 1992. The Foundation distributes funds for charitable, philanthropic, educational, and other benevolent purposes that focus its programs on the following categories: enhancing the leadership skills of modern-day women, providing grants and scholarships to students, and supporting play therapy programs for hospitalized children. The Sigma Sigma Sigma Foundation centers its latter philanthropic efforts around the theme “Sigma Serves Children,” specifically through the Robbie Page Memorial (RPM).
On September 15, 1951, Robbie Page, the son of Tri Sigma’s National President, died of bulbar polio. At that time, there was no cure or prevention for polio. This prompted Robbie’s parents, Robert and Mary Hasting Holloway Page, to establish a memorial fund in honor of their son. Tri Sigma adopted the Robbie Page Memorial as its official philanthropy in 1954. In its early years, the RPM supported various polio research projects, including the Salk vaccine trials. The RPM now focuses on supporting play therapy for hospitalized children, and providing support for playrooms, libraries, and programs for children undergoing long-term hospital care. Current national efforts are centered in funding fellowships at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and in funding graduate assistantships at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The National Therapeutic Recreation Society has recognized Sigma Sigma Sigma for their gracious support of Child Life and Play Therapy Programs. In 2016, Sigma Sigma Sigma added the March of Dimes as a national philanthropic partner.
Tri Sigma’s National Memorial Headquarters is located in Woodstock, Virginia at the Mabel Lee Walton House. Named after the sorority’s third National President, the Walton House serves as the main operations center of Tri Sigma, where day-to-day business is conducted. Walton House was acquired in 1963 and was purchased, furnished, and is maintained by the contributions of individual members, and the dues and fees of alumnae and collegiate chapters. 
James Miller Leake, a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, is the only man permitted to wear the badge of the sorority and is counted as a member of Tri Sigma. His contributions to the sorority include drafting the constitution, and writing the initiation ritual. Though Leake is the only man counted as a member of the sorority, other members names are recorded with credit for assisting in the founding of the sorority. These include, three men from Kappa Sigma Fraternity at Hampden Sydney College, H.W. Cole, for assisting with the constitution, Garret G. Gooch, Alex J. Boyer and Robert Miller. Marvin Smithey (Kappa Alpha, brother of Nellie Smithey of the Alpha Chapter of Tri Sigma) offered legal services to secure the first charter.
The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is an organization which fosters strong interfraternity relationships, assists collegiate chapters, partners with colleges and universities in maintaining high scholastic and social standards, and provides structure for and ensures continuous growth of the Greek system. The conference comprises 26 national general sororities or women’s fraternities, which focus on service, education, scholarship programming and social activities. Sigma Sigma Sigma is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference and has held the distinction of chairing the NPC once; Mary K. Barbee, Iota chapter, served as Chairman (the NPC’s highest leadership position) from 1981–1983.