Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities (1879)/Sigma Alpha Epsilon

This fraternity, founded in the Southern States three or four years before the civil war, had most of its records and papers destroyed during that conflict, and to-day it is a question not only as to who were its founders, but in what college it was first established. It is pre-eminently a Southern fraternity, and it has not one chapter in any college either in the Northern States, or in one frequented by Northern students. Its total membership is now abont 950, and its living chaptcrs are in a comparatively flourishing condition. As a large number of the Sonthern colleges prohibit secret societies, the letters of the chapters in such colleges are given, and the name of the college is omitted. The chapter roll is as follows:

1. Kentucky Alpha, Forest Academy, 1877 (died 1877)
2. Beta, Georgia University, 1866.
3. Beta Beta, Howard College, 1870 (died 1872).
4. Gamma, Mississippi University, 1865 (died 1879)
5. Epsilon, East Louisiana State Seminary, 1867 (died 1879).
6. Zeta, Mississippi College, 1871 (died 1871).
7. Eta, Oglethorpe University, 1860 (died 1861)
8. Tennessee Eta, Sonthwestern Baptist University, 1867.
9. Theta, Baylor University, 1859 (died 1861).
10. Virginia Theta, Virginia Military Institute, 1873 (died 1876).
11. Iota, Bethel College, 1858 (died 1861).
12. Alabama Iota, Birmingham Southern College, 1877.
13. Kappa, William and Mary College, 1858 (died 1861).
14. Lambda, Cumber1and University, 1859 (died 1879).
15. Mu, Alabama University, 1856 (died 1860).
16. Alpha Mu, — —, 1878.
17. Nu, Vanderbilt University, 1857 (died 1873).
18. Xi, North Carolina University, 1857 (died 1862).
19. Omicron, Virginia University, 1858.
20. Pi, Georgia Military Institute, 1858 (died 1863).
21. Rho, Columbia College, 1859 (died 1867).
22. Rho Rho, Carolina Military Institute, 1877 (died 1879).
23. Sigma, Washington-Lee University, 1867.
24. Phi, Furman University, 1869 (died 1879).
25. Chi, Kentucky Military Institute, 1857.
26. Psi, Mercer University, 1870.
27. Omega, Union University (Tennessee), 1869 (died 1870).
28. Kappa, East Tennessee University, 1879.
Alumni chapters.
29. Georgia Alpha, Atlanta, Ga., 1872.
30. Georgia Omega, Augusta, Ga.
31. Alabama Alpha, Mobile, Ala., 1878.
32. Tau, Little Rock, Ark.
33. Nu, Nashville, Tenn., 1874.
34. Delta, Cincinnati, Ohio.

The fraternity is supposed to have been founded at the University of Alabama, but it is doubtful whether it was there or at the University of North Oarolina. The organization was founded at a most unfavorable time, and has experienced many vicissitudes. The Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Mu, Lambda, Omicron, Nu, Xi, Pi, and Chi Chapters were forced to disband by the Rebellion before they were fairly in organization. The Lambda, Omicron, and Nu were revived, but the latter exists now only as an alumni chapter at Nashville. The Chi is flourishing, but the remainder are dead. The Kentueky Alpha, the Beta Beta, the Zeta, the Nu, the Rho Rho, and the Omega have been killed by the anti-fraternity laws which exist in so many Southern colleges. The Gamma disbanded; the Virginia Theta lost the support of the students, and became defunct; the remaining chapters are prosperous. The Chi Chapter is the Grand Chapter, and publishes the fraternity catalogue. The last one was issued in 1877, and one is expected in 1880.

The standard of the fraternity is a high one, and it is one of the best in the South. At the biennial conventions, medals have usually been awarded for excellence in oratory, and the exercises are mainly of a serious nature.

The badge of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a diamond, a little less than an inch in diameter, having the device of a lion and the goddess of liberty, above which are the letters “ΦΑ” in gold. Below are the letters “ΣΑΕ” in a wreath. The edge of the badge is chased. The fraternity color is royal purple. The total membership is 950.