National Fraternity History
On Saturday, December 6, 1845, three young men sat down in a small room at Yale College, and created a fraternal society based on high moral values and centered on the concept of Brotherhood. Louis Manigault, the principal Founder, then designed the badge and other insignia, and wrote the Ritual for the Fraternity. How could he have ever imagined that, over one hundred and fifty years later, his fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi, would be one of the strongest national fraternities in America? Yet that was his dream, as he would write later in his life:
To think that all our college labor in the arduous task of founding a Society has not proved vain but on the contrary, that Alpha Sigma Phi still stands with her glorious and mystical insignia untarnished. I pray that she may yet survive to transmit to future generations her renown.
Alpha Sigma Phi has survived these many years, but the road has not been easy for the "Old Gal". Early expansion led to four additional chapters aside from the one at Yale. However, hard times and the Civil War almost eliminated the Fraternity, but the Delta Chapter at Marietta College in Marietta, OH, carried on alone in the late 1800's.
The reactivation of the Alpha Chapter at Yale College in 1907 began Alpha Sigma Phi's new existence as a true national fraternity. Expansion between 1907 and the early 1930's saw the fraternity start chapters on campuses across the nation, but this success did not last long. The Great Depression in the early 1930's created much hardship, and chapters began to close, including Alpha Chapter at Yale. In 1936, Ralph F. Burns, "Mr. Alpha Sig", took over the role of Executive Secretary, a position he would hold for the next forty years. He managed Alpha Sigma Phi through the dark days; the Great Depression and World War II.
Post-War America was a prosperous time for college fraternities, and Alpha Sigma Phi was no exception. The fraternity began an active expansion program, and current Chapters experienced success. Mergers and consolidations with Alpha Kappa Pi in 1946, and Alpha Gamma Upsilon in 1968, along with the previous merger with Phi Pi Phi in 1938, added even more chapters and dedicated alumni. In both 1966, and 1967, the fraternity initiated over 1000 men.
Yet times were changing and once again the fraternity was challenged. By the 1970's, men were not interested in joining fraternities. Young Americans were full of unrest, and they saw fraternities as part of the "establishment", something they were against. Alpha Sigma Phi acknowledged that change was needed. Undergraduates were given stronger representation the governing board of the fraternity, the Grand Council. New innovative leadership programs were created, like the National Leadership Conference, which took place once a year.
The end of the 20th century has seen the resurgence of the "Old Gal". Alpha Chapter at Yale has once again been reopened, and an aggressive expansion policy by the fraternity now has the number of chapters, colonies, and interest groups at more than 60.
Alpha Sigma Phi has gone through many changes since it's inception back in 1845, yet the essence of what Louis Manigault created has stayed the same. The badge, while smaller, is as it was in the first years. Our Rituals and values, while reexamined and adjusted at various points to reflect the times, still embody much of what Louis envisioned. And at the core, the idea that Brotherhood and the fraternal experience enhance ones life beyond college still holds true.
Eta Chapter History
The Eos Club was organized in 1907. The petition of the Eos Club for a Charter was approved in May 1908, and the Chapter was installed as Eta Chapter of Alpha Sigma Phi on June 25, 1908. The early chapter had houses on Green Street, 410 Daniel Street, and 404 E. Daniel Street. In 1927 the chapter completed a house on its lot at 211 East Armory Avenue, and it has occupied the house since, except for one year in the early 1980's.
In 1935-36, Eta Chapter initiated several members of the Illinois chapter of a National Fraternity which had disintegrated during the depression. As the central office of this defunct organization had ceased to function, the members had not secured a release from the prior organization. The incident led to suspension of Alpha Sigma Phi by the NIC for one year. After investigation of the Chapter's conduct and the state of the prior organization at the time, no fault was found nor discipline imposed on Eta Chapter or the members initiated.
Delta of Phi Pi Phi: In 1923 Iota Phi Theta was chartered as Delta of Phi Pi Phi. It had houses in 1923-24 at 104 E. Green Street and 1925-31 at 305 E. Green Street. In 1933 the chapter moved to 806 W. Green Street, Urbana. It became inactive in about 1936.
Sigma of Alpha Kappa Pi: Kappa Zeta Rho was formed as the Pyramid Club by Marion Lindee and R. R. Goff in May 1926. In the Fall the fraternity rented a house at 906 S. Sixth Street, which accommodated the membership of seventeen. In 1929, the fraternity moved to 309 E. John Street. Lambda Alpha Lambda was formed in November 1926, under the leadership of A. S. Stewart. In February 1927, the group rented a house at 406 Green Street, which accommodated sixteen of the seventeen members, and later acquired a house at 509 E. Chalmers Street, and finally moved to 401 Green Street. Both local fraternities (Kappa Zeta Rho and Lambda Alpha Lambda) petitioned Alpha Kappa Pi, and their combined petitions were accepted. The local fraternities were installed on May 29-30, 1931 as the Sigma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Pi. In May 1934 the Alpha Kappa Pi chapter moved to 1109 S. Fourth Street. The Depression took its toll on student memberships, and only five members of the Alpha Kappa Pi chapter returned to school in Fall 1934, but the Chapter survived.
Following the merger of Alpha Kappa Pi and Alpha Sigma Phi in 1946 members returned from wartime service to the 211 East Armory house. Calvin Sifford, first initiated at the Carthage College chapter of Alpha Kappa Pi led in the post war restoration of Eta Chapter. The Chapter closed in 1980, and after a brief period of inactivity, was re-chartered in 1982. James C. McMahn, Alpha Xi ’78 and Charles A. McCaffrey, Eta ’82 provided alumni guidance to the chapter for many years and were instrumental in the Chapter’s re-chartering.
The Chapter hosted the 1909, 1937, and 1984 Conventions of Alpha Sigma Phi. It won the Grand Senior President's Award in 1988, 1990, and 1996, the Gary A. Anderson Award in 1988, and the Alpha Kappa Pi Award in 1966. James A. Niewiara, Eta ‘ 87, was the Alpha Sigma Phi Scholar of the Year in 1989. Steven V. Zizzo, Eta '84, received the 1987 Frank F. Hargear Memorial Award and served in several capacities on the Fraternity staff, including as Executive Vice-President, 1994-98. Nathan Hood, Eta ’92, received the Frank F. Hargear Memorial Award in 1995.
Twelve alumni of Eta have served on the Grand Council or Grand Prudential Committee of Alpha Sigma Phi. Dallas Donnan, Eta '21, and Raymond E. Glos, Eta '22, served as Grand Senior Presidents of Alpha Sigma Phi from 1964 to 1966 and 1966 to 1968, respectively, and both have been awarded the Distinguished Service Award of Alpha Sigma Phi, 1967 and 1971 respectively. Joseph P. Lanterman, Eta '34, and John T. Trutter, Eta ’39, have received the Distinguished Merit Award in 1969 and 1994 respectively. Twenty-six alumni of the chapter have been awarded the Delta Beta Xi Key. Charles Bennis, Eta ’33, was named to the University of Illinois “All Century” football team. Ray Elliot, Eta ’38, was head coach of the Fighting Illini from 1942 to 1959, compiling an overall 83 - 73 - 4 record, winning three Big Ten titles, and two Rose Bowls. The Chapter currently holds the record for the most men initiated having initiated over 2125 men through the Spring of 2008.