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Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity (ΑΣΦ, commonly abbreviated to Alpha Sig) is a social fraternity with 68 active chapters, colonies, and interest groups. Founded at Yalemarker in 1845, it is the 10th oldest fraternity in the United Statesmarker.

The fraternity practices many traditions. Their Latin motto is, Causa Latet Vis Est Notissima ("The cause is hidden, the results well-known."). The fraternity's official symbol is the phoenix, as the phoenix rises from the ashes of its old body, signifying the refounding of the fraternity in the early 1900s. Due to active expansion efforts, Alpha Sigma Phi continues to offer services and opportunities to over 2,000 undergraduate students and 40,000 living alumni.



Alpha Sigma Phi was founded at Yale College in 1845 as a secret sophomore society composed of many of the school's authors, poets, athletes, and scholars. Upon rising through the ranks of the school, members shared membership with Alpha Sigma Phi in Skull and Bonesmarker, Scroll and Key, and eventually Wolf's Head.

The founders of Alpha Sigma Phi were:

Louis Manigault
  • Louis Manigault was the son of Charles I. Manigault, a wealthy rice planter from South Carolinamarker who traced his ancestry to a Huguenot refugee who fled from Louis XIV's persecution and came to America in 1691. He served in the American Civil War as assistant to the Confederate Surgeon General. Moreover, he was a prominent plantation and slave owner in South Carolina.
  • Stephen Ormsby Rhea was the son of John Rhea, an important cotton planter of Louisianamarker who helped open the disputed territory of West Florida and made it a part of the U.S. and state of Louisiana.
  • Horace Spangler Weiser, of York, Pennsylvaniamarker, was a descendant of Conrad Weiser, also a refugee from Europe who became famous in the French and Indian War, representing several colonies in treaty negotiations with Native Americans.

Manigault and Rhea met at St. Paul's Preparatory School near Flushing, New York, where both were members of the same literary society and were preparing themselves for admission to Yale. Weiser attended a private school in New Havenmarker, and he met Rhea early in his freshman year, who introduced him to Manigault.

Once at Yale, Manigault and Rhea became members of Yale's Calliopean Literary Society, and Weiser was a member of the Lininian Literary Society. Manigault was very much interested in the class society system at Yale and noted the class fraternities provided experience for their members and prepared them for competition in literary contests. The sophomore class there had only one society, Kappa Sigma Theta, which displayed an attitude of superiority toward non-fraternity men.

Manigault revealed to his friends Rhea and Josepito Romen a plan for founding another sophomore society. Rhea agreed and enlisted Weiser to become the three founders of Alpha Sigma Phi. Their first official meeting was held in Manigault's room on Chapel Street on December 6, 1845. The constitution and ritual were then written and the fraternity pin was designed. The first pledge class, of 14 members, was initiated on June 24, 1846.

After the birth of Alpha Sigma Phi, an intense rivalry began with Kappa Sigma Theta. The rivalry expressed itself in their publications, Kappa Sigma Theta's "The Yale Banger" and Alpha Sigma Phi's "The Yale Tomahawk." In 1852, the editors of The Tomahawk were expelled after violating faculty orders to cease publication. However, the rivalry between the organizations continued until 1858, when Kappa Sigma Theta was suppressed by the faculty.

Beyond Yale

The first charter was granted to Amherst Collegemarker as Beta Chapter, but it only lasted about six months, at which time the parent chapter requested that it dissolve and return the constitution. However, a fragmentary document in the Yale library suggests that Beta was chartered in 1850 at Harvardmarker but lived a very short life due to a wave of puritanism. The chapter at Harvard was revived in 1911 as Beta Chapter but only survived about 20 years; the charter was withdrawn due to Harvard's anti-fraternity environment. When Amherst was restored in 1854, it was designated as Delta Chapter. However, when the chapter at Marietta College was chartered in 1860, it too was given the Delta designation, despite the parent chapter being aware of this discrepancy.

When the Civil War broke out across the United Statesmarker, almost every member of Delta at Marietta enlisted in the Union Army. Three of the brothers gave their lives fighting for the Union cause. Former chapter presidents William B. Whittlesey and George B. Turner fell on the battle fields of Chattanoogamarker and Lookout Mountainmarker. They willed their personal possessions and their swords to the chapter, which treasured those mementos until the chapter closed in the mid 1990s.

During the Civil War, the mother chapter at Yale was torn by internal dissension. Because less attention was being given to the sophomore class societies, some Alpha Sigma Phi members pledged to Delta Kappa Epsilon, a junior class society, and attempted to turn the control of Alpha Sigma Phi over to Delta Kappa Epsilon. However, the attempt was thwarted by members of Alpha Sigma Phi who had pledged to the other two junior class societies. A conflict ensued, and the faculty suppressed Alpha Sigma Phi to end the disorder. However, the traditions of Alpha Sigma Phi were carried on by two new sophomore class societies, Delta Beta Xi and Phi Theta Psi. Louis Manigault sought to renew his loyalty and friendship with his brothers of Alpha Sigma Phi, and agreed with Rhea and Weiser to consider Delta Beta Xi its true descendant. They were unaware at the time that Delta Chapter at Marietta still existed as Alpha Sigma Phi.


The second founders were:
  • Wayne Montgomery Musgrave, an honors graduate of New York Universitymarker, Yalemarker and Harvardmarker. He provided the organizational spark that fanned Alpha Sigma Phi into national prominence.
  • Edwin Morey Waterbury, born in Geneseo, New Yorkmarker on September 26, 1884, son of Dr. Reuben A. and Frances Waterbury. Dr. Waterbury was an educator, and vice-principal of the New York State Normal School at Geneseo from 1873 to 1895.

With the inactivation of Delta Beta Xi at Yale, Alpha Sigma Phi was kept alive only at Marietta by Delta. At Yale, four friends agreed in a conversation over a card game that an organization was needed that was open to all students, instead of representing only the sophomore or junior classes. The four friends were Robert L. Ervin, Benjamin F. Crenshaw, Arthur S. Ely, and Edwin M. Waterbury.

Other members soon joined the group in their mission, the first of which were Fredrick H. Waldron and Wayne M. Musgrave. Ervin knew some of the alumni brothers of Delta at Marietta and asked them to send the first letter to Delta. On March 27, 1907, Ely, Crenshaw, Musgrave, Waldron, and Waterbury traveled to Marietta and were initiated into Alpha Sigma Phi. Upon returning to New Havenmarker, they initiated the other friends they had recruited into the new Alpha chapter at Yale.

Many of the old Alpha members returned to Yale upon hearing the news of the refounding, and helped acquire the fraternity's first piece of real estate, the "Tomb", a windowless two story building. No non-member was allowed entrance. No member could speak of the interior of the building, and were even expected to remain silent while passing by the exterior of the building.


A new national organization was formed at an Alpha Sigma Phi conference at Marietta in 1907, and within a year there were three new chapters: Zeta at Ohio Statemarker, Eta at the University of Illinoismarker, and Theta at the University of Michiganmarker. In 1910 another convention was held with the members of the former chapters at Yalemarker, Amherstmarker and Ohio Wesleyan Universitymarker, and a delegation from the Yalemarker Delta Beta Xi fraternity. All of these pledged to anew their loyalty to a restored Alpha Sigma Phi.

Alpha Sigma Phi survived World War I fairly easily and even recruited many new members during those years. In the post-war era, Alpha Sigma Phi expanded at the rate of one chapter per year. In 1939, Phi Pi Phi merged with Alpha Sigma Phi, as the Great Depression left that fraternity with only five of its original twenty-one chapters. World War II hit Alpha Sigma Phi hard, with many brothers losing their lives due to the conflict, forcing many chapters to close.

On September 6, 1946, Alpha Kappa Pi merged with Alpha Sigma Phi. Alpha Kappa Pi had never had a national office, but was still a strong fraternity. During the war, they had lost many chapters and realized the need for a more stable national organization. Alpha Sigma Phi expanded again in 1965 by five more chapters when it merged with Alpha Gamma Upsilon.

The 1980s found a younger generation of leaders taking the reins of the fraternity. Keeping in mind one of its oldest traditions, being a fraternity run by undergraduates, the leadership and undergraduates began expanding in new directions. In 2006, Alpha Sigma Phi won the North-American Interfraternity Conference's Laurel Wreath Award for the Ralph F. Burns Leadership Institute for new members.


Alpha Sigma Phi has a collection of traditional songs, many of them written over the years by Alpha Sig brothers. One of the first publications of the fraternity was a songbook. The Songs of Alpha Sigma Phi is available through National Headquarters as both a song book and a cassette tape.

For He's An Alpha Sig:

For he's an Alpha Sig,

He's a man you ought to know,

For he's an Alpha Sig,

He's not too fast and not too slow,

He's a gentleman and a scholar

with a heart beneath his vest;

He looks like all the others,

but he's better than the rest!

For he's an Alpha Sig,

He's a man you ought to, a man you want to,

a man you're sure to know!

The Sweetheart Song:

Who says sweetheart to you,

who calls you all his own?

Who stands lonesome and blue,

talking of love to the moon up above?

Tell me who's eyes are gazing in yours,

make all your dreams come true?

Who has the right to kiss you goodnight?

Tell me, whose Alpha Sig Girl are you?

Famous Members


Name Chapter and Year Known For
Fitz Eugene Dixon, Jr. Widener Universitymarker 1973 Owner, Philadelphia 76ers
Ray Eliot University of Illinoismarker 1938 Head Football Coach, Univ. of Illinois 1942-59 (83-73-11), Won, Three Big Ten Titles; Two Rose Bowls; Assistant Athletic Director, Univ. of Illinois
Tom Glick Cornell Universitymarker 1990 CEO, Derby County F.C. (Coca-Cola Championship League)
Bob Howsam University of Coloradomarker 1938 Chairman and President, Cincinnati Reds Baseball Team (NL); Manager, Cincinnati Reds – National League
Billy Johnson Widener Universitymarker 1971 American football player
Press Maravich Davis and Elkins Collegemarker 1941 Basketball Coach, Univ. of Louisville; Basketball Coach, North Carolina State; Basketball Coach, Clemson University. Father of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, NBA All Star
Bennie Oosterbaan University of Michiganmarker 1927 American football player and coach
Robin Reed Oregon State Universitymarker 1926 Gold medalist in Wrestling at the 1924 Summer Olympics
Tom Watson Stanford Universitymarker 1971 Pro golfer, three-time Vardon Trophy winner

Authors, Editors, and Publishers

Name Chapter and Year Known For
Harold T. P. Hayes Wake Forest Universitymarker 1944 Editor, Esquire Magazine
Reinhold Niebuhr Yale Universitymarker 1913 Protestant theologian

Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Name Chapter and Year Known For
Warren Buffett University of Pennsylvaniamarker 1948 CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Bradford G. Corbett Wagner 1958 Chairman, Robintech Corp; Owner, Texas Rangers
Andrew McKelvey Westminstermarker 1954 Chairman and CEO, worldwide.
Jon Mittelhauser University of Illinoismarker 1990 Co-founder of Netscape Communications
Ratan Tata Cornell Universitymarker 1956 Chairman of the Tata Group, India's wealthiest business group


Name Chapter and Year Known For
Andrew Dickson Whitemarker Yalemarker 1850 President, First - Cornell University, Ithaca, New York



Musicians, Stage, and Screen Performers

Name Chapter and Year Known For
Samuel Bodman Cornell Universitymarker 1957 United States Secretary of Energy (2005-2009)
Andrew G. Douglas Toledomarker 1951 Justice, Ohio State Supreme Court
Arthur Flemming Ohio Wesleyan Universitymarker 1924 United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (1958-1961)
Skip Humphrey American Universitymarker 1962 Minnesota Attorney General (1983-1999)
John Kasich The Ohio State Universitymarker 1973 Congressman from Ohiomarker (1983-2001), Candidate for Ohio governor (2010)
C. Everett Koop Dartmouth Collegemarker 1934 Surgeon General of the United States (1982-1989)
Horace R. Kornegay Wake Forestmarker 1942 U.S. Representative, North Carolina; Chairman, The Tobacco Institute
Charles G. Oakman Michiganmarker 1924 U.S. Representative, Michigan
Ross Swimmer Oklahoma Universitymarker 1961 Special Trustee for American Indians at the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
Frank Wolf Penn Statemarker 1960 U.S. Representative from Virginiamarker (1981-)
John Kimball North Carolina State Universitymarker 2009 Narc for the Raleigh, NC police department
Name Chapter and Year Known For
Ted Cassidy West Virginia Wesleyanmarker 1939 Actor, Lurch on The Addams Family
Vincent Price Yale Universitymarker 1930 Film actor, The Inventor in Edward Scissorhands
Willard Scott American Universitymarker 1946 TV personality, weatherman on The Today Show

Active Chapters, Colonies, and Interest Groups


External links

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