Sigma Alpha Iota
In the early spring of 1903, Mrs. Fredreka Howland, the wife of William Howland, head of the Vocal Department of the University School of Music, suggested that a musical sorority be organized which would aim for high standards of musicianship and for promotion of the highest type of music. A meeting was held in Mr. Howland's studio in Ann Arbor to discuss this idea. There was some talk of a musical club, but finally a sorority was decided upon as better fitting plans for close bonds of friendship. It was decided that only students of fine character and special musical talent combined with excellent scholarship would be eligible for membership. On June 12, 1903, Sigma Alpha Iota Musical Sorority was founded. Following are the names of the founders, who were graduate students and faculty members: Elizabeth A. Campbell, Frances Caspari, Minnie M. Davis (Sherrill), Leila H. Farlin (Laughlin), Nora Crane Hunt, Georgina Potts, and Mary Storrs (Andersen).
Minnie M. Davis was elected the first president of Alpha chapter. The first annual initiation was held March 7, 1904, at which time Mrs. William Howland was initiated as the first patroness and Blanche Abbott as the first active member. Minnie M. Davis presided at this initiation, which was held in her home. A banquet followed. Madame Louise Homer, the first national honorary member, was initiated by Alpha Chapter at the home of Elsa Stanley on May 12, 1904.
In order to have the sorority properly incorporated under Michigan state laws, articles of association were drawn and signed on December 1, 1904, by seven Page 1946active members and two patronesses of Alpha Chapter. The badge was designed by Edward F. Roehm of Detroit. It has a border of fifteen pearls encircling seven pipes of Pan. The enameled plaques of the Greek letters appear between the pearls at each side and top center. The charter was completed under the supervision of Elsa G. Stanley, president of Alpha chapter in 1904-5, who, with Elizabeth A. Campbell, installed eleven members of Beta Chapter, Northwestern University School of Music, Evanston, Illinois, on December 3, 1904.
From this well-founded beginning the growth of Sigma Alpha Iota has been steady and strong so that the national organization today consists of 105 college chapters, seventy alumnae chapters, and twenty-six alumnae groups in cities throughout the United States. SAI began as an honorary musical sorority, but changed to "professional" in 1922. The name was amended in 1928 to that used today: "Sigma Alpha Iota International Musical Fraternity for Women." The membership consists of college students, alumnae, patronesses, and honorary members. The object of this organization is to give moral and material aid to its members, to promote and dignify the musical profession, to establish and maintain friendly relations between musicians and music schools, and to further the development of music in America.
During World War II Sigma Alpha Iota planned for the period of reconstruction with rehabilitation services of music. Many portable instruments, including clinic organs, have been presented to veterans' hospitals for therapeutic as well as recreational purposes. Owing to the needs of foreign countries, music and music library materials have been sent to European countries. Similar aid has also been given to schools in the Philippines and in Korea.