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Phi Sigma Society records

Identifier: 6SS-Phi Sigma

Scope and Contents

Collection consists of the records of the Phi Sigma Society, dating from 1876-2010. Collection is intellectually arranged in two series. Series I. Administrative records and publications (1876-2000) includes Society publications, event programs and invitations, directories, Constitution and Bylaws, correspondence, President’s Books, Alumnae Council Books, ledgers and financial reports, meeting minutes, records of pledges and initiation lists, a Guest Log and Guest Book. Series II. Scrapbooks, songbooks, and photo book (1879-1954, 2010 and undated) includes a book of photos titled “Album Prints,” two songbooks, and five scrapbooks. Of note are a file (in Series I.) and a scrapbook (in Series II.) on Katharine Lee Bates, a founding member who went on to become an English Professor at the college and the author of “America the Beautiful.”


  • 1876-2000, 2010


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research, but contains some material which has been restricted as per the Wellesley College Archives Access Policy: To make an appointment to view unrestricted materials, please contact the Archives staff by email at or by phone at (781) 283-3745.

Conditions Governing Use

The Wellesley College Archives welcomes researchers to use materials in the public domain, to make fair use of copyrighted materials as defined by copyright law, and to request permission to use works whose copyright is held by Wellesley College. All materials from the Archives, regardless of copyright status, should be attributed to the Wellesley College Archives, Library and Technology Services when cited, quoted, or reproduced.

Biographical / Historical

In 1876 the college's Founder Henry Fowle Durant founded Phi Sigma (along with Zeta Alpha) as literary societies with limited membership. Five years later they were both discontinued as faculty argued they were interfering with academic work, but in 1889 Phi Sigma and Zeta Alpha were brought back (prompted by President Shafter, 1887-1894, and approved by the faculty). Phi Sigma was voluntarily dissolved in 1972 but brought back again in 1982, transformed from a literary society to a lecture society. The Phi Sigma House, built in 1900, was converted into the center for continuing education students and counseling services upon the society's 1972 dissolution. Katharine Lee Bates, Class of 1880 alumna and author of "America the Beautiful," was one of the founding members of the society.

[Information from: Glasscock, Jean, and Katharine Canby Balderston. Wellesley College, 1875-1975: a Century of Women. Wellesley College, 1975.]


3.8 Linear Feet (2 boxes, 3 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials



Collection is physically maintained in original order. Collection is intellectually arranged in two series: Series I. Administrative records and publications (1876-2000) and Series II. Scrapbooks, songbooks, and photo book (1879-1954, 2010, and undated).
Wellesley College. Phi Sigma. Phi Sigma Society records, 1876-2000, 2010: a guide
File-level description by Student Assistant Sophia Pechaty, collection-level description by Natalia Gutierrez-Jones, Project Archivist.
2020 March 27
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository