Sigma Pi Phi records, 1926-2019

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Sigma Pi Phi.
Title: Sigma Pi Phi records, 1926-2019
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1337
Extent: 47.25 linear feet (50 boxes), and 107 GB born-digital material (29,637 files)
Abstract:Records of Sigma Pi Phi, a fraternal organization of African American professional men.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Special restrictions apply: Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact the Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder Rose’s ability to provide access to audiovisual material

Special restrictions apply: Access to processed born digital materials is only available in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (the Rose Library). Use of the original digital media is restricted.

Special restrictions apply: Some material designated by the organizations such as member rosters, policy documents, meeting minutes, material related to the organization’s rituals, financial records, and legal records will be restricted from access until 25 years after the dissolution of the donating organization.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Additional Physical Form

Series 1:Boulé Journal, 1926-2015 is also available digitally to researchers through the Emory Luna Digital Image Gallery.


Gift, 2015. Additions, 2018, 2019.


[after identification of item(s)], title statement, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Described at the series level by Carrie Hintz, 2016. Additions described at a collection level by Brenna Edwards, 2019, 2020.

Born digital materials processed, arranged, and described by Brenna Edwards, 2020. Born digital materials include files taken from 10 3.5" floppy disks, 82 optical discs, one Zip disk, five flash drives, and one file transfer. For information as to how these materials were processed, see the processing note in the description of series 4, Born digital materials.

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Collection Description

Biographical Note

Sigma Pi Phi, also referred to the Boulé, was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 15, 1904 by Edwin Howard, Algernon Jackson, Henry McKee Minton, and Richard Warrick. It was the first Greek-letter fraternity to be founded by African American men, and, unlike undergraduate fraternal organizations, membership is limited to African American men who have already achieved some degree of success within their chosen profession.

From this first group of men, known as the Alpha Boulé because they were the inaugural chapter of the organization, Sigma Pi Phi quickly began to grow into a national organization, establishing chapters in Chicago in 1907 and Baltimore in 1908—the Beta and Gamma Boulé’s respectively. Representatives from the member boulés met in Philadelphia in 1908 to form the Grand Boulé, providing centralized leadership for the growing organization. Sigma Pi Phi continued to grow quickly throughout the teens and twenties, and published the first edition of Boulé Journal in 1912 in order to facilitate communication to Boulé members.

The early members of Sigma Pi Phi were inspired by models of Greek democracy and the influence of Ancient Greek democratic principles remains evident in the terminology and leadership structure of the organization. Boulé members refer to themselves as Archons and the highest leadership position in the organization is the Grand Sire Archon. The organization’s other leadership positions also have Greek-inspired titles including the Grand Grammateus (Secretary), Grand Thesauristes (Treasurer). Until 1968 the Grand Sire Archon was chosen by lot, rather than elected, to demonstrate the members’ belief that any individual worthy of entrance into the organization would be capable of leading it.

During the 1970s the organization began to more explicitly engage in social action, with a social action committee tasked with managing social justice programs. In 1980 the Sigma Pi Phi, later Boulé, Foundation was established with the explicit intent to fund social action programs.

Scope and Content Note

The Sigma Pi Phi records include the records, paper and born-digital, that document the activities of the organization, including administrative and planning documents, records related to the Boulé Foundation, and related to the publishing of the Boulé Journal, and copies of the Journal itself. The collection also includes photographs of fraternity members and events held by both the Grand Boulé and the member Boulés.

Arrangement Note

Organized into 5 series: (1) Boulé Journal, 1926-2015 (2) Photographs, 1987-2015 (3) Administrative Material, 1941-2013 (4) Born digital materials, 1980-2019 (5) Unprocessed additions, 1985-2018

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