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The Fraternity looks back at 14 decades of The Delta...

April 1883

140 Years Ago…
“With this issue, we enter the field of Fraternity Journalism; and in presenting our first number, we deem it appropriate to state the fundamental principle on which it is based, and some of the leading objects for which it is designed. We desire to cultivate a love of harmony, a love of our fraternity, a love of the home of our birth and childhood. We would secure a union of hearts and purposes in life, and form a chain to keep alive the holiest and sweetest ties of love and friendship among our members which can be broken only by death.” The opening words of the first Delta (Vol. 1, No. 1) from Editor John Alexander Howard (North Georgia). 

July 1893
130 Years Ago…
Edited by Grant W. Harrington (Kansas) during Nu Chapter’s service as “sponsor and guardian” of the magazine, the July 1893 issue of The Delta (Vol. 10, No. 4) featured reports of the formation and assembly of the Indiana State Sigma Nu Association. The issue published proceedings from the association’s first and second conventions, with brothers from Beta Beta (DePauw), Beta Zeta (Purdue), and Beta Eta (Indiana) adopting a constitution and electing officers. The issue also included letters from brothers calling for a measured approach to westward expansion and excoriating the then-practice of “lifting” or switching allegiance and membership from one fraternity to another. 

May 1903
120 Years Ago…
By 1903, The Delta’s appearance had evolved, with the publication now including full-page photographs and portraits of notable brothers and Fraternity leaders. The issue (Vol. 20, No. 4), edited by Zeta Chapter alumnus Clarence E. Woods (Central), was lengthy at approximately 200 pages, largely comprised of “chapter letters” (reports of chapter and alumni activities), art, photographs, and poetry composed by Edward Blount (Texas), Poet Laureate of the Fraternity. Focus on the financial viability of The Delta was a hallmark of Brother Woods's service as editor, with this issue available for sale for $0.25 or an annual subscription of $1.00 and purchased advertisements included at the end.

August 1913
110 Years Ago…
The August 1913 Issue (Vol. 31, No. 1) marked a transition in publication leadership, with Walter James Sears (Kansas), author of the Sigma Nu Creed, taking over as editor. Brother Sears would only serve as editor until 1915 but did yeoman service by devoting his pages to discussion concerning a central office for the Fraternity and the means for accomplishing this. Brother Sears' first issue also featured a retrospective of the prior 30 years of Delta publication and outlined his efforts to ensure the magazine remained a viable and cherished service of the Fraternity. 

March 1923
100 Years Ago…
Editor and Delta Zeta Chapter alumnus Harry A. Rider (Western Reserve) oversaw the March 1923 issue (Vol. 40, No. 3) of the magazine. The issue followed the passing of Past Regent Perlee Rawson Bennett (Kansas), author of The Ritual of Sigma Nu and Past Regent, who entered Chapter Eternal in November 1922. Tributes to Bennett from Past Regents Walter James Sears (Kansas), Francis V. Keesling (Stanford), Arthur F. Krippner (Wisconsin), and Albert H. Wilson (Mount Union) filled the issue. An autobiography penned by Brother Bennett at the request of then Grand Historian John C. Scott (Purdue) was also included. Bennett wrote the autobiography on Christmas Day, 1921.

May 1933
90 Years Ago…
During the 1930s, oversight of The Delta was managed by Editor Charles E. Thomas (Sewanee). Thomas would become well-known for several contributions to the magazine, including the December 1932 issue, which was published as the Fraternity’s third songbook, and his change of the magazine’s size closer to what we expect from The Delta today. The May 1933 issue (Vol. 50, No. 4) also featured a signature of the Thomas era, increased focus on alumni features and stories. Among the features was a fun highlight announcing Brother Truman Green (Florida) as the recently crowned king of the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa, Florida.

May 1943
80 Years Ago…
Harry A. Rider (Western Reserve) returned to service as Delta editor in 1942, filling a vacancy after Lawrence D. Reedy (Oklahoma State) stepped down from the role to accept a commission in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Rider would carry on the new tradition of including vibrant and dynamic covers with each issue of The Delta, a practice started by editors Thomas and Reedy in the late 1930s. The cover treatments would become standard for almost all issues moving forward. Special features in the May 1943 (Vol. 60, No.4) issue included a location announcement and save-the-date for the 31st Grand Chapter in Chicago, Ill., and anniversary highlights for Beta Mu Chapter (Iowa) and Delta Chi Chapter (Trinity).

September 1953
70 Years Ago…
The Legion of Honor mournfully reported the sad news of the passing of editor Harry A. Rider (Western Reserve) in the September 1953 issue (Vol. 71, No. 1). Brother Rider passed on June 22, 1953, and was at work in the General Offices in Indianapolis, Ind. up until ten days before his passing. Editorship of The Delta would shift with this issue to Brother William L. Pittman (Butler), who would leave his own impressive mark on the magazine. Pittman incorporated permanent departments into The Delta. He also began using full-color photography and extensive artwork, earning him accolades and awards for his work.

Spring 1963
60 Years Ago…
Taking over in the 1960s, Editor Gerald R. Sherratt (Utah State) used the Spring 1963 Issue (Vol. 80, No. 3) to take a historical look at the year 1869 with the cover story “A Sigma Nu Salute to 1869.” The story featured short highlights of significant events from the year, including the driving of the golden spike at Promontory, Utah, linking the East and West by rail, which was featured on the issue cover. Other significant events in 1869 included the opening of the Suez Canal on November 17 and the first intercollegiate football game played between Princeton and Rutgers on November 6. 

February 1973
50 Years Ago…
The early 1970s saw a radical change in format for The Delta, including the February 1973 issue (Vol. 89, No. 1). The high costs of producing a top-quality magazine with color photographs strained the Fraternity’s budget leading to a shift toward a tabloid-style for the first time in its history. This style would last through the late 70s before returning to the traditional format. The editor at the time also represented a break in tradition. Marguerite G. Old became the first woman and non-Sigma Nu editor in the magazine's history. Despite the change in style, The Delta still delivered interesting news, including a profile of Brother Ronald Evans (Kansas), the command module pilot for the Apollo 17 mission.

Spring 1983
40 Years Ago…
The Spring 1983 issue (Vol. 100, No. 1) marked the centennial anniversary of The Delta. The issue, with its cover depicting the triangular brick memorial on the campus of the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Ga., erected by the Kappa Chapter in honor of The Delta’s first editor John Alexander Howard (North Georgia), celebrated the history of the magazine. In addition to a detailed recap of the magazine’s past 100 years, the issue featured written accounts from past editors John C. Scott (Purdue), Charles E. Thomas (Sewanee), and Alan A. Wheeler (Westminster) on their time editing the magazine and their love of the Fraternity.

Spring 1993
30 Years Ago…
The Spring 1993 issue (Vol. 110, No. 1) served as the year's published annual report of the Sigma Nu Educational Foundation. Prepared by Executive Director Mo Littlefield (Maine) and Julia Littlefield, the issue included updates on campaigns and general annual giving and a full description of a historic first for the Fraternity and Foundation. In April 1993, the Foundation’s Directors and the Fraternity’s High Council met jointly. What is now something that occurs annually, if not more frequently, was, at the time, a significant moment. The joint meeting included a tour of the Fraternity’s headquarters and another significant first, the official union of both the Ethical Leadership Center and the Headquarters Buildings and Grounds into a unified educational complex.

Winter 2003
20 Years Ago…
By 2003, The Delta that we know today had solidified. Full-color covers and interiors, consistent departments, and impactful storytelling from an editorial team of dedicated headquarters staff, led by Managing Editor Jason Guyton (Coastal Carolina). Among the highlights of the Winter 2003 issue (Vol. 119, No. 1) were profiles on the Epsilon Xi Chapter’s annual Charity Bowl, which raised money for the Christopher Reeve Foundation, highlights from the 60th Grand Chapter in Toronto, Canada, and a reflection on Sigma Nu’s greatest football coaches including Paul “Bear” Bryant (Alabama), Bobby Dodd (Tennessee), Ray Graves (Tennessee), Bennie Owen (Oklahoma), John Ralston (California), and recent Sigma Nu Hall of Fame inductee LaVell Edwards (Utah State).

Summer 2013
10 Years Ago…
In 2011, with the help of Bruce Tria and Tria Designs, Managing Editor Nathaniel Clarkson (James Madison) redesign The Delta to achieve its now signature, award-winning appearance. The Summer 2013 (Vol. 129, No. 2) issue’s cover story profiled Sigma Nu Hall of Fame member and Managing General Partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ken Kendrick (West Virginia). The issue included a Q&A with then Regent Charlie Eitel (Oklahoma State) and an interview with “Miracle on the Hudson” survivor Dave Sanderson (James Madison). The issue also carried on a new tradition that started in the 2010s, “Perspectives on our Past” from Past Grand Historian Bob McCully (San Diego State). Bob’s legacy for telling Sigma Nu’s story lives on to this day.

“Why the Delta?
1. To maintain a permanent record of the progress and development of the Fraternity.
2. To keep its active members in constant touch with the plans and activity of each other.
3. To bring the alumni members into helpful and abiding relationship of happy and uplifting fellowship.
4. To present and discuss the problems of college life and education.
5. To promote the ideals of the Fraternity, to enrich its faith and doctrine, to strengthen the ties of friendship, and to enlarge the sources of human love, courage, zeal, self-sacrifice, culture, democracy, and aspiration.” – Walter James Sears (Kansas) affirms the purpose of The Delta in the August 1913 issue.

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9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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