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Collection of Sigma Chi Fraternity Court Case materials

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 37

Scope and Contents

The Collection of Sigma Chi Fraternity Court Case Materials documents the court battle from the inception of President White's matriculation pledge, to the Supreme Court decision and beyond. This collection documents the legal dispute and is sometimes referred to as the Purdue case or Sigma Chi case.

Types of materials include: newspaper clippings, magazine articles, reports, documented opinions of Circuit Court Judge P. Vinton and others, and other extraneous materials related to the Delta Delta chapter of Sigma Chi, the first fraternity formed at Purdue University in 1875.


  • 1879 - 2000

Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Some material in this collection are in the public domain, while other material copyrights are held by Purdue University. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Historical Information

The Delta Delta chapter of Sigma Chi was established in March of 1875, making it the first fraternity on Purdue’s campus. Two years later, Purdue President Emerson White established the matriculation pledge on September 11, 1877, which marked the beginning of his fight against Greek life on campus. According to White and other faculty members, fraternity organizations on campus would discourage the industrial spirit of Purdue by incorporating “classical” university ideals into the student body. The Delta Delta chapter fought against this regulation by petitioning the board and secretly continuing fraternity initiations and meetings. The brothers were not allowed to reveal their affiliation to the Sigma Chi fraternity, and to honor the legacy of their past brothers, current members do not wear their letters on campus.

The brothers of Delta Delta continued to fight against the administration, although their numbers began to wane. From 1878 to 1879, two members of Sigma Chi were expelled and three others received disciplinary action from the university, making James Milo Waugh the only member of any fraternity on campus until fraternities were allowed to return to Purdue.

In 1881, Samuel T. Stallard, Esq., guardian of Sigma Chi member Thomas P. Hawley, filed a class action lawsuit against Purdue, which he lost. The case then went up to the Supreme Court, where the court ruled that there was “no impropriety in becoming a member of or being otherwise connected with the Sigma Chi fraternity.” Then on June 21, 1882, the Indiana Legislature attached a “rider” to an appropriation bill that forced Purdue to reduce restrictions on campus fraternities following this ruling. In September 1885, Sigma Chi members in the Delta Delta were granted permission by the university to be an active chapter once again.


0.363 Cubic Feet (One letter-size full-width manuscript box)


The materials are organized by type of material.

Acquisition Information

Most materials were compiled by Purdue Libraries staff. H.A. Huston's typescript was donated by Huston on June 14, 1943.

Processing Information

The material has been housed in acid-free folders and an acid-free box. Polyester sleeves were used where warranted. All newsprint has been photocopied and in most cases original newspaper clippings have been discarded.
Collection of Sigma Chi Fraternity Court Case materials
Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Third edition. Collection description first completed 2009-12-15.

Revision Statements

  • 2020-05-08: Collection description updated to new standards by Mary A. Sego.
  • 2024-02-16: Historical Information Note updated by Amelia Simpson and William Niner.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States