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National History

The first practical idea for establishing a “band sorority” as a national entity to meet the expressed needs of the growing number of women in college and university bands was presented by band member Wava Banes (Henry), along with her classmates, Emily SoRelle and Rose La Nell Williams, to director D.O. Wiley of the Texas Tech University Band in the closing months of 1937. This discussion led to a group of bandswomen at Texas Tech University founding a local organization known as “Tau Beta Sigma,” modeled in principle on the example of Kappa Kappa Psi. Much like the Fraternity, Tau Beta Sigma’s purpose at Tech was to serve as an honorary service and leadership recognition society, but it was designed especially to provide the important additional social, educational, and other positive experiences needed by women in the band.

Tau Beta Sigma founders

The first members of Tau Beta Sigma at Texas Tech.

In June of 1943, the Tech women petitioned the Grand Council of Kappa Kappa Psi to become an integral part of the national Fraternity as an active chapter. Accepting the group under these circumstances, however, would have entailed a complete revision of the Kappa Kappa Psi constitution. Because of the war, doubt was expressed as to just when the next fraternity convention would be held so that the issue could be brought to debate. Rather than postponing action on the women’s request indefinitely, a suggestion was made that Tau Beta Sigma form its own national organization, just as the National Fraternity had done in 1919. Until a national convention of Kappa Kappa Psi could be held and the matter clarified, Tau Beta Sigma could be considered the “sister organization” of the Fraternity. The Grand Council of Kappa Kappa Psi agreed that Tau Beta Sigma could share in all fraternal publications.


A. Frank Martin was also a founding member of Kappa Kappa Psi.

While applying for a national charter, the Tech Chapter encountered difficulties involving certain Texas state corporation laws. In 1945, A. Frank Martin, National Executive Secretary of Kappa Kappa Psi, was invited to meet with the women and work out a plan that would bring the Sorority the national status the Tau Beta Sigma women were seeking. Mr. Martin then suggested that the local band sorority currently in existence at Oklahoma State University apply for the charter, since fewer difficulties would be encountered in Oklahoma.

So, in January of 1946, the women of the Texas Tech Tau Beta Sigma Band Sorority, through their director, D.O. Wiley, graciously surrendered their name, “TAU BETA SIGMA,” their constitution, ritual and jewelry designs to the local band club at Oklahoma State University, in order that the national organization could be established. By doing so, the Tech women understood that they were permitting the Oklahoma State group the title of “Alpha, the Mother Chapter,” and accepted the status of “Beta Chapter,” the second chartered chapter. On March 26, 1946, a charter was granted by the Department of State for the State of Oklahoma legally establishing “Tau Beta Sigma, National Honorary Band Sorority,” later amended to “Tau Beta Sigma.” On May 4 of 1946, the members of the Alpha Chapter traveled to Lubbock, Texas, to officially install the women of Texas Tech as the Beta Chapter of the National Sorority.


Tau Beta Sigma's crest.

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