Sigma Gamma Association Records

Accession Number: 
22.75 linear feet (14 SB, 6 OS), 167.3 MB (7 tiffs)

The Sigma Gamma Association started with a handful of Detroit-area young women meeting
together for social activities and intellectual discussions in 1904. They soon formalized their club with a constitution and started performing charitable activities for local children. They notably raised money for the Women’s Hospital infant’s ward, doing so through social fundraisers and an annual fair. After years spent steadily increasing their numbers and philanthropy, the polio outbreak of 1916 precipitated the Sigma Gammas to focus their mission on pediatric orthopedics. This led to the establishment of the Sigma Gamma Clinic for Crippled Children in 1920 (Renamed the Detroit Orthopedic Clinic in 1936). At a time when polio’s symptoms physically isolated its victims from greater society, the Sigma Gammas sought to maintain a typical childhood experience for their wards by providing daily academic classes and hosting social activities. The clinic was an all-inclusive institution, providing full medical care to children no matter their financial standing, race, or religion. The following years were a time of expansion for the Sigma Gamma Association’s operations. The Clinic purchased additional lands and facilities, developed comprehensive long-term patient care, pioneered recovery treatments and corrective braces, and established a hospital school for the young patients.

The decline of polio forced the Sigma Gamma Association to alter its mission once again. The hospital school and Detroit Orthopedic Clinic closed, but they soon reopened a new state-of-the-art outpatient clinic on Woodward Avenue in 1960 and specialized in treating cerebral palsy. By the 1970’s, the clinic changed its name again, to the current Detroit Institute for Children, and started treating a broader range of childhood disabilities. Today, the DIC is nationally recognized as one of the top treatment facilities for children with disabilities. Though the focus and scope has changed over the years, the Sigma Gamma Association still operates to this day, raising money for the DIC.

The Sigma Gamma Association Records contain the papers documenting key organizational decision-making processes along with assembled histories of the association throughout its existence. The Sigma Gammas created several affiliate institutions throughout their history, but this collection primarily focuses on records directly from the Sigma Gamma Association with some materials from the Detroit Institute for Children. Record types prominently featured include board of trustees meeting minutes, by-laws, draft constitutions, promotional brochures, financial reports, annual reports, fundraising records, copies of their publication Gamma Rays: The Bulletin of the Sigma Gamma Association, and correspondence. Also included are dozens of scrapbooks that gather together the organization’s history with newspaper clippings, photographs, and select organizational records. A collection of photographs depicts past members and events of Sigma Gamma. The final section is the oversize materials, comprising architectural drawings, portraits of members, signs from past office buildings, and other large items.

1907-2001, bulk 1950-1999
Attachment(click to download)
UR001772.pdfUR001772_guide.pdf175.58 KB