Skip to main content

Sigma Delta Chi. Northwestern University Chapter



The Northwestern University Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi Fraternity, a professional fraternity for journalists and students of journalism, was founded in 1921. Although most of the fraternity's activities involved its undergraduate members, “professional members” and the chapter advisor played important roles.

The fraternity's constitution enumerates Sigma Delta Chi's purpose: to associate journalists of talent, truth and energy into a more intimately organized unit of good fellowship, and in order to assist the members in acquiring the noblest principles of journalism and to cooperate with them in this field, and in order to advance the standard of the press by fostering a higher ethical code, thus increasing its value as an uplifting social agency. . . .

Most Sigma Delta Chi activities were conceived with this purpose in mind. Typical fraternity activities included meetings with various journalists and other prominent individuals. In order to enhance relations between the students and journalists, the fraternity also included “professional members.” Notable among the professional members of the Northwestern University chapter was Colonel Robert R. McCormick, editor and publisher of the Chicago Daily Tribune.

When the fraternity initiated McCormick in the mid-1940's, the Sigma Delta Chi chapter at the University of Colorado objected, claiming that “It is obvious that Robert R. McCormick does not subscribe to these principles [of the Sigma Delta Chi constitution] because in his paper he allows his own prejudice to distort the facts by selection, emphasis and coloration.” McCormick was also accused of not “confining his opinion to the editorial page” and of continuing “to uphold the ideas of destructive ultra-nationalism.” Apparently, however, the Northwestern University chapter did not respond to the Colorado chapter's charges.

Of special interest to Sigma Delta Chi members was Alberto Gainza Paz's visit to Northwestern University in the Fall of 1951. Dr. Gainza Paz was the editor of La Prensa, an Argentine newspaper that had been seized by the government. The self-exiled editor received an honorary degree from the University and became a Sigma Delta Chi Fellow during his visit. Many prominent publishers, including Hearst, Pulitzer, and Knight, attended a banquet in Gainza Paz's honor sponsored by Sigma Delta Chi and a number of other organizations.

Another important activity of the Northwestern University Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi was its annual joint sponsorship, with the Inland Daily Press Association, of a typography and photography competition. The winners were selected from newspapers throughout the United States.

The fraternity also sponsored less serious events. Its annual “Gridiron Show” was a series of satirical skits followed by a banquet and dance. Other activities included publishing a chapter newspaper and attending the annual national convention.

For many years, Professor Floyd Arpan served as the chapter's advisor. His duties included corresponding with professional members and with the national organization, as well as advising the chapter on its affairs. Professor Arpan also served as national Vice President for Undergraduate Chapter Affairs during the 1949-1950 academic year.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Sigma Delta Chi Northwestern University Chapter Records

Identifier: 31/6/4

This series consists of four boxes of records of the Northwestern University Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi Fraternity. The records, covering the years 1924-1953, include correspondence, financial records, membership listings, and four disassembled scrapbooks of materials pertaining to chapter activities.

Dates: 1924-1953