top of page

Other French Honoraries by Dr. Scott Fish


Dr. Edgar Ewing Brandon


Dr. A. H. Lubowski, 1932


Frank Covello, 1932


Sigma Pi Alpha insignia


Tau Psi Omega insignia


Ruth Goluboff, 1948.

In addition to the two national collegiate French honor societies Pi Delta Phi and Beta Pi Theta, other college and university local French honoraries or recognition societies, often originating from local French clubs, conversation groups or a Cercle Français, and sometimes claiming status as a national French honor society but without chartering other chapters, were founded between 1923 and 1948.

Phi Gamma Phi

Phi Gamma Phi was the Honorary French Fraternity established at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio during the 1922-1923 academic year by Dr. Edgar Ewing Brandon, Professor of Romance Languages. (1) The purpose of the honorary was "to afford a recognition to the student who has maintained a high standard of scholarship in the study of French", "to stimulate efforts in conversational French and to offer an opportunity for study of the life and institutions of France." (2) Phi Gamma Phi was retired when Beta Pi Theta chapter Pi Gamma was installed in 1929, and later in 1949 the Miami Beta Pi Theta chapter was retired with the installation of Pi Delta Phi chapter Alpha Eta–#32.

Iota Delta Phi

Iota Delta Phi, the French Honor society, was founded at California State University in San Jose in the fall of 1931 (3) and operated through the 1950s. The Greek letters were chosen from the first letters of the society's three-word French name: the Ile de France. The society, whose origins stem from a prior organization, Le Cercle Français, was founded by faculty member Dr. A. H. Lubowski and four student charter members, all of whom had been members of Le Cercle Français in 1930-31: Frank Covello, the society's first student president; Erma Saxon, Lucille Meyer, and Alfred Gorostordoy. The honorary's purpose was "to promote an active interest in the French language and to improve the student's speaking vocabulary." (4) Membership requirements included the completion of one year–later two years–of college French with a grade of at least a B, and a genuine interest in class-room activities. The organization later claimed the title of "National French Honorary" in 1951 (5) and is listed as "one of the four groups in the Western States to be recognized by the French consulate in San Francisco" in 1957. (6) Among the annual activities and community entertainments sponsored by the society include: dinners, short skits, guest lectures, musical soirées, and an annual play in French or English, examples of which included Tovarich by Jacques Deval and Le Malade imaginaire by Molière. Society photos appeared in the school's La Torre yearbook through 1957.










Sigma Lambda Alpha


Sigma Lambda Alpha was founded as a local French honorary fraternity in 1940 at Wallace Baldwin College in Berea, Ohio. Baldwin Wallace College had originally sponsored a chapter of Beta Pi Theta (chapter Theta), but when Beta Pi Theta ceased operations at the national level sometime prior to 1940 and was unable to reactivate after WWII, Wallace Baldwin French faculty member Dr. William Pendell reorganized the group into Sigma Lambda Alpha in 1940 as a local recognition society because, in part, "the members felt that they would gain more in forming their own organization." (7) Membership required a B average and "a genuine interest in French." (8) The first President was Virginia Richmond and the society sponsored a one-act play L'Anglais tel qu'on le parle by Tristan Bernard during its initial year. Confusion began to surface, however, in Baldwin Wallace yearbooks and college catalogues in which the group's designation was incorrectly labeled a national French honorary fraternity or society. If it difficult to understand how Dr. Pendell, who taught at Baldwin Wallace at least through 1959 and served as French department chair, did not know about Pi Delta Phi through the many publications and advertisements about the Society that appeared in the French Review from 1948-1955, including the announcement of new Pi Delta Phi Ohio chapters installed at Denison University (Alpha Beta) and Miami University (Alpha Eta) in 1949, at the University of Toledo (Beta Tau) in 1956, and at the University of Cincinnati (Beta Omega) in 1958. Furthermore, the foreign languages department chose to install a chapter of Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish) prior to 1944, and a chapter of Delta Phi Alpha (German) in 1937, rather than local Spanish or German recognition societies. A number of subsequent Baldwin Wallace college catalogues listed the organization among the institution's sponsored national academic honor societies, while through 2013 several Baldwin Wallace graduates claimed membership in Pi Delta Phi and/or the National French Honor Society on their social media accounts or online résumés. Pi Delta Phi wrote to Baldwin Wallace in 2013 to correct that oversight and today the Greek letters have been dropped and the society is known correctly once again as a local French recognition society.

Sigma Pi Alpha

Sigma Pi Alpha was a national modern languages fraternity (society) founded at North Caroline State College in 1927. The organization served on some campuses as a Spanish honorary, while on other campuses, such as Wake Forest University, as a French honorary. Known chapters included: Alpha–North Carolina State College; Beta–Catawba College; Epsilon–Wake Forest University; and Gamma–Mississippi State College. The official colors were red and gold, and the flower was the Fleur de Lys.

The organization held a national convention in April of 1936 at Wake Forest University; approximately 100 delegates representing eight colleges and universities attended. Accommodations for visiting delegates were provided by Wake Forest University. Events included an informal banquet at Jo William's boarding house, a play in French by author Tristan Bernard, L'Anglais tel qu'on le parle, organized by Professor C. A. Seibert, and a program of French vocal and instrumental music. (9)

Tau Psi Omega


Tau Psi Omega was a French honorary fraternity (society) established at Duke University in 1938. The organization grew out of Le Salon Français, a small group of enthusiastic students who met occasionally, starting in1932, at the home of onr the professors of Romance languages in order to improve their conversational skills in French. (10) The group quickly gained membership and began to meet on Thursday evenings for coffee, before changing its name to The French Club in 1935 and subsequently meeting every Wednesday in the President's Club Room for conversation, games, discussing current events, and giving short plays and skits. (11) When some advanced students desired a more limited group in order to gain greater proficiency in French, and through the efforts of the group's sponsors Dr. Neal Dow and his wife Marie Linière Dow, the French honorary Tau Psi Omega was founded in 1938; student Roscoe Lee Strickland, Jr. served as the first president of the local (Alpha) chapter. (12) The society's purpose was "to stimulate interest in the French language and culture" and membership was granted to those students who had achieved a B average in French. The society organized annual spring plays and one-act plays, including Il faut qu'une porte soit ouverte ou fermée by Alfred de Musset and Grigoire by Théodore de Banville. The society also established affiliation with nearby universities in the hopes of chartering other chapters, but it is not known if other chapters were chartered. (13)

The French Honor Society

Formerly known as Le Cercle Français, which was founded by Professor Emile B. De Sauzé in 1907 (14), the French Honor Society was organized at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1948 for "the purpose of developing greater facility in French conversation and fostering interest in French civilization and culture." (15) The first student President was Ruth Goluboff. Membership requirements included the completion of French 21, a B average (later changed to a C+ average overall and a B- average in French), and a recommendation by departmental faculty. (16) The society organized monthly meetings that included singing, dramatic presentations, bake sales, trips to New York museums and productions of French plays, guest speakers, and literary recitations. The society also sponsored French orphans for many years through fundraising efforts. The society remained active until Pi Delta Phi chapter Beta Iota (#57) was installed at Temple University in 1954.

(1) Miami Recensio yearbook, Miami University (1928): 204.

(2) Miami Recensio yearbook, Miami University (1928): 204.

(3) La Torre yearbook, California State University, San Jose (1932): 195.

(4) La Torre yearbook, California State University, San Jose (1932): 195.

(5) La Torre yearbook, California State University, San Jose (1951): 160.

(6) La Torre yearbook, California State University, San Jose (1957): 250.

(7) Grindstone yearbook. Baldwin Wallace College (1940): 17.

(8) Grindstone yearbook. Baldwin Wallace College (1940): 17.

(9) "Sigma Pi Alpha Convention Host" Old Gold and Black. 19:25, April 18, 1936, p. 1.

(10) The Chanticleer yearbook. Duke University (1940): 159.

(11) The Chanticleer yearbook. Duke University (1940): 159.

(12) Stickland later earned a Ph.D. in History, was a Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, and served as University President of Southern Virginia University.

(13) "Tau Psi Omega, French Honor Fraternity, Becomes National" The Duke Chronicle, 38:50, April 21, 1942, p. 1,4.

(14) Templar yearbook, Temple University (1923): 153.

(15) Templar yearbook, Temple University (1948): 253.

(16) Templar yearbook, Temple University (1948): 253.


Iota Delta Phi, 1932


Phi Gamma Phi, 1924

bottom of page