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Epsilon Sigma Phi records

 Collection 0007-UA

The Tau Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi was organized at the University of Maryland in 1928. This chapter of the honorary fraternity for agricultural extension agents has emphasized the attainment of professional excellence and the encouragement of 4-H programs, among other goals. The files of the Tau Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi include correspondence, reports, publications, photographs, financial records, and documentation of members' achievements.


  • 1928-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1928-1985

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

This collection contains restricted material, please check the series and folder listings for additional information.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


6.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The records of the Tau Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi cover the period 1928 to 2011 and contain correspondence, financial records, constitutions, directories, publications, and minutes. These records document the administrative activities and services of the chapter. Important subjects include Greek letter societies, the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities, 4-H, Smith-Lever Act, and the Federal Retirement Act. Among the correspondents are: Thomas A. Coleman; Seaman A. Knapp; A. Frank Lever; W. A. Lloyd; E. I. Oswald; Rep. Vincent L. Palmisano; Madge J. Reese; S. B. Shaw; Georgianan Smurwaite; Thomas B. Symons; and James Wilson.

Administrative History

Epsilon Sigma Phi is an honorary professional fraternity for agricultural extension agents. Founded on January 10, 1927, in Bozeman, Montana, the fraternity soon attracted members nationwide. According to the fiftieth anniversary handbook for the Tau Chapter, the purpose of the fraternity was "to promote fellowship among Extension workers, to uphold ideals of superior work and to encourage advanced training." The fraternity met these goals by recognizing outstanding extension workers with awards, by establishing a scholarship loan fund for the use of members, and by holding an annual banquet and meeting at which members socialized and participated in a program relating to extension work. Epsilon Sigma Phi also pushed for colleges to grant academic rank, sabbatical leave, and other privileges to extension employees and was instrumental in the movement to provide retirement benefits for agricultural extension workers.

Mr. William A. Lloyd, a representative of the Cooperative Extension Service, organized the Tau Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi at College Park, Maryland, on January 19, 1928. There were thirteen charter members; Thomas B. Symons was the first chief. To be considered for membership, candidates for induction had to have performed satisfactory service for at least ten years as an extension worker; the period was reduced to five years in 1964. Candidates also had to be currently employed at least half-time by the University of Maryland and/or by the federal Extension Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

Traditionally the Tau Chapter held one meeting a year, at the time and place of the Annual Extension Conference. There were also several executive meetings a year, and occasionally spring and fall meetings were held. To foster continuing education, the Tau Chapter made membership loans and scholarships available for members. The Chapter also encouraged 4-H programs through their 4-H Recognition Award to county leaders. In 1952 the Tau Chapter started the Hall of Service to recognize those persons who had completed twenty-five years of work in extension, and in 1975, the chapter initiated the Rookie of the Year Award, recognizing a person who had been on the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service staff for more than one year but less than two and who had shown special talent and energy in carrying through a program.

The Tau Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi continues to be active in 2015.


The records are organized into two series and five subseries:

Series 1
Tau Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi
Series 2
Grand Council of Epsilon Sigma Phi

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The records of the Tau Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi were deposited by Theodore L. Bissell, historian for Tau Chapter, in the University of Maryland Libraries on March 29, 1965. Additional materials separated from various university archival record groups during processing were incorporated into the collection in January 2000. Material donated by Dr. Richard Angus in 2011and David Ross in 2014 was incorporated into the collection in 2015.

Related Material

Materials related to this collection may be found in the Papers of Theodore L. Bissell, the Papers of Thomas B. Symons, and the Records of the Cooperative Extension Services held in the Archives and Manuscripts Department. Publications in the university publications collection under "Cooperative Extension Service" and "Agricultural Extension Service" may also be of interest. In addition, the resource guide, "Agriculture in Maryland," provides an annotated, selected list of holdings in the Archives and Manuscripts Department that relate to various aspects of agriculture in Maryland.

Processing Information

Staples were pulled and replaced with plastic clips. Items were refoldered in acid-free folders. Photographs were moved to the photograph collection. Fraternity pin and pendant moved to the memorabilia collection.

Guide to the Epsilon Sigma Phi records
Processed by NKW.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742