Brief History of the Founding of
Tau Beta Sigma
The first practical idea for establishing a “band sorority” for college and university bandswomen came about during the spring semester of 1939. Wava Banes, along with two of her classmates (Emily SoRelle and Ruth La Nell Williams), took the idea to director D.O. Wiley of the Texas Technological College Band. The idea, patterned after Kappa Kappa Psi, began to come together the following semester and resulted in the campus organization Tau Beta Sigma. Much like the Fraternity, Tau Beta Sigma’s purpose at Tech was to serve as an honorary service and leadership recognition society, but was designed especially to provide the important additional social, educational, and other positive experiences needed by women in the band. The fledgling organization petitioned for recognition as an official campus organization from Dean of Women Mary Doak in spring 1940.
During these initial meetings of 1939-40, the women elected officers and began work on sorority crests and jewelry. The first officers of the organization were: president, Wava Banes; vice-president, Emily SoRelle; secretary, Lillian Horner; treasurer, Nita Furr; reporter, Barbara Griggs; and faculty sponsor, Mrs. D. O. Wiley. Miss SoRelle provided all of the sketch work on the emblem and shield that were adopted as the official emblems of the sorority. However, two of the founding members, Wava and Emily, graduated at the end of the spring 1940 term. As band enrollment changed due to participation in World War II, the girls of the Tech Bands continued to develop the fledgling organization. By October 1941, TBS had begun communications with the National Executive Secretary of Kappa Kappa Psi for assistance in becoming a national organization.
In June 1943, the Tech women petitioned the Grand Council of Kappa Kappa Psi to become an auxiliary 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. With World War II in progress, it was unsure as to when the National Chapter would hold their next convention where the issue could be brought to debate. Rather than postponing action on the women’s request indefinitely, the women at Texas Tech approached A. Frank Martin, Grand Executive Secretary of Kappa Kappa Psi, in January 1946 to provide assistance in forming their 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.
Through the assistance of A. Frank Martin, the ritual and National Constitution were completed. Likewise, the Balfour Company completed designs for the sorority badge and pledge pin. When applying for a national charter, D.O. Wiley and the girls at Texas Tech again turned to A. Frank Martin and offered to turn over their work and the name Tau Beta Sigma to the women’s band sorority at Oklahoma A&M, known as Kappa Psi, to submit the articles of incorporation in Oklahoma. Through this act, the chapter at Oklahoma A&M would become the Alpha Chapter. As part of this agreement, the chapter at Texas Tech, Beta, would be known as the founding location of the Sorority and the members stipulated that Wava Banes would be known as the Founder, the agreement also specified that the 1st National President would be from the Beta Chapter.
Similar women’s organizations at Colorado University and the University of Oklahoma submitted petitions to join with the Texas Tech and O.A.M.C. chapter prior to the official charter being received. 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.
Since that time, Tau Beta Sigma has expanded to over 230 campuses across the Unites States.