Citation: Dwight L. Dumond, ed., Grindstone (Berea, OH: Baldwin-Wallace College, 1921), p. 126-129.
Up to the year 1868, only one society existed for gentlemen in this school. In the spring of 1868, however, it was thought expedient to found a new society; the Germania society having become too large. For this purpose the following men came together to found a new society: Oldenhage, Steinhage, Schneider, Nagler, Bockstahler, Horst, Bibighauser, Hiller, and Graessle. These gentlemen united themselves, as they expressed it, '' To cultivate themselves, both socially and morally, by literary contributions, and to develop the- talents bestowed upon them by a benevolent power.''
After much debating over a name appropriate for the new society, it was derided to name it after the great German poet, Fredrich von Schiller. The society was open to any student of G.W.C. or B.U. who presented a good moral character. The constitution was written both in German and English, and works were brought in either of these languages.
The Schiller society assembled from its beginning in the old brick building which stood where the present Memorial Hall now stands. But their hall was by no means so inviting and pleasant as it has since become. It was in an abode fitter for bats and owls than for a literary society. The walls were bare, the floor in a dilapidated condition, the ceiling so deficient that, to use the words of an old Schiller Brother, "We would crowd around the stove with our umbrellas open to prevent the rain drenching us.'' Such was the condition of our Brothers. It was often said of the Schillers that they were wild and ungodly: The ministers of the different Conferences, especially, were active in scattering such reports, and persuading young men coming here not to join the Schiller Society. The fact that our members were not strictly theologians, but gave more attention to the natural sciences and to mathematic was styled "Ungodly." But that the Schillers were not so wicked as generally represented by the ministers appears from the fact that all but two of the Founders of the Schiller Society became ministers in the Methodist Conferences; one of the remaining two (Mr. Steinhage) became a minister in the Lutheran Church, and the other (Dr. J. Schneider) became a noted physician of Cleveland.
During the period 1868 to 1875 little is known of the activities of the Society except that tremendous difficulties were placed in its way by members of the Faculty and others. At the end of this period it was thought best to have the Society incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio. Accordingly the Society was incorporated as a Legal body in 1875. This enabled the society to seek redress, by law, in case of emergency.
The Schiller Society and the Mother Society were not always on the best of terms. It would be nonsense to recall now the causes of these differences, which were often carried to the extreme by both parties. The two societies, however, often entertained each other in former years, and during the past few years have been most friendly in their relations with each other. With the Alethean and Clionian Societies of Baldwin University the Schillers have from the first been very friendly. Our records bear testimony of the good will each had for the other, and some of the happiest hours of the Schiller Bro's were spent in the company of these Societies.
In the year 1875 there arose a heated controversy between the members of the Society and the Faculty over the placing of curtains on the Society Room stage, and over the presentation of dramas at the Society's literary programs. It was regarded as unchristianlike to present dramas, and the Society was often referred to as "The Theatre." So bitter became the controversy that to openly acknowledge membership was to invite disgrace. During this period the friendship of the Clionian and Alethean Societies was stronger than ever before, and our record are free in their acknowledgement of its value in these the most trying years of the Societies' history.
On September 16, 1896, the Societies drew lots for the rooms in the present Memorial Bldg. A committee, W. Jend, D. Beck, W. Marting, A. Kloksiem, and A. Underlick, had charge of the preparation of the room. At this time the justly famous Schiller quartette earned hundreds of dollars, which were used in decorating the room. The quartette consisted of Jend Beck, Kloksiem, and Haas. At one of the combined Orchestra and Quartette concerts $225 were realized. ' This period, until the year 1908, was the most prosperous of the Society's history. During that time the membership of the Society varied from about twenty to thirty-eight members, and the Society was held in high esteem, by all connected with the institution, for its splendid literary and social activities. From 1908 to 1911 the membership decreased 1mtil in the autumn of 1910 there were only five members to take up the work d the Society. From that time until this the Society has remained prosperous. Recent years contain a long list of members who were recognized leaders in the school. Who does not remember such men as Wood, Wesley, Speckmann, Bowser, Koehnemann, Ficken, Pfiefer, Tubbesing, Gensemer, any many others?
On May 6, 1917, one month after war was declared, nine of our men left school and departed for overseas service where they remained until early in the summer of '19. Many other members of the Society left soon afterward 128 and served our country well during the period of the war. We pause here to pay tribute to our Brother Lewis C. Wood, scholar, philosopher, friend. Man of more noble soul was never student" here, and we are proud to say of him; "He was a Schiller." Wood lies buried in Belgium. where he fell under the fierce fire of the German Archies. His memory will linger forever with us who knew and loved him.
The war period dealt harshly with the school, as with all Colleges, and it was to be taken as a matter of course that the Society, too, would suffer. But not so. Last autumn found the Society filled with strong capable men. Early in the present year the name of Sigma Phi was adopted. Schiller traditions still live in the spirit of the Society, and it has been an exceedingly prosperous year.
See: student web exhibit, curated by Jack Loftus at https://schillersociety-bw.weebly.com
Those who maintain a high average in Spanish are initiated into the honorary fraternity of Sigma Delta Pi. Programs of movies and speeches by capable authorities give the members a deeper insight into the conditions of the Americas to the south of us.
The national Spanish honorary for superior Spanish students was established on B-W's campus in 1937. The purpose of the group is to promote wider knowledge and greater interest in the Spanish language and the Spanish-speaking countries. Dr. Mercer is the Faculty Advisor.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority was founded in 1922 at Butler University. In 1929 it became a national collegiate sorority. Here at Baldwin-Wallace the Theta Kappa Chapter was founded in April 12, 1980. This is only one of two sororities that is black. Sigma Gamma Rho's main purpose is service oriented organization which strives to help the community. The sorority also strives for the highest possible achievements in education. The Sigma Gamma Rho's motto is "Greater Service, Greater Progress." "Bearing the colors Royal Blue and Gold, the Sigma Gamma Rho story will prevail and continue to be told."
The purpose of this society is to promote increased interest in French culture and to encourage greater excellence in the study of French. Members work closely with the Alliance Francaise to provide a varied program of activities. Each year the organization participates in the foreign language Christmas caroling. Other activities include participation in Cultural Emphasis Month and the Model UN.
Sigma Sigma Delta is the youngest of the social societies on the Baldwin-Wallace Campus, and so is not as rich in tradition or history as are the other societies, nevertheless each year finds it adding much to a growing tradition and history.
With the recent growth of the college it was felt that there should be an open sorority, so the Calumet Club, organized in 1931, was then organized as the local chapter of the national sorority Sigma Sigma Delta.