The History of Sigma Theta Tau

Sigma Theta Tau was founded in 1922 by six nursing students at Indiana University. Modern nursing was barely 20 years old when Mary Tolle, Edith Moore, Marie Hippensteel, Dorothy Garrigus, Elizabeth Russell, and Elizabeth McWilliams met to found a society to advance the status of nursing as a profession. They recognized the value of scholarship and the importance of excellence in practice. With the full idealism of women forging pathways of change in the 1920s, they wanted to build a framework to encourage future leaders to effectively improve health care.

In 1936, Sigma Theta Tau was the first organization in the U.S. to fund nursing research. Since then, the society has underwritten more than 250 small or "seed" grants, which often begin a whole body of research. These peer-reviewed grants are often the first recognition of potent concepts that eventually lead to major, widescale research projects and innovation in the nursing profession.

In 1922, six students from the Indiana University Training School for Nurses in Indianapolis, Indiana, founded the honor society of nursing. The founders chose the society's name from the meaning of the Greek words Storge, Tharsos, and Time: "love," "courage," and "honor." As women ahead of their time, the founders' vision for the society helped bring recognition to nursing as a science. The society became incorporated in 1985 as Sigma Theta Tau International, Inc., to support and connect the global community of nursing scholars who enhance health care worldwide. The society is a not-for-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) status.