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National Fraternity Partners with HistoryIT to Build Digital Legacy

Sigma Alpha Epsilon begins bold initiative to share their entire archive online

Evanston, IL, May 24, 2017 – Sigma Alpha Epsilon has launched the first phase of an ambitious project to ensure that their 161-year-old history is preserved for future generations.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Digital Legacy is the result of a collaboration between Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s National Foundation and HistoryIT. The site created for the Fraternity showcases several hundred of the more than four million images, documents and artifacts collected since the Fraternity was founded in 1856.

The Fraternity plans to continue expanding the digital collection site by adding more content from its archival holdings — materials ranging from its 19th-century founding during the Civil War to photographs of SAEs serving during World War I, drawings by Louis Tiffany to a portrait of SAE and U.S. President William McKinley — each of these images paint a vivid picture of an organization whose history often reflects that of the United States over the past century and a half.

“Telling our story from the past, present and long into the future, through the eyes of our men, connects us more deeply,” says Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation President and CEO Will Grimsley. “This continuum will serve to enable significant results in member education, recruitment of the best young men, sustained commitment of our alumni and scholarly research.”

A team from HistoryIT assessed the Fraternity’s vast archival holdings, most of which were located in the attic of the Levere Memorial Temple, since many of them were beginning to deteriorate.

“It was a pleasure working with the team at the headquarters, whose forward-thinking leadership recognizes the importance of preserving historical collections so that they can serve as the evidence for our stories about the past,” says History IT Founder and CEO Kristen Gwinn-Becker, PhD. “Without this commitment to digital stewardship, countless records of the Fraternity’s — and nation’s — past would be lost.”

Parts of the beta digital collection site are available to the public, while other portions are accessible to members only. Highlights of the site’s first phase include digitized photographs, scrapbooks and publications, as well as a timeline that traces U.S. and Sigma Alpha Epsilon history, and an interactive exhibit that includes photographs and letters from World War I. The Foundation has embarked on a fundraising campaign to finance the digitization of the remainder of the collection.

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