Winthrop S. Sterling  Elizabeth Mathias

Visit the Mu Phi Epsilon Music Library and Archives for more historical resources. Questions for our archivist? Contact Wendy Sistrunk.

Our Founders
Mu Phi Epsilon was founded at the Metropolitan College of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 13, 1903 by Professor Winthrop S. Sterling, Dean of the College, and Elizabeth Mathias (later married to John W. Fuqua), a member of the faculty.

The Founding
Professor Winthrop S. Sterling had in mind a sorority for women comparable in aim to Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity for men, of which he was a member. He founded Mu Phi Epsilon to advance the cause of music in America, and at the same time, develop fine young women bound together in friendship through their common interest in the art of music.

The first Mu Phi Epsilon chapter established was Alpha Chapter, organized with eight charter members including Miss Mathias. The Constitution and Bylaws were adopted, the design of the badge and shield selected, the colors and flower chosen, and the aims and ideals were established during those first meetings.

During the very first month, Mu Phi Epsilon began to expand with the installation of Beta Chapter, at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 13, 1903. Within the first year, Gamma Chapter at the University of Michigan School of Music in Ann Arbor, Michigan was installed on May 20, 1904.

With the installation of Alpha Tau Chapter on November 13, 1962, at the Philippine Women’s University in Manila, Philippine Islands, Mu Phi Epsilon became international.

Today Mu Phi Epsilon has established 227 collegiate chapters, 113 alumni chapters and more than 75,000 members.

The Sorority changed status from the originally chartered National Music sorority to function as an Honor Society in 1935. In 1944, it changed again to function as a Professional Music Sorority, after definitions of general, honor and professional sororities were formulated and accepted by the National Conference on College Fraternities and Societies.

Mu Phi Epsilon became a co-educational Professional Music Fraternity in 1977 in compliance with federal regulations of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.