Hermesian Society

Ouachita's first social organizations were the literary societies, groups that promoted writing, rhetoric, and oratory -- as well as social life. The first of these societies at Ouachita was the Adelphian Circle, formed in 1886. An internal dispute in the Circle in 1888 led to the formation of two men's literary societies, the Philomathean and the Hermesian. The Hermesian Society is the direct ancestor of Rho Sigma. In many ways, Rho Sigma is a continuation of the earlier group.

One of Rho Sigma's charter members, Harry Addison Hardage, was the son of the main founder of the Hermesians, Arkadelphia's Judge Josiah "Joe" Hardage. It was no accident that the purposes, colors, and character of the two groups are virtually identical. Both the Hermesians and Rho Sigma exist primarily for the "betterment of Ouachita." Both use red and white, an unusual choice for Ouachita since our archrival Henderson uses red as its main color. And, both groups drew members primarily from the athletic and military departments of the college. Both groups believed in a balance between social life and scholarship.

The Hermesian Society lasted from 1888-1930. Harry Hardage entered Ouachita in 1931, only months too late to join his father's society. It is not much of a stretch to make the connection between the formation of Rho Sigma when Hardage was a senior and the earlier Hermesian Society.

Hardage may also have been behind the adoption of red shirts, white ties, white trousers, and white shoes as the "uniform" of early Red Shirts. That exact same outfit was worn by Arkadelphia High School yell leaders of the period. As a graduate of AHS, Hardage would have certainly realized that.

It is clear that Rho Sigma's heritage stretches back further than 1935. Under a different name, they were present almost from Ouachita's beginning.

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