top of page


August 27, 1890 – December 21, 1981

According to the 1914 Howard University yearbook, Founder Charles I. Brown is documented as Finished Howard Academy, 1910; Class Chaplain, 1913; Chaplain Classical Club, 1912-1913; President Classical Club, 1914; Vice-President Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, 1914; will do post-graduate work in Latin. In addition, Founder Brown was chosen “The Most To Be Admired” for the Class of 1914.

Founder Brown is said to have been born in Topeka, Kansas in 1890. Census records show that his father was Rev. John M. Brown and that his mother was Maggie M. Brown. However, records at Howard University from 1910 have Founder Brown living at 1813 Titan Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He was very cordial and very popular with the student body and Howard University administration. He is credited with choosing the nine charter members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Founder Brown founded the Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, on April 9, 1917 and was a teacher at the Kansas Industrial School for Negroes in Topeka, Kansas.

Census records and oral interviews have showed us that Founder Brown was alive in the Topeka, Kansas area until 1931. Some believe that he was a casualty of the First World War; others believe that he moved overseas. In the spring of 1949, Founder Leonard F. Morse wrote “We live in daily hope that we shall one day learn the fate of our beloved Brother and Founder”.

In the 1914 Howard University yearbook, under the Personals and Applied Quotations section, Founder Brown left us with this, “No legacy is so rich as honesty”. Founder Brown graduated from Howard University on June 3, 1914. The last correspondence that the fraternity received from him was a letter to Founder Taylor in 1924, in which Founder Brown indicated that he was teaching in Kansas.

It was the hope of every Sigma Man, that Founder Brown went on to live a productive and fruitful life – but the story of his disappearance, along with the rumors of what may have happened, continued in the organization for over 80 years.

For more than 80 years, Sigma men pondered what may have happened with Founder Brown. It was hoped that he went on to live a productive and fruitful life – but the story of his disappearance, and speculation about what may have happened became folklore within the brotherhood. In 2015, a breakthrough occurred. A group of Sigma men who were determine to find out what happened with Founder Brown, enlisted the help of professional researchers and with the full support of the Fraternity, were able to track Founder Brown to his final resting place. Indeed, he had kept his commitment to the cause of Sigma, living and serving his last years in a Catholic parish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founder Charles Ignatius Brown kept his promise to his brothers in Sigma!

In the year 2015, the breakthrough occurred. With the small group of Sigma Brothers who started the search at the grass-roots level, along with the professionals that aided the movement, and with the full support of the Fraternity… Founder Charles Ignatius Brown was found!

Founder Charles I. Brown


bottom of page