National Society of New England Women Records
The National Society of New England Women was incorporated by the state of New York on February 20, 1895. Its founder, Mrs. William Gerry (Emma) Slade, and fourteen other charter members met at Mrs. Slade's home in New York City on January 24, 1895 (Founder's or Organization Day), to establish the organization. The object of the society was "to promote social and intellectual intercourse among its members, to offer advice and assistance to women of New England birth or ancestry residing in portions of the United States other than New England."
In 1913 the society was reorganized under Mrs. Henry Clark Coe as President General. The members in New York City became the New York City Colony and the other branches which had formed across the country during the early years of the society also joined the national organization. The records of the New York City Colony contain the earliest history of the society.
In 1929 the mission of the society was revised to read: "to bring together, in social relations, women of New England ancestry, to engage in patriotic, civic and philanthropic work, thus to perpetuate the lofty ideals and examples of their forefathers." The society's activities continue to reflect the genealogical, patriotic, historical, educational, and charitable goals of its founders.
Membership requirements have varied slightly over the years, but membership has been open to women over eighteen years of age who are descendants of early New Englanders, having ancestors born in New England before the ratification of the Constitution in 1789. The prospective member submits genealogical proof and, once accepted by the colony and national organization, may join as a regular member. Other membership categories are member-at-large (for members in regions where no colonies have been organized), junior members (age six through eighteen), and cradle roll (from birth through age six).
Colonies are established in areas where interest is shown by five or more individuals who meet national membership requirements. Colonies meet regularly and may hear lectures about historical, genealogical, or other topics of interest, promote historical interest in their region, or support charitable work. In addition to local charities, the colonies contribute to charities sponsored by the national society.
In 1946 the society voted to make the New England Kurn Hattin Homes, Inc., of Vermont, residential schools for underprivileged boys and girls, a permanent interest of the society. In 1956 the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts, was added as another permanent interest. The society as a whole has also sponsored student loan funds at various colleges, the Helping Hand Fund to aid needy members, and the Soldier's, Sailor's, and Airmen's Club in New York City, among other projects.
The society holds an annual congress at which it conducts it business. A Board of Managers is formed from officers and committee chairs to direct society activities. The yearbooks contain organizational information about the officers and committees, as well as colony data.