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National Society of New England Women records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00372

Scope and Contents

The NSNEW records consist of correspondence, minutes, genealogical records, membership applications and indexes, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, memorabilia, and other material dating from its founding in 1895. The bulk of the records date from c. 1913 when the organization became a national society. Earlier national documentation may be found in the records of the New York City Colony.

While the records will most often be used to study the history of the society, they also reflect the general goals and activities of patriotic societies in the United States, many of which were founded during the same period in American history. The membership of the society mirrors its beliefs and, in its fluctuating size, the patriotic inclinations of the entire country. This portion of the United States' population may also be studied for its genealogical origins and ongoing social activities.

Dates of Materials

  • 1895-2011


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, the National Society of New England Women (NSNEW) have assigned the copyright in their works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by NSNEW, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

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.


140.23 linear feet (255 containers)


The NSNEW records document the history of the society, as well as the general goals and activities of patriotic societies in the United States. The records may also be studied for the genealogical origins of its members and ongoing social activities. Materials include correspondence, minutes, genealogical records, membership applications and indexes, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, memorabilia, and other material dating from its founding.


This collection is organized into ten series:

  1. I. National--General
  2. II. National--Annual Congresses and Conventions
  3. III. National Officers
  4. IV. National Boards
  5. V. National Committees
  6. VI. National Yearbooks
  7. VII. National Membership Applications
  8. VIII. National Proofs
  9. IX. National Card Indexes
  10. X. Colonies
  11. Memorabilia and Oversize Materials

Other Finding Aids

A legacy finding aid with more detailed information about this collection is available in this downloadable document: finding aid to the National Society of New England Women records.

Additions to the Collection

Periodic additions to collection are expected.

Related Material

Associated material can be found in the National Society of New England Women. New York City Colony Records, Sophia Smith Collection. The NSNEW has published its quarterly newsletter (see the Sophia Smith Collection periodical collection) since 1963.

Processing Information

Processed by Amy Hague, 1992.

National Society of New England Women records
Finding Aid
Amy Hague
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss154 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:11-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063