A Proud History
The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) was founded in the 1890’s by a group of socially prominent women who saw a pressing need to restore and preserve houses, monuments, and documents of our colonial past. This movement grew out of the original preservation group in America, the Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association in Virginia, founded in the 1850’s, which restored President George Washington’s deteriorating home. Prior to that time, no one in our young country had considered the issue of the need for private preservation measures. Subsequently, the momentum has grown rapidly and there are now many organizations, both government-run and private, involved in the preservation of US history. That said, the NSCDA has preserved more property than all other US organizations with the exception of the National Park Service. Members of the NSCDA are all direct lineal descendants of prominent colonial ancestors, both men and women, who have been identified as having performed significant service to the colonies prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. This distinguishes us from many other genealogical societies.
The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Connecticut (NSCDA-CT) was founded in 1893 by Elizabeth Colt and since 1919 it has owned and operated the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum at 211 Main Street in Wethersfield; also our headquarters. It is there that we hold our two general membership meetings per year as well as our major biennial fundraiser Tags and Treasures. We are in the midst of a major fundraising campaign to build an addition on the Webb House, a culmination of years of work and one that is extraordinarily exciting for the Society. This will allow the museum to run its education programs year-round.
On the national level we support our headquarters, Dumbarton House in Washington DC, Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason the author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, in Virginia, and Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of the Washington family in Buckinghamshire in England.
Like our ancestors, our members are prominent Connecticut women who have distinguished themselves in their communities, both privately and in their professions. Many of our members are sisters, daughters, and granddaughters of other Dames. We are a sponsorship society. Candidates must be well known to a current member and seconded by another. When a potential new candidate does not know a current member or has not been invited to apply for membership by a current member, we may help her identify members with whom she is acquainted or she may be invited to local Dames events to get to know us.
Application to the NSCDA-CT currently includes a $75.00 non-refundable fee. If a candidate is approved for membership by the board, usually in 2-3 months, she owes the balance of her initiation fee, an additional $75.00. At that point, she is contacted by the State Genealogist, who will help her complete the final lineage papers. The State Genealogist works as an independent contractor and her fee typically is $250.00, provided the candidate can supply all the documentation for the paperwork. Yearly dues for in-state membership are currently $150.00, payable at the time a candidate officially becomes a member. She must remain a member in good standing for three years prior to transferring to another of our state societies.
Please let me know if you would like to pursue membership. I will be happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Gail P. Faherty, Registrar NSCDA-CT.