1879: The Society Takes Stock of Itself

Biographical Sketch of Willard Hall, 1879 (DHS Library Collection)

This year seems to find the Society at a crossroads and taking stock of itself both institutionally and financially as it thinks about how to move forward as an organization.  Joseph R. Walter, the organization’s Historiographer, presented a report in which he not only gave an overview of his position and duties up to that point, but also offered some suggestions for possible future improvements.  These suggestions included expanding the range of historical biographies collected to include not just Society members, but also other notable Delawareans as well.  Mr. Walter also proposes taking steps to better organize the collection of biographical sketches already in the Society’s possession and preparing a general history of the Society for the record.

Another key area in which the Society is taking stock is with regard to its membership policies.  The Treasurer’s report for this year states that the Society has forty-two reliable paying members, a number it would like to see increase.  However, opinion is divided as to how to go about this and a lively discussion ensues in the April 21, 1879 meeting between those who want to preserve the Society’s “membership by invitation only” model and those who want to open up membership to a more general audience. Unfortunately, no consensus was reached at the time (membership remained by invitation only) but, with over 800 current members and membership now available to everyone, these minutes offer an interesting picture of just how far we’ve come since then.


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