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About   History

A Revolutionary Society in
the Modern Era, 1925–present

By the time the French Society was reconstituted, Society leaders had begun to discuss the need to establish a permanent headquarters. In 1938 this need was filled by an extraordinary gift. Isabel Anderson, acting on the wish of her late husband, Larz Anderson of the Virginia Society, gave the Society their elegant Washington mansion for use as its headquarters and as a memorial to the officers in the Continental service. Anderson House, as the mansion is called, has been the headquarters of the Society since 1938, serving as the fraternal center of the international organization and home to the Society's library, museum, and educational programs.

The establishment of an international headquarters in Washington reflected the ambition of the Society's leaders to increase the organization's stature and influence. It led to a dramatic increase in the number of members actively involved in the work of the General Society. For most of its history, the business of the General Society had been conducted by a few long-serving officers—too few to manage an increasingly large and complicated organization. In 1937, the General Society established a non-profit corporation to manage its programs and its tangible assets, with a corporate board drawn from the fourteen constituent societies and a series of committees charged with managing and supporting different aspects of the Society's work. Since 1951, presidents general have been limited to a single three-year term and rotation in all General Society offices has become the norm.

In recent decades, the Society has focused its energy on perpetuating the memory of the American Revolution and the ideals of the original members through a wide range of educational activities aimed at a broad public audience. It has become "one Society of Friends," dedicated to carrying out the purposes defined by the Institution. The constituent societies sponsor a wide range of educational efforts to memorialize the heroes of the Revolution and their ideals. The General Society maintains a growing scholarly library of materials on the era of the American Revolution, with one of the world's finest collections on the art of war in the age of Washington and Rochambeau. The General Society also mounts exhibitions based on its museum collections, which include a wide range of art and artifacts associated with the American Revolution and the history of the Society. Anderson House, which is one of the finest historic house museums in Washington, attracts visitors from every state and dozens of foreign countries every year. It has become, particularly in the last decade, a magnet for scholars and increasingly for teachers and students of the Revolutionary era, with public lectures, symposia, and other activities that fulfill the founders' vision of perpetuating the memory of "that vast event," the establishment of American independence.

The Society's Headquarters

at Anderson House


Anderson House, originally the home of Society member Larz Anderson, features the Society Eagle insignia and other reminders of its purpose and ideals throughout the house in murals and other features.

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