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International Order of the King's Daughters and Sons

158 WEST 23rd STREET, Manhattan, 1893

Headquartered in Chautauqua, New York, the International Order of the King's Daughters and Sons is an interdenominational Christian philanthropic organization. Also known as "The King's Daughters and Sons" or "KDS," the organization's mission statement is derived from the Bible's Mark 10, verse 45: “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Its stated objective is: "The development of Spiritual Life and Stimulation of Christian Activity." [1]

With a roster of between 3,500 to 4,000 members as of 2018, the majority of whom reside in Canada or the United States, its members have been active supporting hospitals, homes for the elderly, thrift shops, and child care centers, as well as in providing scholarships for people in the health fields, those mastering in divinity, and to Native Americans.[2]

The organization is divided into "Circles" of three or more members; a state or province wide group of "Circles" are called "Branches".[3] The organization at one time had "Unions" and "Chapters".[4]

The Order was based in New York City until 1972, when it moved to its current residence at Chautauqua, New York.[5]



Established in New York City, New York in 1886 with a membership of ten founding women who were active with Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches in the area, the International Order of The King's Daughters and Sons held its first meeting on January 13 of that year at the New York City home of Margaret McDonald Bottome (1825-1906), a leader in the Methodist church who had become known for her hosting of Bible study sessions and other salons. Bottome reportedly was inspired to host the meeting by Edward Everett Hale, a Unitarian minister who had risen to nationwide prominence as an abolitionist and writer for the Atlantic Monthly prior to the American Civil War, and had then achieved wider name recognition through his establishment and promotion of "Lend-A-Hand" clubs across America — the motto of which became "Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand."[6]

Mary Lowe Dickinson, 1895.

Invited by Bottome to attend that initial meeting were eight of the organization's other nine founding members: Mary Lowe Dickinson,[7] Mrs. C. DePeyster Field, Helen Hammersley, Mrs. Theo. Irving, Georgia Libby, Mary F. Payson, Mrs. J. F. Ruggles, and Susan B. Schenck. Isabella Charles Davis also became one of the organization's first ten members. As new chapters were formed, each was allowed to choose its own service mission and initially referred to as a "Ten" rather than a "chapter" — a designation which was later changed to "Circle."[8]

Elected as president of the organization, Bottome held that post until her death in 1906. Irving has been credited as the founding member who suggested the organization's name, "The King's Daughters." Dickinson, who was appointed as the organization's general secretary in 1887 and then held that post for the remainder of her life, launched and became editor of the group’s magazine, The Silver Cross, in 1888, and also penned the lyrics for the group’s hymn, Lead Now as Forth We Go, which were set to the music of Nearer My God to Thee.[9] In addition to helping to raise the profile of The King's Daughters and Sons via articles published in newspapers across the United States and lectures before audiences at such venues as the Dansville Water Cure,[10] Dickinson was later also elected president of the National Council of Women of the United States.[11]

Membership quickly grew to 50,000 women and expanded from chapters across the United States to include circles in countries across the globe. One of America's earliest chapters was the Lend-A-Hand Club in Davenport, Iowa. Offering a safe environment to socialize for women living and working away from their homes, the club was an affiliate of Hale's Lend-A-Hand network, and operated from various locations throughout its history, including a department store in the city's downtown area. As the club grew, so did its amenities, which included a bath and shower area, cafeteria, gymnasium, laundry, parlor, and reading rooms. Arts and crafts programs were offered as were lecture series on women's topics. By 1922, club leaders had raised enough money to construct the organization's own facility, a building which was located on South Main Street across from the Dillon Memorial. Housed here from the time of the building's completion until the club's closing during the 1960s, the club presented lectures addressing women's suffrage and workplace issues, and offered members access to dormitory rooms and a swimming pool.[12]

After men and boys began requesting admission in 1887, the organization began expanding its membership base further and, in 1891, changed its name to The King’s Daughters and Sons. By 1896, Canada's chapter had grown to 6,000 members with 26 branches in the United States. Circles had also been formed in Europe, Japan, China, Syria and India.[13]

In October 1911, the organization's Connecticut chapter held its 16th annual convention in Bridgeport at that city's First M.E. Church. Among those in attendance were the international organization's president and general secretary, Kate Bond and Mary Lowe Dickinson.[14]

The international organization then hosted its first general convention in Louisville, Kentucky in 1912. In 1972, the organization moved its headquarters from New York City to Chautauqua, New York.[15]

Motto and symbolEdit

According to Sue Buck, who penned a brief history about the group, leaders of the organization adopted a small, silver Maltese cross as the badge to be worn by members, and chose the words "In His Name" as the phrase members would use as their "watchword." The organization's motto was derived from the motto adopted by Edward Everett Hale's Lend-A-Hand Clubs, and remains:[16][17]

Look up and not down,
Look forward and not back,
Look out and not in, And lend a hand.

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ Archived from the original on June 6, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Archived from the original on June 6, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Archived from the original on June 6, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Preuss, Arthur A Dictionary of Secret and other Societies St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co. 1924; republished Detroit: Gale Reference Company 1966; p.202
  5. ^ Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Margaret Bottome and Her Work." Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles Herald, February 1, 1903.
  7. ^ Emerson, William A. ”Mary Caroline Dickinson”, in Fitchburg Massachusetts, Past and Present, pp. 101-105. Fitchburg, Massachusetts: Press of Blanchard & Brown, 1887.
  8. ^ Buck, Sue. “A Brief History.” Chautauqua, New York: International Order of the King’s Sons and Daughters, retrieved online August 1, 2018.
  9. ^ Buck, "A Brief History."
  10. ^ Cayleff, Susan E. Wash and Be Healed: The Water-Cure Movement and Women’s Health. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Temple University Press, 1987, p. 95.
  11. ^ The Women of the Nation: Changes Made in the National Council’s Constitution.” Los Angeles, California: The Herald, February 27, 1895.
  12. ^ Svendsen, Marls A., Bowers, Martha H (1982). Davenport where the Mississippi runs west: A Survey of Davenport History & Architecture. Davenport, Iowa: City of Davenport. pp. 14–6.
  13. ^ Buck, "A Brief History."
  14. ^ State King’s Daughters: Meetings to Be Held at Bridgeport Next Week.” Norwich, Connecticut: Norwich Bulletin, October 5, 1911.
  15. ^ Buck, "A Brief History."
  16. ^ "Margaret Bottome and Her Work," Los Angeles Herald.
  17. ^ Buck, "A Brief History."

External linksEdit