December 12, 2017

History of the Society

ThomasWBicknell

Thomas W. Bicknell

For over one hundred years, the National Society Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims has been dedicated to preserving both the genealogies and histories of our Pilgrim ancestors. From the foundations of American religious freedom, to Thanksgiving, to early Colonial history itself, the individuals from whom our members descend played a vital role in the development of our national identity.

Founded in 1908 by Thomas Williams Bicknell, NSSDP is dedicated to perpetuating the memory and fostering and promoting the principles and virtues of the Pilgrims. For the purpose of the Society, the term “Pilgrim” denotes any immigrant who settled before 1700 within the territory which began the forty-eight contiguous states of the United States of America without regard to religion or place of origin.

At the time the Society was founded, on December 21, 1908, ten gentlemen met in Providence, Rhode Island, at the invitation of Dr. Thomas Williams Bicknell.  There they organized the Society, which was incorporated in Rhode Island on December 21, 1909.  Dr. Bicknell died in 1925 at the age of ninety-one.  He was a teacher, lecturer, member of the Massachusetts Legislature, and the father of three children.  The Society struggled for a time immediately after Dr. Bicknell’s death, until the time of the third Governor General, Mrs. Catherine Stewart Kulling.  The first lady to hold office, it was under her oversight that the strength of the Society grew significantly.

Many years have passed since those early years, and NSSDP has continued to grow and prosper.  The objects of the Society are philanthropic, religious, educational, and scientific.  Members commemorate events in the history of the Pilgrims, erect durable memorials to historic men, women, and events, and encourage the study and research of Pilgrim history, especially as related to the foundation of civil government on the principles of religious freedom.  In addition, they strive to promote social rights, civic virtue, industrial freedom, political equality, and the supremacy of just laws, the value and sacredness of the ballot, the purity of the home, temperate and godly living, and the dependence of individuals, communities, states and nations on the guidance of Almighty God, as taught by the Pilgrims.