Society President photograph
Charles Mackenzie
Society President
Welcome to the web site of the Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York. It is designed to inform you about the purpose, history and activities of our venerable organization. We welcome the public's interest in our affairs as we believe it helps us to further our mission.

The Society was founded in 1835 by a group of prominent New York City gentlemen, including Washington Irving, as a membership organization the purpose of which is to preserve knowledge of the history and customs of New York City's Dutch forebears. It is one of the oldest societies in the United States. Membership is by invitation only and limited to those men who can demonstrate descent from a resident of New York State before 1785. By virtue of its membership requirements, many members are descended from the city's first settlers, who included several nationalities and faiths as well as Dutch people and descendants of Native Americans.

The Society celebrates New York and the people who make it dynamic and exciting. It achieves this in several ways:
  1. Recognizing individuals for their work to make New York a better place with the Saint Nicholas Society Medal of Merit, an award first presented in 1937. Among the many notable recipients are Fiorello La Guardia, Alfred P. Sloan, Jeremiah Milbank, Reginald T. Townsend, John V. Lindsay, Thomas P. Hoving, Norman Vincent Peale, Thomas J. Watson, Henry Luce III, Governor Thomas H. Kean, and Phillippe de Montebello.

  2. Honoring artists and scholars who have distinguished themselves through their work with the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence, an award established in 1985. Recipients include: Louis Auchincloss, Simon Schama, David McCullough, Christopher Buckley, Russell Shorto and Charles Gehring (jointly), and Ron Chernow.

  3. Making grants, through the Saint Nicholas Fund, to projects aiming to preserve or restore the Dutch fabric of New York. Most recently the Fund contributed toward the replacement of the roof of St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, which is built on land that was originally part of Peter Stuyvesant's bouwerie, or farm.
Washington Irving reclining The Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York is governed by a Constitution and By-laws which call for three stated meetings each year, and a dinner honoring Saint Nicholas, the Patron Saint of the Netherlands, on the Sixth of December. In addition the Society sponsors a spring festival called the Paas, or Easter Festival each year. All Saint Nicholas events are noted for both their decorum (often black tie with the President in white tie and tails) and camaraderie.

The Society's membership is eclectic with the pleasant result that one can join almost any table at a dinner and have an enjoyable and interesting conversation with the other members seated there. Politics and business are never discussed. Instead the focus is on the Dutch settlers of Old New Amsterdam.

Page bottom