Welcome to the Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York website. It will inform you about our purpose, our history, and the many activities of our august organization.

Stewards of New York's Dutch Heritage

The Society was founded in 1835 by a group of prominent New York City gentlemen, including Washington Irving, making it one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the United States. Our purpose was, and remains, to preserve and promote the history and customs of New York’s colonial-era forebears, particularly the Dutch and other people who were residents of Manhattan Island and, more broadly, New Amsterdam. Membership is by invitation only and is limited to men who can demonstrate descent from a New York State resident before 1785. By virtue of its membership requirements, many members are descended from the city’s first settlers, who included multiple nationalities and faiths.

Awards & Grants

The Society celebrates New York and the people who make it dynamic and exciting. It achieves this in several ways:

The Saint Nicholas Medal of Merit

recognizes individuals for their contributions to the vibrant culture and welfare of the people of New York. The Medal of Merit was first presented in 1937 to the Hon. Robert Moses. Among the many notable recipients have been: the Hon. Fiorello La Guardia, Alfred P. Sloan, Reginald T. Townsend, the Hon. John V. Lindsay, Joseph Papp, Vincent Sardi, the Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the Hon. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Brooke Astor, Walter Cronkite, Henry Luce III, Governor Thomas H. Kean, E.L. Doctorow, and Phillippe de Montebello.

The Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence

was established in 1985, and honors artists and scholars who have distinguished themselves through their work. Recipients include: Louis Auchincloss, Tom Wolfe, Simon Schama, David McCullough, A.R. Gurney, Christopher Buckley, Russell Shorto and Charles Gehring (jointly), Ron Chernow, Sally Bedell Smith, John Guare, Secretary Colin Powell, and Julian Fellows.

Governance & Membership

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 an Annual Dinner honoring Saint Nicholas, the Patron Saint of the Netherlands, on or about the sixth of December. Our Dinners are often addressed by notable speakers, who have included many significant figures, including the Hon. Daniel Webster, Mark Twain, and President Theodore Roosevelt (a member). In addition, the Society sponsors an annual spring festival called the Paas, or Easter Festival. Saint Nicholas events are noted for their decorum (often black or white tie) and camaraderie.

The Society’s membership is warm and 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. Politics are never discussed.

Find out more about The Society's MIssion