American Section

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American Section refers to the organization of American Theosophists created on October 30, 1886, at a convention held in Cincinnati, where William Quan Judge was elected as General Secretary and Treasurer. Dr. J. D. Buck and the newly formed Cincinnati Theosophical Society hosted the convention. It was the first national section of the Theosophical Society.

There were nine Theosophical lodges in various cities throughout the United States: seven in the East and mid-Western states, and two on the West coast.

Mr. Judge established The Path as the official organ of the section, based on subscriptions to support its publication. The Cincinnati Theosophical Society mentioned this in its minutes for January 22, 1888:

A notice was then read from The Path, in regard to the need of more subscribers in order to carry on the work.

Dr. Buck referred to the fact that Mr. Judge had occasionally been obliged to supply necessary funds from his own private means, and that year, a deficit of several hundred dollars was made up by Mr. Aldrich.[1]

Mr. Aldrich was the husband of Josephine Cables Aldrich, who founded the Rochester (New York) Theosophical Society and the Gita Theosophical Society, in Aldrich, Alabama. He was a wealthy man, unlike Mr. Judge.

The First National Convention of the American Section was held in Chicago on April 22, 1888. General Council members were Edward W . Parker, Gen. Abner Doubleday, Mrs. M. M. Phelon, Mrs. E. C. Cushman, F. Collins, E. D. Hammond, Judge O ’Rourke, James Taylor, Louise A. Off, Mrs. H. E. Morey, Mrs. A. N. Savery, Mrs. M. Bangle, S. C. Gould, Alexander Fullerton, W . H. Cornell, Dr. Borglum [father of Gutzon Borglum], W . W . Allen, J. M. Wheeler, Mrs. M. L. Brainard, George M. Sweet, Mrs. K. Westendorf, A. 0. Robinson, Col. Henry N. Hooper, George Frederic Parsons, George M. Stearns, R. Wes. McBride, and Dr. J. D. Buck. Dr. Elliott Coues was Chairman of the convention, with Dr. J. D. Buck as a substitute for some sessions.[2][3]

The number of branches continued to grow steadily until in the 1895 Convention of the American Section, eighty-three of the lodges present voted for autonomy from the international Theosophical Society (Adyar), with only five lodges retaining their affiliation with the international Society in Adyar. The seceding lodges reorganized into an organization called Theosophical Society in America, while the other five lodges formed a new American Section known as the American Theosophical Society.

Modern use of term

The same term, American Section, is now used to designate the National Section of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) in the United States, known today as Theosophical Society in America (and previously, as the American Theosophical Society).

Additional resources


  1. Minutes of the Cincinnati Theosophical Society, Volume 1, pages 103-104. Cincinnati Theosophical Society Records. Records Series 20.02.01. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
  2. T. C. Crawford, "American Theosophical Convention" The Theosophist (July, 1888), 615-622.
  3. "Proceedings of the First National Theosophical Convention, Held in Chicago, April, 22d, 1888" The Hermeticist 1.8 (May, 1888).