The Theosophical Society was formed in a series of six meetings that took place from September 7 to November 17, 1875, in New York City. The official day of founding the Theosophical Society is November 17, 1875, and is celebrated by members as Foundation Day.
The first meeting, on September 7, was a lecture, after which the idea of forming a Society was proposed. The organization of the Society began in the next meeting held on September 8. The following names were recorded as being part of the founders of the Society:
At the subsequent preliminary meetings the earlier signatories were joined by others whose names were added to the roster of "founders". Some of the new names mentioned include: Dr. Seth Pancoast, Rev. J. H. Wiggin, R. B. Westbrook, Dr. W. H. Atkinson, Dr. H. Carlos, Tudor Horton, Edwin S. Ralphs, and Francisco Agromonte. Another member who remained engaged with the Society for many years was John W. Lovell.
On October 30, 1875, the officers of the Theosophical Society were elected, as follows:
- President: Col. H. S. Olcott
- Vice-Presidents: G. H. Felt and Dr. S. Pancoast
- Corresponding Secretary: Mme H. P. Blavatsky
- Recording Secretary: John Storer Cobb
- Treasurer: H. J. Newton
- Librarian: Charles Sotheran
- Councillors: Rev. J. H. Wiggin, R. B. Westbrook, Mrs. E. H. Britten, Dr. C. E. Simmons, and H. D. Monachesi.
- Counsel to the Society: William Q. Judge
Col. Olcott himself regarded the people present during the formative meetings of the Theosophical Society more as "formers" than founders. He wrote:
The Society, then, had sixteen formers—to use the most apposite term—not founders; for the stable founding was a result of hard work and self-sacrifice, of years, and during a part of that time H.P.B. and I worked quite alone in the trenches, laying the strong foundation. Our colleagues either went out entirely, or became list-less, or were prevented by force of circumstances from devoting their time and efforts to the work.
When the term "The Founders" is used the early writings such as The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, it usually refers to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott. Even William Quan Judge, himself the driving force in development of the American Section of the Society, was known to refer to his older friends, Blavatsky and Olcott, as "The Founders."
- Curuppumullage Jinarājadāsa, Golden Book of the Theosophical Society (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925), 19-20.
- Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves First Series (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 121-122.
- Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves First Series (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 122.
- William Quan Judge, "A Servant of the Masters: Col. Henry S. Olcott," The Path (April, 1888). Available at Blavatsky.net