The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Indiana was founded on July 7, 1896, by Mary Harrison McKee, daughter of President Benjamin Harrison, and 15 other women. The national organization had been started five years earlier at Philadelphia as a genealogical society with the purpose to preserve memories of the past, preserve and restore buildings connected with our early history, stimulate interest in our colonial history and create a popular patriotism and genuine love of country.
The NSCDA and its 44 state societies and the District of Columbia, have three purposes:
- To document, restore and preserve artifacts and buildings from the past;
- To stimulate an interest in U.S. colonial history; and
- To create a popular patriotism and genuine love of country.
The Indiana Society proudly supports three distinctive museum properties in Indiana:
- The David Lenz House, in historic New Harmony in southwest Indiana, which is owned, furnished and maintained by the Indiana Society;
- The state-owned J.F. D. Lanier Mansion in Madison, to which the Society and individual members contribute the historical furnishings and restoration projects; and
- The Indianapolis Museum of Art, for which the Indiana Society purchases furniture, costumes, and decorative arts for the American collection.
The Society also contributes funds to three historic buildings outside of Indiana: Dumbarton House, the NSCDA’s national headquarters, in Washington, DC; Gunston Hall, the Virginia home of George Mason who wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which became the foundation of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights; and the ancestral home of President George Washington, Sulgrave Manor, at Northhamptonshire, England. All of the above buildings are open to the public.
Other Indiana Society projects provide comfort items to hospitalized veterans, purchase books for the State History Library, teach children how to research their family history at the Indiana Historical Center, and welcome new U.S. citizens at naturalization ceremonies at the Federal Court House in Indianapolis.
Each year the Society provides a scholarship to a college student studying American history, contributes to other American history regional and national scholarships, and to a national scholarship for an American Indian to attend nursing school.