History of the DBE
Sarah Josephine Meredith Langstaff
This American based society was founded by a remarkable woman, Mrs. Sarah Josephine Meredith Langstaff.
During the early years, much philanthropic work was done in local communities and assistance given on an individual basis to elderly British women who were in need. Mrs. Langstaff suggested that a home for the aged would serve as a "cohesive philanthropy in which each and all chapters could have a common interest," and so was born the concept of "Homes for the Aged," eventually to become the main objective of the D.B.E.
In order to achieve legal status as an American organization application was made to the State of New York for a corporate charter; this was granted on December 8, 1910.
After outbreak of WWI, chapters were formed in rapid succession with 76 being organized. D.B.E members were responsible for the largest War Relief Fund raised by any British organization in the U.S.
The first National President of the D.B.E. was Mrs. George Cooke Adams. On April 14, the signing of the Nation Covenant took place, named "Founders Day" and observed each year by all chapters.