Daughters of the British Empire
in the State of Connecticut

DBE History

Founder Mrs. J. Elliot Langstaff's vision of a group of British-born women in a foreign country united in a common cause culminated in her founding the Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire in the USA in 1909. In 1920, the society was reorganized as the DBE in the USA.

During the early years, much philanthropic work and assistance was given on an individual basis to the elderly 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 DBE.

Chapters formed in rapid succession across the country. Throughout the twentieth century, members maintained an extraordinary standard of volunteer work. During the First World War, one chapter sold over a million dollars in war bonds, and raised money for a British plane inscribed with the name "Imperial Order Daughters of the British Empire in the USA".

The Second World War saw members in all states working unceasingly. Six ambulances and a mobile kitchen were provided. Members worked with many relief organizations, and sent food and clothing parcels directly to families in Britain.

The DBE has over 3,000 members in over 30 states. DBE states are divided into four Districts, each supporting a District Home.

History of the DBE in Connecticut

The DBE in Connecticut was incorporated in 1930 with the forming of the Trafalgar Chapter in Westport. Membership grew steadily as members enjoyed many social functions as well as continued commitment to fund-raising efforts for the Victoria Home at Ossining, New York, as part of the Eastern District’s responsibility. A total of over $10,000.00 was raised for the Victoria Home in 2008. In addition, all the Connecticut chapters contribute to the biannual Garden Party at the Home by running stalls and taking turns with the other States of the Eastern District to provide the Tea. Chapters also frequently visit the home, providing entertainment and refreshments to residents. We have supported one or two special residents by sending Christmas and birthday gifts.

In 1954, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother visited the Home, and took tea with the residents.  Another famous visitor was Gracie Fields. The then State President held a tea for her, and during this time,received her MBE.

Members of the State’s Chapters have met annually for a Founders’ Day luncheon in April, with guest speakers and entertainment, and a Christmas Luncheon in December.

 In 1993, Chapters joined together to present a British Fair in Westport, a successful fundraiser much enjoyed by the local community.

 In 2000, Connecticut hosted the National Convention of the DBE’s at the Marriot Hotel in Stamford, under the direction of then State President. The Mayor of Stamford, Daniel P.Malby, proclaimed May 20, 2000 as” Daughters of the British Empire Day“ and “proudly recognized the outstanding commitment and loyalty of the DBE’s throughout the State of Connecticut”

In 2005 a new connection was made when the Daughters of the American Revolution in Connecticut invited members of the DBE State Board to attend their annual meeting. 

Individual Connecticut Chapter Histories

London Chapter- (1969-)

London was formed as a lunchtime meeting group by former members of Sir Christopher Wren’s evening group.

The Victoria Home has always been the focus of the London Chapter over the years, with regular visits to the home, when members organize a small sherry party for the residents, including a sing-along to the piano played by of one of the members. Christmas and birthday gifts are sent each year to their “Special” resident

 Members have organized many fundraising activities, including champagne lunches in members’ gardens in the early years, tag sales, theater parties, cruises, raffles, Wimbledon brunches, silent auctions, etc. In 2008 the Chapter, under the guidance of a chapter member  produced a cook book,'London’s Cooking' which raised money for the Victoria Home It enjoys a summer and Christmas party, which are also fund raising events among the members residents. In 2008, London was able to send a large donation to the home towards the purchase of a van to transport residents. Smaller donations are made to local charities, such as Interfaith Housing and Women in Crisis Center.

 Princess Marina Chapter (1969-)

This Chapter was formed in 1969 by the State President and two members from Westport’s Trafalgar Chapters who were residents of Greenwich. The name was chosen out of affection for the princess and in gratitude for her work in hospitals. The numbers swelled to 21 by 1970 and at one time there were 50 members. The Chapter’s biggest fundraiser is the annual sale of Christmas puddings. For many years a Christmas bazaar was held, including the sale of Christmas crackers. This was followed by bridge lunches, parties, fashion shows, a big tag sale, and many social events. Many members attended the reception at the Lincoln Center for Queen Elizabeth in1976.

Under the leadership of current Regent,members have continued as a lively Chapter, recently holding a lobster-bake fund raiser, and sends proceeds of fundraisers to the Victoria home, helps with the gardens and has a special friend among the residents. Some money is donated to the town of Greenwich each year for a charity.  

 State Historian, DBE, State of Connecticut.

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