The first Society for Ethical Culture was formed in New York City in May,
1876, by Prof. Felix Adler and several associates. The purpose of the
movement was to provide a centre for persons who had lost their attachment
to the traditional creeds and desired to aid in seeking what is good and in
promoting the moral development of the individual and of society. A second
society was formed in Chicago in 1882 ; a third in Philadelphia in 1885; and
a fourth in Saint Louis in 1886. A few years afterwards the first society in
London was organized by Dr. Stanton Coit. Other societies have since been
formed in England, and in Germany  (where there are 16). Austria,
Switzerland, and Italy. The most important of these societies are those in
the United States, England, and Germany, and at Zurich, Switzerland. An
Ethical Congress and a convention of all the Ethical Societies in America
were held in connection with the tenth anniversary of the fourth society, in
Saint Louis, in 1896. A congress of American and European societies was held
at Zurich, Switzerland, in the same year, when the office of International
Secretary was instituted. The societies in America seek less to gain
adherents than to establish their principles and perfect their organization.
Not affirming any creeds and not hostile to any, the Society for Ethical
Culture teaches that moral ends are supreme above all human ends and
interests, and that the authority of the moral law is immediate and not
dependent upon religious beliefs or philosophical theories. Meetings are
held on Sundays and are devoted to addresses, with exclusion of audible
prayer and all forms of ritual. Special importance is attached to the
ethical training of children, and important schools have been established in
New York and other cities. The New York Ethical Culture School was the first
to introduce manual training as a regular branch of the curriculum in
elementary schools. Young men's societies, women's conferences, Sunday
ethical classes, and the like  come within the sphere of activity of the
societies.The New York society had 900 members in 1901.
Bibliography: The Ethical Record (bi-monthly) and a 'lecture supplement,'
Ethical Addresses (monthly), are issued by the Society for Ethical Culture
of New York. The International Journal of Ethics (quarterly, Philadelphia),
while not the official organ of the societies, owes its origin and main
support to them. Ethics (weekly, London) is the organ of the English
societies, and Ethische Kulter (weekly, Berlin) represents the German
movement. Consult: the writings of Felix Adler, such as The Moral Education
of Children (New York, 1898); Creed and Deed (ib., 1877) ; Life and Destiny
(ib., 1903) ; W.M. Salter, Ethical Religion (Boston, 1889) ; W.L. Sheldon,
An Ethical Sunday School (New York, 1900) ; id., An Ethical Movement (ib.,
1896) ; Stanton Coit, Neighborhood Guilds (London, 1892).

Source:  The New International Encyclopaedia
Copyright:  1902, 1903, 1904, 1905
Publisher:  Dodd, Mead and company--New York
Volumes:  Total of 21 volumes
Transcribed by Miriam Medina