Since its founding in 1890, the objects of The Colonial Dames of America, as outlined by the by-laws, include:
1) To maintain its headquarters as a museum, and to maintain other restorations, for educational purposes;
2) To provide educational opportunities and scholarships;
3) To collect for preservation manuscripts, traditions, relics, and mementoes of American history;
4) To commemorate the great historical events of the thirteen original Colonies;
5) To diffuse scholarly information and create popular interest in American history.
To fulfill this mission, the Society and the Chapters have carried out preservation projects, maintained and supported museums and notable sites, and contributed to historic initiatives for more than 130 years.
Initiated by Past President General Helen Evans, the CDA Award for Excellence is given to one or more chapters on an annual basis. The Board of Managers of The Colonial Dames of America is proud of the many projects supported by the efforts of the chapters throughout the country and abroad. Each interested chapter is asked to submit a full description of its project and a budget outlining the proposed use of the $1,000 award. The proposal may be for specific aspects of ongoing projects or for the implementation of a new project.
The Colonial Dames of America recognizes non-fiction books of merit that focus on American life—past, present, or future—by presenting an annual award. The book may be focused on history, biography, economics, politics, ecology, education, or the arts. An award is also given to an author writing fiction or non-fiction for young readers with an American theme.
The Van Rensselaer Award for Distinguished Service (VRA) is named in honor of one of CDA’s principal founders, Maria Denning “May” King Van Rensselaer (Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer). The VRA is bestowed upon members of The Colonial Dames of America for distinguished service to their chapter, to the Society, and to their community.
Established in 2014, the 1890 Society recognizes any aggregate contribution of at least $1890 to The Colonial Dames of America and/or the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden within any given fiscal year. Donors’ names will be announced each year at the Annual Meeting and posted on The Colonial Dames’ website for the coming twelve months.
The Honor Roll recognizes those Colonial Dames chapters contributing a total of $500 or more to the Society or The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden within a single year. Chapters are invited to send information about contributions made in previous years.