The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Membership Statistics

Membership statistics for the period 1879 - 1983

Republished with Gregory J. Tillett's permission from his Ph. D. Thesis:
“Charles Webster Leadbeater, 1854-1934: A Biographical Study”
Visit online edition on http://leadbeater.org/ prepared by Daniel Caldwell.
Summarized from The Final Years and Appendix 4 - Statistical Summary.

* * *

For years prior to 1907 there are no official membership figures available. However, there are figures for the total number of charters issued for lodges of the Society up to each year after 1878.

Year

Charters

Year

Charters

Year

Charters

 
 
 
 
 
 

1879

2

1889

199

1899

558

1880

10

1890

234

1900

595

1881

25

1891

271

1901

647

1882

52

1892

298

1902

704

1883

95

1893

344

1903

751

1884

107

1894

382

1904

800

1885

124

1895

401

[1]

1905

864

1886

136

1896

425

1906

913

1887

156

1897

487

1888

169

1898

526

[1] - 1895 was the year of the “Judge schism” in the United States of America in which 101 lodges out of the 115 lodges in America left the Society based at Adyar. It is important to note that not all the lodges for which charters were issued would continue to exist.

Year

Lodges

Members

Australia

England

USA

India

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

1900

10,000

[1]

1905

479

*

317

*

2,637

*

1906

509

*

599

*

2,571

4,239

1907

567

14,863

[2]

641

1,860

2,821

4,548

1908

631

15,617

747

1,910

2,479

4,631

1909

698

16,898

849

1,463

2,763

4,958

1910

778

20,464

954

1,666

3,009

5,252

1911

867

21,464

1,004

1,694

3,092

5,646

1912

950

23,140

1,135

2,027

3,368

5,170

1913

952

22,744

1,203

2,280

4,145

5,890

1914

1,016

24,575

1,391

2,450

4,715

5,747

1915

991

25,696

1,474

2,636

5,332

5,936

1916

989

26,820

[3]

1,474

2,833

5,562

6,648

1917

1,074

28,673

1,556

3,056

6,407

7,144

1918

896

22,879

1,701

3,501

6,850

8,419

1919

1,194

33,427

1,868

3,946

7,048

9,365

1920

1,244

36,350

1,902

4,649

6,964

7,051

1921

1,349

40,475

2,168

5,105

7,196

6,594

1922

1,360

39,773

2,309

4,658

6,701

5,016

1923

1,369

40,996

1,823

4,654

7,018

5,833

1924

1,540

41,892

1,580

4,821

6,916

5,358

1925

1,571

41,645

[4]

1,564

4,938

7,333

4,980

1926

1,645

43,301

[5]

1,688

4,974

7,511

6,751

1927

1,679

44,217

1,562

5,150

8,520

6,216

1928

1,586

45,098

1,628

5,170

7,859

6,905

1929

1,592

41,015

1,559

5,050

6,917

6,764

1930

1,490

39,311

1,559

4,588

5,997

5,518

1931

1,426

36,115

1,499

4,224

5,657

4,728

1932

1,345

33,267

1,477

3,858

5,236

4,290

1933

1,279

30,836

1,433

3,653

4,544

4,078

1934

1,239

29,745

1,265

3,492

4,263

3,988

1935

1,226

30,317

1,277

3,520

4,420

3,995

1936

1,203

29,842

1,181

3,445

4,317

4,124

1937

1,160

29,182

1,051

3,348

4,047

4,035

1938

1,141

28,862

1,098

3,327

3,936

4,083

1939

1,105

28,105

1,061

3,295

3,646

3,903

1940

945

23,644

1,015

3,234

3,385

4,255

1941

871

28,176

995

3,144

3,144

4,307

1942

840

28,862

981

3,126

3,169

4,400

1943

660

18,216

1,065

3,238

3,281

4,601

1944

*

*

1,019

3,319

3,440

5,089

1945

*

29,327

1,019

3,496

3,594

6,208

1946

1,215

31,236

1,018

3,694

3,846

6,962

1947

1,245

31,636

982

3,783

3,825

7,208

1948

1,303

32,746

1,016

3,694

4,031

7,364

1949

1,307

33,083

1,026

3,440

4,103

7,364

1950

1,287

32,546

1,050

3,403

4,055

7,133

1951

1,264

32,180

1,102

3,313

4,008

6,838

1952

1,306

32,223

1,164

3,290

3,953

6,632

1953

1,349

32,450

1,210

3,200

4,075

6,505

1954

1,364

32,566

1,197

3,231

4,078

6,376

1955

1,372

32,902

1,217

3,284

4,070

6,428

1956

1,366

33,904

1,225

3,069

4,194

6,802

1957

1,374

33,628

1,216

2,918

4,241

7,051

1958

1,360

33,750

1,238

2,789

4,328

7,090

1959

1,371

33,768

1,240

2,736

4,234

7,162

1960

1,304

33,875

1,273

2,668

4,167

7,065

1961

1,283

33,730

1,229

2,557

4,140

6,405

1962

1,287

33,058

1,110

2,486

4,062

7,389

1963

1,250

30,973

1,102

2,580

4,053

7,456

1964

1,256

31,174

1,095

2,686

3,916

7,663

1965

1,243

31,424

1,163

2,789

3,844

7,688

1966

1,223

31,357

1,223

2,810

3,841

7,661

1967

1,233

31,365

1,294

2,716

3,986

7,710

1968

1,241

31,262

1,297

2,654

4,354

7,567

1969

1,222

30,530

1,485

2,561

4,678

7,294

1970

1,202

31,721

1,655

2,479

5,436

7,469

1971

1,218

32,176

1,793

2,369

5,477

7,710

1972

1,232

33,345

1,841

2,281

6,119

7,869

1973

1,208

32,169

1,927

2,250

5,341

7,721

1974

1,214

32,998

1,779

2,233

5,881

8,168

1975

1,153

34,705

1,273

2,145

5,529

9,584

1976

1,189

34,693

1,331

2,182

5,657

9,337

1977

1,153

34,705

1,273

2,145

5,529

9,584

1978

1,165

34,479

1,300

2,077

4,672

9,657

1979

1,108

33,388

1,231

2,140

5,004

9,761

1980

1,151

34,391

1,213

2,165

5,129

9,811

1981

1,111

34,421

1,188

2,168

5,285

10,063

1982

1,157

34,567

1,159

2,186

5,367

10,177

1983

1,109

34,757

1,186

2,071

5,336

10,310

[1] Estimate by Josephine Ransom.
[2] No accurate statistics were compiled between 1875 and 1906. But to February 17, 1907, 32,132 people had joined the TS (although not all were then still members) and 913 lodges had been chartered, although not all were then active.)
[3] United State Bureau of Census figure for the 1916 census was 5097.
[4] Between 1908 and 1925, 81,436 people joined the TS, but this produced a net gain of only 25,562.
[5] United States Bureau of Census figure, for the 1926 Census was 7448.

Derived from Annual Reports of the Theosophical Society, International Theosophical Year Books, and figures given in reports of sections published in The Theosophist. There is often some variation in statistics between sources.

The Society’s membership and number of lodges had risen steadily during Mrs. Besant’s presidency, reaching their peak in 1928, from whence they moved into a steady and continuing decline. Between 1908 and 1925 - 81,436 new members joined the TS, but the net gain was only 25,562.

In the ten years between 1929 and 1938 the TS as a whole dropped in membership by 33.8 %. The American Section fell by 43.1 %, the British by 33.9 %, the Australian by 29.1 % and the Indian by 39.6 %. But between 1927 and 1931, 66.5 % of membership had been lost.

Year

Number of Lodges

Number of Members

 
 
 

1907

567

12,863

1910

778

20,356

1915

991

25,696

1920

1,244

36,250

1925

1,571

41,645

1928

1,586

45,098

1930

1,490

39,311

1933

1,279

30,836

1935

1,226

30,317

1937

1,160

29,182

1939

1,105

28,105

That membership figures for the period of apparent rapid growth leading up to Krishna’s dissolution of the Order of the Star are somewhat misleading: they imply an ever-increasing membership, but they fail to show the substantial departure of old members.

Last update: January 2009
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