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History of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants: 1930-1939

With one exception the Society meetings during the Thirties were quiet affairs held at the Society house or in a nearby auditorium. Only the Compact Day dinner on November 22, 1935 approached the glory of the past. Held in the same ballroom at the Somerset as the 1927 dinner, it again brought together a notable head table of military men and politicians. Included were Rear Admiral Reginald R. Belknap, former Governors Fuller, Allen and Cox, Charles Francis Adams, the German and Netherlands Counsuls, the President of Boston University, and so forth. Attendance was nearly five hundred and a message from President Roosevelt was read. This time, however, the spirit was not as glittering or gay. In many ways it seemed a forced attempt to regain the 1927 high. Speeches reflected the changing times and were heavy on bolstering military policies. The Society house provided an excellent place for frequent lectures and teas, often attended by one hundred or more. Anniversaries of Pilgrim events were also celebrated, and every Christmas Eve the house was illuminated in the custom of Beacon Hill and members and guests were welcomed in the evening.

After three decades of steady increases in membership, the Great Depression hit the Society hard. Between December 31, 1930 and December 31, 1942, there was a loss of 612 members, or 36 percent of the total membership. Most of this loss occurred by the end of 1934. Financial restrictions led first to the delay and then the abandonment of The Mayflower Descendant and no new projects were undertaken.