The mission of the National Institute of Social Sciences is to promote the study of the social sciences, to support social science research and discussion, and to honor individuals who have rendered distinguished service to humanity.

The National Institute of Social Sciences is a voluntary association of public-spirited citizens. Our members include social scientists, educators, business professionals, philanthropists, academics, and the intellectually curious who believe the social sciences offer broad and valuable insights into issues of urgent and lasting concern.

We encourage the study of the social sciences via direct and indirect support of social science research and by sponsoring public discussion of pressing social challenges such as the effects of technology, artificial intelligence, climate change, political polarization, income distribution, demographics, and the future of humanity.

The U.S. Congress has charged the National Institute with celebrating the accomplishments of extraordinary individuals who have rendered distinguished service to humanity, in order to hold them up as role models who can inspire the next generation of citizens to contribute in kind.

In pursuit of these objectives, the National Institute:

  • Sponsors speeches, discussions, and events that offer a broad range of balanced, non-partisan debate and discussion to its members and the general public
  • Celebrates the accomplishments of distinguished Americans and world leaders who have contributed at the highest level to the welfare and improvement of society with our Gold Honor Medal
  • Provides financial support to emerging scholars in academia who are doing doctoral research in the social sciences

The National Institute is supported by active, dues-paying members across the United States.

We invite you to join us!

The National Institute of Social Sciences has a rich history of recognizing the highest level of accomplishment, encouraging discussion, and supporting research. 

The National Institute had its origins in the American Social Science Association, or ASSA, which itself grew out of two earlier organizations. In October 1865, Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew chaired a meeting of some 300 public-spirited citizens that established the American Association for the Promotion of Social Science, modeled on the British Social Science Association, “to plan measures of public improvement.” The following year, the American Association for the Promotion of Social Science merged with the Boston Social Science Association to form the ASSA.

During the ASSA’s first decades, general interest in the social sciences evolved into academic professionalization, and ASSA helped foster the creation of the American Historical Association (1884), the American Economic Association (1885), the American Political Science Association (1903), and the American Sociological Association (1905).

In 1898, the ASSA created the National Institute of Arts and Letters, modeled after the Académie Française. In time, National Institute of Arts and Letters transformed into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 1899, the ASSA was “constituted a corporation” by an Act of Congress, and in 1912, the ASSA created the National Institute of Social Sciences as a separate department.

 New York City -- November 28, 1967. The five Rockefeller Brothers receive gold medals from the National Institute of Social Sciences. From left are David Rockefeller, president of the Chase Manhattan Bank; Winthrop Rockefeller, governor of Arkansas; Frank Pace, president of the National Institute; John D. Rockefeller 3rd, chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation; Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York; and Laurence Rockefeller, a conservation adviser to President Johnson.

New York City -- November 28, 1967. The five Rockefeller Brothers receive gold medals from the National Institute of Social Sciences. From left are David Rockefeller, president of the Chase Manhattan Bank; Winthrop Rockefeller, governor of Arkansas; Frank Pace, president of the National Institute; John D. Rockefeller 3rd, chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation; Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York; and Laurence Rockefeller, a conservation adviser to President Johnson.

In 1913, the Institute presented its first Gold Medals for Distinguished Service to Humanity. That year, the honorees were Archer M. Huntington, philanthropist and founder of the Hispanic Society of America; Samuel L. Parrish, lawyer, noted art collector, and museum founder; and William Howard Taft, who was concluding his term as 27th President of the United States.

Subsequently, the Institute emerged as an independent organization. Its early leadership encompassed many prominent ASSA members, including James B. Angell, president of the University of Michigan, Daniel Cott Gilman, the first president of the Johns Hopkins University, and Andrew D. White, the first president of Cornell.

 Certificate presented to Linus Pauling on the occasion of his receiving the Gold Medal in 1979.

Certificate presented to Linus Pauling on the occasion of his receiving the Gold Medal in 1979.

In 1926, by a second Act of Congress, the Institute assumed the ASSA federal charter “for the purpose of promoting studies and researches in the social sciences.” In the following decades, the Institute has remained true to this charge, presenting Gold Medals to distinguished honorees every year (except 1922) and establishing a vibrant branch in Palm Beach, Florida.

Since 2013, the Institute has sponsored an annual Seed Fund Program that provides financial support to graduate students in the social sciences during the final year of their doctoral research. 

Mr. Frederick R. Larsen
President

Mr. Kent L. Barwick
Vice President

Mrs. Joan K. Davidson
Vice President

The Rev. Thomas F. Pike
Vice President  

Prof. Nicholas A. Robinson
Vice President

Mr. William H. Told, Jr.
Vice President

Ms. Gracey Stoddard
Secretary

Mr. R. Dyke Benjamin
Treasurer

Mr. James M. Ballentine, Jr.

Ms. Angela Cason

Mr. Joseph P. Flanagan

 

Mr. Robert F. Gregory

Ms. Judith Hernstadt

Mrs. Geraldine Kunstadter

Mr. Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr.

Mrs. Marie Powers

Mr. Peter Samton

Honorary Trustees

Dr. Kenneth T. Jackson

Mr. Robert M. Morgenthau

Mrs. Arthur Ross

Dr. George E. Rupp

Mr. William vanden Heuvel

Dr. James D. Watson

 

Executive Director

Dr. Timothy P. Cross

 

Mr. William H. Told, Jr.
Honorary Chair

Mr. Joseph P. Flanagan
Chair

Mr. Stewart B. Clifford
Vice Chair

Mrs. Natalie Grace Dejoux
Vice Chair - Luncheon

Mrs. William H. Told, Jr.
Vice Chair - Luncheon

Mrs. Owen R. McGivern
Secretary

Mr. James M. Ballentine, Jr.
Treasurer

 

Executive Secretary

Mrs. May Bell Lin

 

Hamilton W. Mabie (1912–15)

Nicholas Murray Butler (1916)

Irving Fisher (1917)

Emory R. Johnson (1918–21)

Austin B. Fletcher (1922–23)

Helen Hartley Jenkins (1923)

Chester S. Lord (1924–25)

William C. Redfield (1926–31)

C. Stuart Gager (1932–34)

Henry Fletcher (1935–36)

William E. Hall (1937–41)

Colby M. Chester (1942–44)

Clarence G. Michalis (1945–49)

Hugh Bullock (1950–52)

Walter Hoving (1953–56)

Frank Pace, Jr. (1956–59)

Arthur K. Watson (1959–61)

Frank Pace, Jr. (1962–77)

Susan Hall Archdeacon (1977–79)

Geraldine Kunstadter (1979–81)

J. Sinclair Armstrong (1982–92)

Clifford V. Brokaw III (1992–94)

Bruce E. Balding (1994–97)

William H. Brinckerhoff (1997–2001)

Clarence F. Michalis (2001–06)

Chauncey G. Olinger, Jr. (2006–17)

Frederick R. Larsen (2017- )