What is now known as the International Churchill Society came to life in the spring of 1968 when the first issue of Finest Hour was delivered to the charter members—all twelve of them. This month, Finest Hour 180 reaches thousands of members on six continents. Included are tributes from British Prime Minister Theresa May and ICS President Randolph Churchill.
Known initially as the Winston S. Churchill Study Unit (WSCSU), the group was organized under the auspices of the American Topical Association, the presiding US authority on thematic stamps. Founder and Finest Hour editor emeritus Richard M. Langworth saw a need for collectors of Churchill stamps to be alerted to “black blots,” phony stamps issued by dubious authorities.
Two years later in 1970, the WSCSU was reorganized as the International Churchill Society thus transforming the group into a general purpose agency for the study and appreciation of Winston Churchill’s life and legacy. It was tough going in the 1970s, and there was a period when the group was in abeyance for six years. Starting in 1981, however, ICS has operated continuously, and Finest Hour has been published as a quarterly ever since.
“I am very proud of all the International Churchill Society has accomplished in its first fifty years,” said Chairman Laurence Geller CBE, “and very excited for what we will be accomplishing in our next fifty years now that we have realized our long held dream of opening the National Churchill Library and Center (NCLC) in Washington, D.C. on the campus of the George Washington University.”
“In just our first year of operation, we have become the go-to facility in North America for questions related to Churchill’s life,” said NCLC Director Michael F. Bishop. “Along with our partners at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, we have become one of the principal platforms for Churchill studies joining a network that includes the Churchill Archives Centre in Cambridge, the Churchill War Rooms in London, and Chartwell, the National Trust property in Kent that was Churchill’s beloved home.”
ICS now includes chapters in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, and Portugal. Finest Hour has published the work of leading scholars of the past fifty years, and ICS meetings have hosted members of the Churchill family and inner circle as well as leading world figures such as HRH The Prince of Wales, Margaret Thatcher, Madeleine Albright, Sir Martin Gilbert, and many more.
Today the papers of Winston Churchill are freely available to students around the world thanks to a generous donation from ICS Chairman Laurence Geller. We are well positioned to move forward in our mission to stress the importance and continuing relevance of Churchill’s life and example.