The New “Department of Branch Work”
The Path, June & August, 1890
The following circular addressed to Branches will explain itself. It is proper, however, to state that the original plan, dictated by the need for economy, contemplated a division of the country into three Sections, the production upon a typewriter, by the multiple process, of three copies of a selected paper, and the transmission of a copy from Branch to Branch through each Section. But this was open to grave objections. There would always be danger of loss in the transmission, in which case all succeeding Branches would have no paper; complaints of dilatoriness in preceding Branches would be incessant; Branches would necessarily have to read the paper at their next meeting or forward it unread; and the last Branch in one Section would not receive the paper until 4 months after is issue. Besides, the General Secretary could not supply new Branches with back papers, ad the Branches could not retain papers for future study or reference. Upon conference with several active Theosophists in New York, he was proffered aid toward printing the papers, and so the consent of the Executive Committee was obtained to the use of the General Fund. By the present arrangement a Branch retains its papers and can bind them in a volume from time to time, as well as circulate them among members absent from the meetings where they were read, and the General Secretary will be able to supply new Branches with complete sets from the beginning.
Every Branch is invited to forward for examination any paper which has been read before it and found pleasing. But it is well to state in advance that it is useless to forward papers which are common-place or incorrectly spelled. There are some hints on this subject in PATH for Sept. “89, page 192.
Into what this new Department may ultimately develop, cannot be now foreseen. But at present no papers can be furnished to individuals, nor at any time can unaccepted papers be returned unless postage shall have been enclosed.
To the President of the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .T.S.
Dear Sir and Brother:
I had not expected so soon to encounter the need to avail myself of the authority granted by the Convention to appeal to the Branches for a renewal of their subscriptions towards the expenses of the General Secretary’s office, but a proffer of mechanical help towards one of several important schemes I have had much at heart has determined me to ask your aid thus early in the year. If the Branches respond at all liberally, I may be able to effectuate the others. The one now pressing upon me is expounded below, and will be known as the
DEPARTMENT OF BRANCH WORK.
The General Secretary has long been conscious of that deplorable waste by which valuable and interesting papers, once read at a Branch meeting, are unused again, and has desired some arrangement making possible their circulation among other Branches, particularly among those weak in membership or in capacity for originating discussion. It is needless to enumerate the various difficulties, but a leading one has been the expense. He believes that the result of an organized and regular system of circulation will be threefold; 1st, to greatly extend the range of the best and newest Theosophical thought; 2d, to supply weak Branches with interesting matter for instruction and debate; 3d, to promote that attractiveness in Branch meetings which will make them sought by intelligent outsiders, thus giving the Branches a status in their communities, and tending to increase both their growth and influence.
Having secured the consent of the Executive Committee to the plan, he now purposes to print from time to time on the Aryan Path a selected paper, and mail a copy to each Branch. The number of papers issued will depend upon the amount of attention he and his aids can spare from the constantly-increasing work of the office, and also upon the funds placed at his disposal by the Branches and individuals. While no certain periodicity can be pledged, it is thought that a bi-weekly issue will prove practicable.
If the plan commends itself to your Branch, I invite you to apprise me what contribution, if any, it can make towards the expenses of the General Secretary’s office during the present fiscal year. It must be distinctly understood that any Branch desiring the papers will be supplied with them, whether contributing financially or not, it being not doubted that the stronger Branches will feel it their privilege to assist the more liberally because there are weak Branches really unable to give at all. As the summer season is that wherein most time can be found for effectuating much of the work involved, I shall be glad of as early a reply as you can make.
Very truly and fraternally yours,
William Q. Judge, Gen’l Sec’y
Although the General Secretary has twice announced (once in italics) that Branch papers cannot be furnished to individuals, applications continue to come in-and to be refused. The matter was carefully considered at the outset, and the decision reached for the following reasons:-
1. The project was intended specifically for Branch aid, and any other use would vitiate this.
2. Branches were invited to bear expense upon that understanding, and it would not be fair to receive from a Branch a sum varying from $3 to $90 for one copy of each Paper, and then retail Papers to individuals at 5 or 10 cts. each.
3. If individual members of a Branch-and they could not be excluded form a general sale-could buy Papers, there would be just that less stimulus to induce their presence at meetings.
4. The General Secretary purposes furnishing to each new Branch a full set of Papers already issued. If individual orders were allowed, either the drain upon some one Paper or Papers would destroy the sets, or he would need to print of each Paper a large stock. Economy of funds and of office space forbids.
Now these considerations were and are conclusive. There need not be any arguments upon them and there cannot be any reversal. ONLY THE BRANCHES ARE TO HAVE BRANCH PAPERS. And this being so, the General Secretary invites Branch Members to attend their meetings more regularly so as to hear these Papers, and invites Members-at-large to a degree of missionary work in their localities which will create new Branches and thereby ensure Papers. Meantime let them regard him as resolute, even inexorable, and let them write him no letters of either expostulation or blandishment.