Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
|Predecessor(s)||Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society|
|Founded||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (December 15, 1884 )|
|Founder(s)||Charles Taze Russell|
|Headquarters||Brooklyn, New York,
|Part of a series on|
|Watch Tower presidents|
|Notable former members|
The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania is a non-stock, not-for-profit organization headquartered in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, United States. It is the main legal entity used worldwide by Jehovah's Witnesses to direct, administer and develop doctrines for the religion and is often referred to by members of the religion simply as "the Society". It is the parent organization of a number of Watch Tower subsidiaries, including the Watchtower Society of New York and International Bible Students Association. Membership of the society is limited to between 300 and 500 "mature, active and faithful" male Jehovah's Witnesses. About 5800 Jehovah's Witnesses provide voluntary unpaid labour, as members of a religious order, in three large Watch Tower Society facilities in New York; nearly 15,000 other members of the order work at the Watch Tower Society's other facilities worldwide.
The organization was formed in 1881, as Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society, for the purpose of distributing religious tracts. The society was incorporated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 15, 1884. In 1896, the society was renamed Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Following a leadership dispute in the Bible Student movement, the Watch Tower Society remained associated with the branch of the movement that became known as Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1955, the corporation was renamed Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. In 1976, all activities of the Watch Tower Society were brought under the supervision of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
On February 16, 1881 Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, for the purpose of organizing the printing and distribution of religious tracts. William Henry Conley, a Pittsburgh industrialist and philanthropist, served as president, with Charles Taze Russell serving as secretary-treasurer. The society's primary journal was Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christs Presence, first published in 1879 by Russell, founder of the Bible Student movement. Other early writers for the Watch Tower Society included J. H Paton and W. I. Mann. Formation of the society was announced in the April 1881 issue of Zion's Watch Tower. That year, the society received donations of $35,391.18.
On December 15, 1884, the society was incorporated as Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society in Pennsylvania as a non-profit, non-stock corporation with Russell as president. The corporation was located in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. In its charter, written by Russell, the society's purpose was stated as "the mental, moral and religious improvement of men and women, by teaching the Bible by means of the publication and distribution of Bibles, books, papers, pamphlets and other Bible literature, and by providing oral lectures free for the people". The charter provided for a board of seven directors, three of who served as officers—a president, vice-president (initially William I. Mann) and secretary-treasurer (initially Maria Russell). The charter stipulated that the officers be chosen from the directors and be elected annually by ballot. Board members would hold office for life unless removed by a two-thirds vote by shareholders. Vacancies on the board resulting from death, resignation or removal would be filled by a majority vote of the remaining board members within 20 days; if such vacancies were not filled within 30 days an appointment could be made by the president, with the appointments lasting only until the next annual corporation meeting, when vacancies would be filled by election.
Anyone subscribing to $10 or more of the society's Old Testament Tracts or donating $10 or more to the society was deemed a voting member and entitled to one vote per $10 donated. Russell indicated that despite having a board and shareholders, the society would be directed by only two people—him and his wife Maria. Russell said that as at December 1893 he and his wife owned 3705, or 58 percent, of the 6383 voting shares, "and thus control the Society; and this was fully understood by the directors from the first. Their usefulness, it was understood, would come to the front in the event of our death ... For this reason, also, formal elections were not held; because it would be a mere farce, a deception, to call together voting shareholders from all over the world, at great expense, to find upon arrival that their coming was useless, Sister Russell and myself having more than a majority over all that could gather. However, no one was hindered from attending such elections." The influx of donations gradually diluted the proportion of the Russells' shares and in 1908 their voting shares constituted less than half the total. Russell emphasized the limitations of the corporation, explaining: "Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society is not a 'religious society' in the ordinary meaning of this term" He also stated, "This is a business association merely ... It has no creed or confession. It is merely a business convenience in disseminating the truth." Incorporation of the society meant that it would outlive Russell, so individuals who wished to bequeath their money or property to him would not have to alter their will if he died before they did. On September 19, 1896 the name of the corporation was changed to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
From 1908 Russell required the directors to write out resignations when they were appointed so Russell could dismiss them by simply filling in the date. In 1909 Russell instructed legal counsel Joseph Franklin Rutherford to determine whether the society's headquarters could be moved to Brooklyn, New York. Rutherford reported that because it had been established under Pennsylvania law, the corporation could not be registered in New York state, but suggested that a new corporation be registered there to do the society's work. Rutherford subsequently organized the formation of the People's Pulpit Association, which was incorporated on February 23, 1909, and wrote the charter, which gave the president—who would be elected for life at the first meeting—"absolute power and control" of its activities in New York. The society sold its buildings in Pittsburgh and moved staff to its new base in Brooklyn. Although all New York property was bought in the name of the New York corporation and all legal affairs of the society done in its name, Russell insisted on the continued use of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society name on all correspondence and publications.
The move from Pennsylvania to New York occurred during court proceedings over the breakdown of Russells' marriage. His wife Maria had been granted a "limited divorce" on March 4, 1908, but in 1909 returned to court in Pittsburgh to request an increase in alimony, which her former husband refused. Authors Barbara Grizzuti Harrison and Edmond C. Gruss have claimed Russell's move to Brooklyn was motivated by his desire to transfer from the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania courts. They claim he transferred all his assets to the Watch Tower Society so he could declare himself bankrupt and avoid being jailed for failure to pay alimony.
In 1914 the International Bible Students Association was incorporated in Britain to administer affairs in that country. Like the People's Pulpit Association, it was subsidiary to the Pennsylvania parent organization and all work done through both subsidiaries was described as the work of the Watch Tower Society. The Watchtower noted: "The editor of The Watchtower is the President of all three of these Societies. All financial responsibility connected with the work proceeds from (the Pennsylvania corporation). From it the other Societies and all the branches of the work receive their financial support ... we use sometimes the one name and sometimes the other in various parts of our work – yet they all in the end mean the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, to which all donations should be made."
Leadership dispute 
Russell died on October 31, 1916, in Pampa, Texas during a cross-country preaching trip. On January 6, 1917, board member and society legal counsel Joseph Franklin Rutherford, aged 47, was elected president of the Watch Tower Society, unopposed, at the Pittsburgh convention. Under his presidency, the role of the society underwent a major change. By-laws passed by both the Pittsburgh convention and the board of directors stated that the president would be the executive officer and general manager of the society, giving him full charge of its affairs worldwide.
By June, four of the seven Watch Tower Society directors—Robert H. Hirsh, Alfred I. Ritchie, Isaac F. Hoskins and James D. Wright—had decided they had erred in endorsing Rutherford's expanded powers of management, claiming Rutherford had become autocratic. In June Hirsch attempted to rescind the new by-laws and reclaim the powers of management from the president, but Rutherford later claimed he had by then detected a conspiracy among the directors to seize control of the society. In July Rutherford gained a legal opinion from a Philadelphia corporation lawyer that none of his opposers were legally directors of the society. On July 12, Rutherford filled what he claimed were four vacancies on the board, appointing A. H. Macmillan and Pennsylvania Bible Students W. E. Spill, J. A. Bohnet and George H. Fisher as directors. Between August and November the society and the four ousted directors published a series of pamphlets, with each side accusing the other of ambitious and reckless behavior. The former directors also claimed Rutherford had required all headquarters workers to sign a petition supporting him and threatened dismissal for any who refused to sign. The former directors left the Brooklyn headquarters on August 8. On January 5, 1918, Rutherford was returned to office.
In May 1918, Rutherford and seven other Watch Tower directors and officers were arrested on charges of sedition under the Espionage Act. On June 21 they were sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. Rutherford feared his opponents would gain control of the Society in his absence, but on January 2, 1919 he learned he had been re-elected president at the Pittsburgh convention the day before. However, by mid-1919 about one in seven Bible Students had chosen to leave rather than accept Rutherford's leadership, forming groups such as The Standfast Movement, Paul Johnson Movement, Dawn Bible Students Association, Pastoral Bible Institute of Brooklyn, Elijah Voice Movement and Eagle Society.
Although formed as a "business convenience" with the purpose of publishing and distributing Bible-based literature and managing the funds necessary for that task, the corporation from the 1920s began its transformation into the "religious society" Russell had insisted it was not, introducing centralized control and regulation of Bible Student congregations worldwide. In 1938 Rutherford introduced the term "theocracy" to describe the hierarchical leadership of Jehovah's Witnesses, with Consolation explaining: "The Theocracy is at present administered by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, of which Judge Rutherford is the president and general manager." The society appointed "zone servants" to supervise congregations and in a Watchtower article Rutherford declared the need for congregations to "get in line" with the changed structure.
Amendments to Charter 
Following Rutherford's death in 1942, Nathan H. Knorr became president of the Watch Tower Society, and subsequently introduced further changes to the role of the society. At a series of talks given in Pittsburgh on September 30, 1944, coinciding with the society's annual meeting, it was announced that changes would be made to the 1884 charter to bring it into "closer harmony with theocratic principles". The amendments, most of which were passed unanimously, significantly altered the terms of membership and stated for the first time that the society's purposes included preaching about God's kingdom, acting as a servant and governing agency of Jehovah's Witnesses, and sending missionaries and teachers for the public worship of God and Jesus Christ. The new charter, which took effect from January 1, 1945 included the following changes:
- An altered and expanded explanation of article II, detailing the purpose of the society. This included the preaching of the gospel of God's kingdom to all nations; to print and distribute Bibles and disseminate Bible truths with literature explaining Bible truths and prophecy concerning the establishment of God's kingdom; to authorise and appoint agents, servants, employees, teachers evangelists, missionaries, ministers and others "to go all the world publicly and from house to house to preach Bible truths to persons willing to listen by leaving with such persons said literature and by conducting Bible studies thereon"; to improve people mentally and morally by instruction "on the Bible and incidental scientific, historical and literary subjects"; to establish and maintain Bible schools and classes; to "teach, train, prepare and equip men and women as ministers, missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and instructors in the Bible and Bible literature, and for public Christian worship of Almighty God and Jesus Christ" and "to arrange for and hold local and worldwide assemblies for such worship".
- An amendment to article V, detailing the qualifications for membership of the society. Each donation of $10 to the society funds had formerly entitled the contributor to one voting share; the amendment limited membership to "only men who are mature, active and faithful witnesses of Jehovah devoting full time to performance of one or more of its chartered purposes ... or such men who are devoting part time as active presiding ministers or servants of congregations of Jehovah's witnesses". The amended article stipulated that "a man who is found to be in harmony with the purposes of the Society and who possesses the above qualifications may be elected as a member upon being nominated by a member, director or officer, or upon written application to the President or Secretary. Such members shall be elected upon a finding by the Board of Directors that he possesses the necessary qualifications and by receiving a majority vote of the members ... " The amendment limited membership at any one time to between 300 and 500, including approximately seven residents of each of the 48 states of the US. It also introduced a clause providing for the suspension or expulsion of a member for wilfully violating the society's rules, or "becoming out of harmony with any of the Society's purposes or any of its work or for wilful conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the Society and contrary to his duties as a member, or upon ceasing to be a full-time servant of the Society or a part-time servant of a congregation of Jehovah's witnesses".
- An amendment to article VII, dealing with the governance of the society by its board of directors. The amendment deleted reference to adherence to the constitution and laws of Pennsylvania of the US. It also specified powers of the board including matters of finance and property.
- An amendment to article VIII, detailing the office holders of the society and the terms of office and method of appointment of officers and directors. A clause stating that board members would hold office for life was deleted. The new clause provided for board membership for a maximum of three years, with directors qualifying for re-election at the expiration of their term.
Governing Body 
In 1976, direction of the Watch Tower Society and of the congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide came under the control of the Governing Body, reducing the power of the society's president. The society has described the change as "one of the most significant organizational readjustments in the modern-day history of Jehovah's Witnesses."
Following the death of Knorr in 1977, subsequent presidents of the Watch Tower Society have been Frederick W. Franz (June 1977 – December 1992); Milton G. Henschel (December 1992 – October 2000) and Don A. Adams (October 2000–).
|Name||Date of birth||Date of death||Started||Ended|
|William Henry Conley||June 11, 1840||July 25, 1897||February 16, 1881||December, 1884|
|Charles Taze Russell||February 16, 1852||October 31, 1916||December 15, 1884||October 31, 1916|
|Joseph Franklin Rutherford||November 8, 1869||January 8, 1942||January 6, 1917||January 8, 1942|
|Nathan Homer Knorr||April 23, 1905||June 8, 1977||January 13, 1942||June 8, 1977|
|Frederick William Franz||September 12, 1893||December 22, 1992||June 22, 1977||December 22, 1992|
|Milton George Henschel||August 9, 1920||March 22, 2003||December 30, 1992||October 7, 2000|
|Don Alden Adams||1925||–||October 7, 2000||incumbent|
The corporation is a major publisher of religious publications, including books, tracts, magazines and Bibles. By 1979, the society had 39 printing branches worldwide. In 1990 it was reported that in one year the society printed 696 million copies of its magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! as well as another 35,811,000 pieces of literature worldwide, which are offered door-to-door by Jehovah's Witnesses. As of 2013, the Society prints more than 43 million of its public issues of these magazines each month, totaling over 1 billion annually.
The society describes its headquarters and branch office staff as volunteers rather than employees, and identifies them as members of the Worldwide Order of Special Full-Time Servants of Jehovah's Witnesses. Workers receive a small monthly stipend with meals and accommodation provided by the society. The "Bethel family" in the Brooklyn headquarters includes hairdressers, dentists, doctors, housekeepers and carpenters, as well as shops for repairing personal appliances, watches, shoes and clothing without charge for labor.
The society files no publicly accessible financial figures, but reported in 2011 that it had spent more than $173 million that year "in caring for special pioneers, missionaries and traveling overseers in their field service assignments". Donations obtained from the distribution of literature is a major source of income, most of which is used to promote its evangelical activities.
Author James Beckford has claimed the status of voting members of the society is purely symbolic. He said they cannot be considered to be representatives of the mass of Jehovah's Witnesses and are in no position to challenge the actions or authority of the society's directors.
Property ownership 
United States 
The corporation was first located at 44 Federal St, Allegheny, Pennsylvania (the city was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907), but in 1889 moved to "Bible House", newly built premises at 56–60 Arch St, Allegheny, owned by Russell's privately owned Tower Publishing Company. The new building contained an assembly hall seating about 200, as well as editorial, printing and shipping facilities and living quarters for some staff. The title for the building was transferred in April 1898 to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.
In 1909 the society moved its base to Brooklyn. A four-story brownstone parsonage formerly owned by Congregationalist clergyman and social reformer Henry Ward Beecher at 124 Columbia Heights was converted to a residence for a headquarters staff of 30, as well as an office for Russell. A former Plymouth church building at 13–17 Hicks St was also purchased and converted into Watch Tower headquarters, with room for 350 staff. It contained an 800-seat assembly hall, shipping department and printing facilities. The Watch Tower announced: "The new home we shall call 'Bethel,' and the new office and auditorium, 'The Brooklyn Tabernacle'; these names will supplant the term 'Bible House.'" In October 1909 an adjoining building at 122 Columbia Heights was bought. In 1911 a new nine-story residential block was built at the rear of Bethel, fronting on Furman St and overlooking the Brooklyn waterfront. The Brooklyn Tabernacle was sold in 1918 or 1919.
Printing facilities were established in Myrtle St, Brooklyn in 1920 and from the February 1, 1920 issue The Watch Tower was printed by the society at the plant. Two months later the plant began printing The Golden Age. In 1922 the printing factory was moved to a six-story building at 18 Concord St, Brooklyn; four years later it moved again to larger premises, a new eight-story building at 117 Adams St, Brooklyn, at which time the Bethel home was rebuilt and enlarged. In December 1926 a building at 126 Columbia Heights was bought and a month later the three buildings from 122–126 Columbia Heights were demolished and rebuilt for accommodation and executive offices, using the official address of 124 Columbia Heights.
In 1946, property surrounding the Adams St factory was bought to expand printing operations (when completed in 1949 the factory occupied an entire block bounded by Adams, Sands Pearl and Prospect Streets) and five more properties adjoining 124 Columbia Heights were purchased for a 10-story building. In the late 1950s a property at 107 Columbia Heights, across the road from 124 Columbia Heights, was bought and by 1960 a residential building for staff was constructed there. More residences were built at 119 Columbia Heights in 1969.
The Watchtower detailed further expansion in the 1950s and 1960s: "In 1956 a 13-story building was constructed at 77 Sands St. Then just across the street another (10-story building) was purchased in 1958. In 1968 an adjoining 11-story new printing factory was completed. Along with the factory at 117 Adams Street, these fill out four city blocks of factories that are all tied together by overhead bridges. Then, in November 1969, the Squibb complex, located a few blocks away, was purchased."
The society bought the Towers Hotel at 79–99 Willow St in 1974 for accommodation, which is connected to the society's other Columbia Heights properties via underground tunnels. The site of the former Margaret Hotel at 97 Columbia Heights about 1980 to erect an 11-story residential building. In 1978 a property at 25 Columbia Heights underwent renovation for use as offices and in the early 1980s properties were bought at 175 Pearl St and 360 Furman St for factory and office use. A building at 360 Furman St was bought in March 1983 and renovated, providing almost 9 hectares of floor space for shipping, carpentry and construction. The Bossert Hotel at 98 Montague St was also bought in 1983 as a residence building. A property at 90 Sands St was bought in December 1986 and a 30-story residential building for 1000 workers was completed on the site in 1995. A 1996 publication listed other Watch Tower residential buildings in Brooklyn including the 12-story Bossert Hotel, 34 Orange St (1945), Standish Arms Hotel at 169 Columbia Heights (1981), 67 Livingston St (1989), and 108 Joralemon St (1988).
Two properties known as Watchtower Farms, at Wallkill, 160 km north of Brooklyn and totaling 1200 hectares, were bought in 1963 and 1967 and factories erected in 1973 and 1975. In 1984 the society paid $2.1 million for a 270 hectare farm at Patterson, New York for a development that would include 624 apartments, garages for 800 cars and a 149-room hotel. Other rural purchases included a 220 hectare farm near South Lansing, New York and a 60 hectare farm near Port Murray, New Jersey.
In February 2009 the society paid $11.5 million for 100 hectares of land in Ramapo, Rockland County, New York for an administration and residential complex. The site was reported to be planned as a base for about 850 Watch Tower workers, creating a compound combining residential and publishing facilities currently located in Brooklyn. A Witness spokesman said the land was currently zoned for residential uses, but an application would be made to rezone it, adding that "Construction is several years in the future."
A year later, the Society announced it planned to move its world headquarters from Brooklyn to a proposed eight-building complex, in addition to the current four-building complex on a 100-hectare Watch Tower property in Warwick, New York, 1.5 km from its Ramapo site. A Watch Tower presentation to Warwick planning authorities said the complex would house up to 850 people. In July 2012, the Warwick planning commission approved the environmental impact statement for building the Warwick site. In August 2011, a 50-acre property was bought in Tuxedo, NY, with 184,000 square foot building, for $3.2 million, six miles from the Warwick site to facilitate the staging of machinery and building materials.
Brooklyn property sales 
In 2004 the society began transferring its printing operations to its Wallkill factory complex. The move triggered the sale of a number of Brooklyn factory and residential properties including:
- 360 Furman St, sold in 2004 for $205 million;
- 67 Livingston St, (nicknamed the Sliver) sold in 2006 for $18.6 million.
- 89 Hicks St, sold in 2006 for $14 million.
- Standish Arms Hotel, 169 Columbia Heights, sold in 2007 for $50 million.
- 183 Columbia Heights, bought in 1986, offered for sale in 2007 and sold in April 2012 for $6.6 million.
- 161 Columbia Heights, bought in 1988, offered for sale in 2007 and sold in March 2012 for $3 million.
- 165 Columbia Heights, offered for sale in 2007 and sold in January 2012 for $4.1 million.
- 105 Willow St, offered for sale in 2007 and sold in April 2012 for $3.3 million.
- 34 Orange St, offered for sale in 2007 and sold in November 2012 for $2,825,000.
- Bossert Hotel, 98 Montague St, bought in 1983, offered for sale in 2008. Media reports in 2008 claimed a deal had been struck for more than $100 million, although the deal later fell through. As of May 2012, discussion was under way for the property to be rezoned for a hotel developer, Rosewood Realty Group, which bought it for $81 million.
- 50 Orange St, bought in 1988, renovated to sell 2006, and sold in December 2011 for $7.1 million.
- 67 Remsen St, sold in 2012 for $3.25 million.
- Three adjoining properties (173 Front St, 177 Front St and 200 Water St) sold together for 30.6 million in April 2013 to Urban Realty Partners.
In 2011 the Watch Tower Society was reported to still own 34 properties in Brooklyn; a 2009 report calculated "a dozen or more" properties in the Brooklyn area, including two large parking lots with a residential zoning. In a 2010 news report the Watch Tower Society said it was "not actively promoting" the sale of eight Brooklyn properties still on the market. In September 2011, the Watch Tower Society put five more of its Brooklyn properties on the market through a brokerage. Six properties in Brooklyn were sold between December 2011 and May 2012, then another in November 2012. The Watch Tower Society put another three properties up for sale through a brokerage in June 2012. The Watch Tower Society put 67 Remsen Street up for sale in July 2012. Three adjoining properties in Dumbo, NY, in Brooklyn, sold in April 2013. One of the Watch Tower Society's remaining twenty Brooklyn properties are on the market.
Other countries 
In 1900 the Watch Tower opened its first overseas branch office in Britain. Germany followed in 1903 and Australia in 1904. By 1979 the society had 39 printing branches throughout the world, with facilities transferred to farming properties in many countries including Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and Australia. In 2011, the Watch Tower Society had 98 branch offices worldwide reporting to New York directly, other nations' offices report to large branches nearby.
- Don Alden Adams, director since 2000, president since 2000
- Danny L. Bland, director since 2000
- William F. Malenfant, director since 2000, vice-president since 2000
- Robert W. Wallen, director since 2000, vice-president since 2000
- Philip D. Wilcox, director since 2000
- John N. Wischuk, director since 2000
Directors are listed generally from most to least recent. List may not be complete.
- Richard E. Abrahamson (director 2000-2004, secretary-treasurer 2000-2004)
- Milton George Henschel (director 1947–2000, vice-president 1977–1992, president 1992–2000)
- Lyman Alexander Swingle (director 1945–2000)
- W. Lloyd Barry (director ?–1999, vice-president ?–1999)
- Frederick William Franz (director 1945–1992, vice-president 1945–1977, president 1977–1992)
- Grant Suiter (director 1941–1983, secretary-treasurer)
- William K. Jackson (director 1973–1981)
- Nathan Homer Knorr (director 1940–1977, vice-president 1940–1942, president 1942–1977)
- John O. Groh (director 1965–1975)
- Thomas J. Sullivan (director 1932–1973)
- Alexander Hugh Macmillan (director 1918–1938)
- Hugo Henry Riemer (1943–1965)
- William Edwin Van Amburgh (director 1916–1947, secretary-treasurer)
- Hayden Cooper Covington (director 1940–1945, vice-president 1942–1945)
- Joseph Franklin Rutherford (director 1916–1942, acting president 1916–1917, president 1917–1942)
- Charles A. Wise (director 1919–1940, vice-president 1919–1940)
- J. A. Baeuerlcin (director 1923 fl)
- R. H. Barber (director 1919)
- Charles H. Anderson (director 1918–?, vice-president 1918–1919)
- J. A. Bohnet (director 1917–?)
- George H. Fisher (director 1917–?)
- W. E. Spill (director 1917–?)
- Andrew N. Pierson (director 1916–1918, vice-president)
- Robert H. Hirsh (director 1917)
- J. D. Wright (director fl1916–1917)
- Isaac F. Hoskins (director fl1916–1917)
- Alfred I. Ritchie (director 1916–1917, vice-president)
- Henry Clay Rockwell (director fl1916–1917)
- Charles Taze Russell (director 1884–1916, president 1884–1916)
- William M. Wright (?–1906)
- Henry Weber (director 1884–1904, vice-president 1884–1904)
- Maria Russell (née Ackley) (director 1884–1897, secretary-treasurer 1884–?, then-wife of Charles Taze Russell)
- J. B. Adamson (director 1884–?)
- Rose J. Ball (director 1884–?)
- Simon O. Blunden (director 1884–?)
- W. C. McMillan (director 1884–?)
- W. I. Mann (director 1884, vice-president 1884)
- J. F. Smith (director 1884)
Critics including Raymond Franz, Edmond C. Gruss and James Penton have accused the society of being authoritarian, controlling and coercive in its dealings with Witnesses. Franz, a former Governing Body member, has claimed the Watch Tower Society's emphasis of the term "theocratic organization" to describe the authority structure of Jehovah's Witnesses, which places God at the apex of its organization, is designed to exercise control over every aspect of the lives of Jehovah's Witnesses and condition them to think it is wrong for them to question anything the society publishes as truth. The Watch Tower Society has been accused of employing techniques of mind control on Witnesses including the direction to avoid reading criticism of the organization, frequent and tightly controlled "indoctrination" meetings, regimentation, social alienation and elaborate promises of future rewards. Apart from life stories, the authors of all Watch Tower Society magazine articles and other publications are anonymous and correspondence from the society does not typically indicate a specific author or personal signature.
See also 
- Bible Student movement
- Corporations of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Criticism of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses
- History of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Organizational structure of Jehovah's Witnesses
- Pennsylvania Department of State.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, p. 49
- Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. p. 229.
- "Jehovahs loses comp case: Church may be forced to pay millions", New York Daily News, January 6, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- Yearbook, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2009.
- Yearbook, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 2012, page 55.
- "Report for Fiscal Year", Watch Tower, December 1, 1896, page 301, Reprints page 2077 Retrieved 2010-03-30, "WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY. REPORT FOR FISCAL YEAR ENDING DEC. 1, 1896. ALTHOUGH the above has been the recognized name of our Society for some four years, it was not until this year that the Board of Directors took the proper steps to have the name legally changed from ZION'S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY to that above. The new name seems to be in every way preferable."
- "Development of the Organization Structure", Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993 Watch Tower, page 229, "Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society. First formed in 1881 and then legally incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania on December 15, 1884. In 1896 its name was changed to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Since 1955 it has been known as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania."
- Franz 2007, pp. 80–107
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1993, pp. 575–576
- Zion's Watch Tower: 1. July 1879.
- "Encyclopædia Britannica – Russell, Charles Taze"
- Zion's Watch Tower, January 1881, Reprints page 1.]
- Zion's Watch Tower, April 1881, Reprints page 214.
- Zion's Watch Tower: 2. January 1882.
- J.F. Rutherford, A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens, 1915, p. 14.
- C.T. Russell, "A Conspiracy Exposed", Zion's Watch Tower Extra edition, April 25, 1894, page 55-60.
- C.T. Russell, "A Conspiracy Exposed", Zion's Watch Tower Extra edition, April 25, 1894, page 55-60, "The affairs of the Society are so arranged that its entire control rests in the care of Brother and Sister Russell as long as they shall live. ... The fact is that, by the grace of God, Sister R. and myself have been enabled not only to give our own time without charge to the service of the truth, in writing and overseeing, but also to contribute more money to the Tract Society's fund for the scattering of the good tidings, than all others combined."
- Wills 2006, p. 91
- J.F. Rutherford, A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens, 1915, p. 14., "While there are nearly two hundred thousand shares, and it would be an easy matter to elect some other man as president, there never has been cast a vote against Pastor Russell. At the last election he was absent, his own votes were not cast, yet more than one hundred thousand votes of others were cast for him as president."
- Zion's Watch Tower, October 1894, page 330.
- Wills 2006, pp. 75
- Pierson et al 1917, p. 22
- Rutherford August 1917, p. 16
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, p. 48
- Allegheny City was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1909.
- Grizzuti Harrison 1978
- Penton 1997, p. 39
- Gruss 2003, p. 17
- "Girl's midnight visit to Pastor Russell", Brooklyn Eagle, August 14, 1909, "His wife, whom he married 30 years ago, when she was Maria F. Ackley, obtained a limited divorce from him in Pittsburg on the ground of cruelty. The judge who decided for Mrs Russell granted her $100 a month alimony. Pastor Russell was slow in coming to the front with payments and finally stopped paying alimony altogether. An order was ordered for the pastor's arrest in Pittsburg, but Brooklyn is a comfortable enough place and Pastor Russell didn't like going back to Pittsburg where a yawning prison awaited him. He said that his friends had paid the alimony, anyhow, and that he was purged of contempt of court thereby."
- Gruss 2003, pp. 25–27
- Pierson et al 1917, pp. 5,6
- Pierson et al 1917, pp. 4
- Rutherford August 1917, pp. 12
- Rutherford August 1917, pp. 22–23
- Rutherford August 1917, pp. 14,15
- Pierson et al 1917, pp. 9
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1993, pp. 68
- Macmillan 1957, pp. 106
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1975, pp. 93–94
- Rogerson 1969, pp. 39
- Wills 2006, pp. 175, 176
- Consolation, September 4, 1940, pg 25, as cited by Penton, pg. 61.
- Wills 2006, pp. 201
- Watchtower, June 15, 1938.
- Amendments to articles II, III, VII, VIII and X were passed unanimously, with more than 225,000 votes cast; the amendments to article V of the Charter, affecting qualifications for membership of the society, were passed 225,255 to 47.
- Articles of amendment to Watch Tower Society charter, February 15, 1945. Retrieved October 4, 2009.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1993, pp. 108–109
- Brooklyn Heights Press, March 15, 1990, page 1, as cited by Edmond C. Gruss, 2003, pages 72–73.
- A 1990 news report stated that Brooklyn workers received $80 per month to buy personal needs. See "A sect grows in Brooklyn", Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 1990.
- "A sect grows in Brooklyn", Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 1990.
- Yearbook, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 2012, page 55.
- Penton 1997, p. 231
- Beckford, James A. (1975). The Trumpet of Prophecy: A Sociological Study of Jehovah's Witnesses. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 83. ISBN 0-631-16310-7.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, pp. 27
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, pp. 47–48
- Watch Tower March 1, 1909, pages 67,68.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, p. 115
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, pp. 97
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, pp. 234
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, pp. 253–255
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, pp. 292
- The Watchtower, September 1, 1989, page 29.
- The Watchtower, December 1, 1982, page 23.
- The Watchtower, April 15, 1996, page 24.
- Awake!, April 22, 1989, pages 25–27; "In fact, the Towers, 124 Columbia Heights, 107 Columbia Heights, and 119 Columbia Heights, which accommodate nearly 2000 of the family, are connected by underground tunnels."
- Yearbook, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, page 25.
- Centennial of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1984, pages 8–9.
- "New Shipping Facilities of Jehovah’s Witnesses", Awake!, August 22, 1987, pages 16–18.
- Jehovah's Witnesses sell the former Hotel Bossert
- Awake!, February 22, 1987, pages 25–27.
- "Watchtower project grows in Patterson", New York Times, April 18, 1983, 1993. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- "Watchtower Society may move some NY offices", WCAX website, March 26, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- "A Witness to the future as Watchtower buys land upstate", The Brooklyn Paper, April 2, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- "Watchtower's move to Warwick? 'Not anytime soon'", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 24, 2011.
- "The Watchtower is getting tired of being shown the door in Brooklyn Heights", The New York Observer, October 25, 2011.
- "Historic Turning Point: After Century in Brooklyn, Watchtower Pulls Out of Heights", Brooklyn Heights, February 23, 2010.
- "The Witnesses Leave. Then What?", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 24, 2010.
- "Town OKs impact plan for Jehovah's Witnesses", Times Herald-Record, July 17, 2012.
- "Witnesses to Relocate World Headquarters", jw.org News, August 15, 2012.
- "Watchtower Buys Another Parcel", Times Herald-Record, August 25, 2011.
- "Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of NY Pay 3.2M for Flex Building", Costar Group, Sept. 21, 2011.
- "Annual Meeting Report", Aug. 15, 2012 Watchtower, page 17
- "Increased Activity at United States Bethel", Our Kingdom Ministry, September 2003.
- "Watchtower to sell 6 Brooklyn Heights properties", Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 26, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- "Selloff! But Witnesses say they will remain kings of Kings", The Brooklyn Paper, May 12, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- Yearbook, 1991, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, page 10.
- "Have a seat in the Standish", The Brooklyn Paper, December 15, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- Different Building, Same Buyer for Witnesses
- Group with big Brooklyn plan snaps up property
- Second Witnesses property fetches $4.1M
- Praise God! Another Watchtower Property Sells
- Watchtower Sells Yet Another Heights Property, Brownstoner Brooklyn Inside and Out, November 30, 2012.
- "Bossert sold?", The Brooklyn Paper, May 10. 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- New York Post, Brooklyn Blog, May 8, 2012, Brooklyn's Bossert Hotel could become a hotel again
- The Real Deal News, Nov. 12, 2012, Chetrit, Bistricer pay $81 million for Brooklyn's Bossert Hotel
- Jehovah's Witnesses Sell First Property for $7.1 million
- "Watchtower Sells 67 Remsen Street for 3.25 million", Brooklyn Heights Blog, October 10, 2012.
- "Jehovah's Witnesses Sell Latest Dumbo Development Site for $31M", The Real Deal, April 25, 2013.
- Hallelujah! "Jehovah's Witnesses land sell-off has Brooklyn dreaming big", Crain's New York Business, October 16, 2011.
- Watchtower Society selling five more properties in Brooklyn, NY, THE REAL DEAL, Sept. 16, 2011.
- "Big Deal: Jehovah's Witnesses List Prime Properties, The New York Times – City Room, September 16, 2011.
- "Jehovah's Witnesses Unload Carriage House--$3M Under Asking", Brooklyn Heights Blog, February 14, 2012.
- "Witnesses put prime Dumbo site on the block", Crain's New York Business, June 4, 2012.
- Latest Witnesses-owned property in Brooklyn Heights hits the market, THE REAL DEAL, July 24, 2012.
- "Bible Truth Triumphs Amid Tradition", The Watchtower, May 15, 1985, page 27.
- “Your Will Be Done on Earth”, The Watchtower, 1960, page 30.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society 1959, p. 33
- "Building to Jehovah’s Glory", The Watchtower, May 1, 1979, pages 26–29.
- 2012 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses p.32, 33, 55.
- Jehovah's Witnesses–Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Society. 1993. p. 91.
- "How the Governing Body Differs From a Legal Corporation", The Watchtower, January 15, 2001, page 28.
- "Moving Ahead With God’s Organization", The Watchtower, September 1, 1983, page 13.
- "The Governing Body", 1974 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, Watch Tower, page 258
- "Background of N. H. Knorr", Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993 Watch Tower, page 91
- "He Ran for “The Prize of the Upward Call” and Won!", The Watchtower, September 15, 1974, page 554, "On October 31, 1932, he [Sullivan] was made a member of the board of directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania; he was also one of the eleven-member governing body of Jehovah’s witnesses."
- "A Time of Testing (1914–1918)", Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993 Watch Tower, page 71, "Thomas (Bud) Sullivan, who later served as a member of the Governing Body, recalled: “It was my privilege to visit Brooklyn Bethel in the late summer of 1918 during the brothers’ incarceration."
- "Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord", The Watchtower, May 15, 1965, page 320.
- "Experiencing Jehovah’s Love", The Watchtower, September 15, 1964, page 571
- "Announcements", The Watchtower, May 15, 1965, page 320, "Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania announces herewith the death of Brother Hugo H. Riemer on March 31, 1965. After years of service as a pioneer publisher in the field, he was called to the Society’s Brooklyn headquarters in 1918, since which time he served with the Society’s headquarters till his death at eighty-six years of age. He was on the boards of directors of both the Society’s Pennsylvania corporation and its New York corporation, also serving in the official capacity of assistant secretary-treasurer of both corporations."
- "Organization of the Work", Watch Tower, December 1, 1916, page 391, Reprints page 6024 Retrieved 2010-03-30, "Two days after his [C. T. Russell's 1916] death the Board met and elected Brother A.N. Pierson as a member of the Board to fill the vacancy caused by Brother Russell's change. The seven members of the Board as now constituted are A.I. Ritchie, W.E. Van Amburgh, H.C. Rockwell, J.D. Wright, I.F. Hoskins, A.N. Pierson and J.F. Rutherford."
- "A Time of Testing (1914–1918)", Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993 Watch Tower, page 65, "So, two days after Russell’s death, the board of directors met and elected A. N. Pierson to be a member. The seven members of the board at that point were A. I. Ritchie, W. E. Van Amburgh, H. C. Rockwell, J. D. Wright, I. F. Hoskins, A. N. Pierson, and J. F. Rutherford."
- "Moving Ahead With God’s Organization", The Watchtower, September 1, 1983, page 14, "The Society’s secretary and treasurer, W. E. Van Amburgh, had become incapacitated due to advanced age and illness and so resigned from his position. I was elected to succeed him on February 6, 1947, and Brother Van Amburgh died the following day."
- "Testing and Sifting From Within", Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993 Watch Tower, page 622, "In 1916, W. E. Van Amburgh declared: “This great worldwide work is not the work of one person. . . . It is God’s work.” Although he saw others turn away, he remained firm in that conviction right down till his death in 1947, at 83 years of age."
- "How the Governing Body Differs From a Legal Corporation", The Watchtower, January 1, 2001, page 28, "In 1940, Hayden C. Covington—then the Society’s legal counsel and one of the “other sheep,” with the earthly hope—was elected a director of the Society. (John 10:16) He served as the Society’s vice president from 1942 to 1945. At that time, Brother Covington stepped aside as a director"
- Rutherford chaired executive meetings in 1916 but was not formally elected president until 1917. During Rutherford's 1918–1919 incarceration, vice-presidents Anderson and Wise chaired executive meetings.
- "A Time of Testing (1914–1918)", Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993 Watch Tower, page 68, "At the annual meeting held on January 5, 1918, the seven persons receiving the highest number of votes were J. F. Rutherford, C. H. Anderson, W. E. Van Amburgh, A. H. Macmillan, W. E. Spill, J. A. Bohnet, and G. H. Fisher. From these seven board members, the three officers were chosen—J. F. Rutherford as president, C. H. Anderson as vice president, and W. E. Van Amburgh as secretary-treasurer."
- Faith on the March by A. H. Macmillan, 1957, Prentice-Hall, pages 106, 110, "At New Year's time the Society held its  annual election of officers in Pittsburgh. ...He [Rutherford] handed me a telegram saying that he had been elected president and C. A. Wise vice-president. ...C. A. Wise was there too. He had been elected vice-president while we were in prison."
- "Part 2—United States of America", 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, Watch Tower, pages 113–114, "Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, January 2–5, 1919. This assembly was combined with the very significant annual meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society on Saturday, January 4, 1919. ...There were nominations, a vote was taken and J. F. Rutherford was elected as president, C. A. Wise, as vice-president, and W. E. Van Amburgh, as secretary-treasurer."
- "Sweden", 1991 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, Watch Tower, page 135
- The Watchtower, October 15, 1939, pages 316–317
- Watch Tower, December 15, 1923, page 333
- The Watchtower, October 15, 1939, pages 316–317, "The Society’s annual meeting in 1919 Jan. 4 in Pittsburgh reelected J.F. Rutherford President and W.E. VanAmburgh Secretary-Treasurer. But the others elected to the Board of Directors, viz. C.A. Wise (Vice President), R.H. Barber [...] were freer to carry out their responsibilities. When the imprisoned leaders were released, Barber resigned"
- "Ritchie, A. I.", Watchtower Publications Index 1930–1985, "RITCHIE, A. I. vice president of Watch Tower Society (1916)"
- Watch Tower, January 1885, Vol VI, No. 5, page 1, [Reprints page 707], "A charter of incorporation for Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was granted December 13, 1884. ...The incorporators are the Directors, named below... Directors C. T. Russell, Pres., M. F. Russell, Sec and Treas., W. C. McMillan, W. I. Mann, Vice Pres., J. B. Adamson, J. F. Smith."
- "Passed Beyond the Vail", Watch Tower, April 15, 1906, page 126, Reprints page 3765, "ANOTHER member of the Board...Brother William M. Wright, passed beyond the vail, into the Most Holy, we trust, on April 3."
- "Harvest Gleanings III", Watch Tower, April 25, 1894, page 131, "The Corporation is to be managed by a Board of Directors consisting of seven members, and the names and residences of those already chosen directors are (we given names of the present board and officers) as follows: -Charles T Russell, President, W C McMillan, Henry Weber, Vice President, J B Adamson, Maria F Russell, Sec’y & Treas, Simon O Blunden. Rose J Ball."
- "Entered Into His Rest", Watch Tower, February 1, 1904, page 36, Reprints page 3314, Retrieved 2010-03-30, "PILGRIM Brother Henry Weber has passed beyond the vail, to be forever with the Lord. We rejoice on his behalf. He finished his earthly course on Thursday, January 21, at 2.15 pm, at his home --Oakland, Md.--and was buried on Saturday, the 23rd. A large gathering, composed of his family, friends and neighbors, was addressed by the Editor of this journal...we will sadly miss our dear Brother, as a friend and as a Pilgrim and as Vice-President of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society"
- "Part 1—United States of America", 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, Watch Tower, pages 65–66, "During the trouble in 1894, Mrs. C. T. Russell (the former Maria Frances Ackley, whom Russell had married in 1879) undertook a tour from New York to Chicago, meeting with Bible Students along the way and speaking in her husband’s behalf. Being an educated, intelligent woman, she was well received when visiting the congregations at that time. Mrs. Russell was a director of the Watch Tower Society and served as its secretary and treasurer for some years."
- The January 15, 1955 The Watchtower, page 46, referred to the former "Maria Frances Ackley, who had become a colaborer and a contributor of articles to the Watch Tower magazine. They came to have no children. Nearly eighteen years later, in 1897, due to Watch Tower Society members’ objecting to a woman’s teaching and being a member of the board of directors contrary to 1 Timothy 2:12, Russell and his wife disagreed about the management of the journal, Zion’s Watch Tower. Thereupon she voluntarily separated herself"
- Franz 2007, pp. 614–654
- Franz 2007, pp. 69–124
- The Watchtower, February 15, 1976, page 124, as cited by R. Franz, "In Search if Christian Freedom", page 107,"Would not a failure to respond to direction from God through his organization really indicate a rejection of divine rulership?"
- "Do not be quickly shaken from your reason", Watchtower, March 15, 1986
- "At which table are you feeding?" Watchtower, July 1, 1994
- Franz 2007, pp. 391–431
- Gruss 2003, pp. 110–114
- Holden 2002, p. 32
- Penton, James M. (1997). Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses (2nd ed.). University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3.
- Rogerson, Alan (1969). Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Constable, London. ISBN 094559406 Check
- Wills, Tony (2006). A People For His Name. Lulu Enterprises. ISBN 978-1-4303-0100-4.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society (1975). 1975 Yearbook. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society (1959). Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society (1993). Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society.
- Macmillan, A.H. (1957). Faith on the March. Prentice-Hall.
- Rutherford, J.F. (August 1, 1917). Harvest Siftings. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. Retrieved July 19, 2009.
- Rutherford, J.F. (October 1, 1917). Harvest Siftings, Part II. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. Retrieved July 19, 2009.
- Pierson et al, A.N. (September 1, 1917). Light After Darkness. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- Johnson, Paul S.L. (November 1, 1917). Harvest Siftings Reviewed. Retrieved July 21, 2009.
- Grizzuti Harrison, Barbara (1978). Visions of Glory – A History and a Memory of Jehovah's Witnesses. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7091-8013-5.
- Gruss, Edmond C., editor (2003). The Four Presidents of the Watch Tower Society. Xulon Press. ISBN 1-59467-131-1.
- Holden, Andrew (2002). Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26609-2.
- Franz, Raymond (2007). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. ISBN 0-914675-23-0.
- Botting, Heather; Gary Botting (1984). The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6545-7.