Dorcas Society

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Edwin Long's A Dorcas Meeting in the 6th Century (painted 1873–1877) imagines an early Dorcas society.

A Dorcas society is a local group of people, usually based in a church, with a mission of providing clothing to the poor. Dorcas societies are named after Dorcas (also called Tabitha), a person described in the Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 9, v. 36).[1][2]

One Dorcas society was founded in Douglas, Isle of Man in December 1834, as part of the community's thanksgiving for being spared from an outbreak of cholera.[3] Other Dorcas societies were established by missionaries in the Americas in the early 1800s.[4][5] One English Dorcas society in Sydenham met during five Tuesdays in Lent, producing 166 garments in one year.[6]

Dorcas societies were at their height in the 1800s,[6] but there are still Dorcas societies around the world, providing clothing and other physical needs.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b Lockyer, Herbert (1967). All the women of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. pp. 46–48. ISBN 0310281512. 
  2. ^ a b Achtemeier, Elizabeth (2003). Preaching and Reading the Old Testament Lessons, Volume 3. CSS Publishing. p. 123. ISBN 0788019430. 
  3. ^ Isle of Man Dorcas Society
  4. ^ Keller, Rosemary; Ruether, Rosemary; Cantlon, Marie (2006). Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America: Women and religion: methods of study and reflection. Indiana University Press. p. 245. ISBN 025334686X. 
  5. ^ Errington, Elizabeth Jane (1995). Wives and Mothers, School Mistresses and Scullery Maids: Working Women in Upper Canada, 1790-1840. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 174. ISBN 0773513094. 
  6. ^ a b Richmond, Vivienne (1995). Clothing the Poor in Nineteenth-Century England. Cambridge University Press. p. 216. ISBN 1107042275.