Pre-Columbian Society of Washington DC

The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. (PCSWDC), is an educational organization dedicated to furthering knowledge and understanding of the peoples of the Americas before the time of Columbus. Founded in 1993, the Society provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding these pre-Columbian cultures between academic professionals and interested members of the public.

This Spring members of the Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. will be asked to vote on proposed changes to the Society's bylaws.The proposed changes to the existing bylaws, last changed in 2009, are designed to engage more members in the activities and management of the Society. Below are the bylaws as they will be, if adopted, by the membership. Comparison of the changes between the 2009 and the proposed bylaws will be published in the Society's April issue of the Smoking Mirror. Members will vote on the proposed changes in May of this year.




A. The Society exists to increase awareness and understanding of pre-Columbian cultures and to provide a forum for exchange of information regarding those cultures. In furtherance of this purpose, the Society will seek to stimulate interest in pre-Columbian cultures via a regular series of monthly program meetings presenting lectures, films, literature, and related or specialized studies. In addition, the Society may sponsor or conduct other related activities which may include, but are not limited to, symposia, seminars, special interest and study groups, and publications. The Society will at all times seek to provide an atmosphere that encourages the widest possible participation of all interested individuals, whether avocational or professional.

B. The Society is a non-profit educational organization, recognized by the Internal Revenue Service with a 501(c)(3) designation. Notwithstanding any other provision of the Bylaws the Society shall not, except to an insubstantial degree, engage in activities or exercise any powers that are not in furtherance of the stated purposes of the Society.


A. Individuals interested in pre-Columbian matters and agreeing with the purposes of this organization are eligible for membership. There are three categories of membership: Individual; Household (two or more individuals residing at the same address); and Honorary (free membership granted to an individual according to criteria determined on a case-by-case basis by the Executive Committee). Members are entitled to receive the Society’s monthly  newsletter and electronic announcements.

B. The membership period for Individual and Household members will be one year, commencing in the month following acceptance of the membership application.

C. Members shall abide by the Society’s bylaws.

D. Annual subscriptions to the Society newsletter shall be available to persons residing outside a 100-mile radius of Washington, D.C. Complimentary newsletter subscriptions may be provided to individuals, such as meeting and symposium speakers, as designated by the Executive Committee.

E. Member dues and subscriber rates shall be established by the Executive Committee.


A. Composition. An Executive Committee shall be elected by the members and shall be composed of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and up to eight at large representatives.

B. Term. The elected term of each member of the Executive Committee shall be for two years commencing on July 1.

C. Duties of the Executive Committee.

1. Conduct the business of the Society, including finances.

2. Execute the policies and procedures of the Society, and act generally for the Society. Binding decisions require approval by a majority of the Executive Committee.

3. Review and approve the calendar of monthly programs prior to finalization by the Program Chair.

4. Appoint or reappoint a newsletter editor annually or as necessary to fill a vacancy. Establish general policies, guidelines, and oversight for the newsletter and all other recurring communication vehicles of the Society, including but not limited to email alerts, webpages, and social media.

5. Review and concur with the appointment by the PCS President and Vice President of a Chair (or Co-Chairs) from the PCS membership to lead and coordinate the planning and execution of the annual PCS Symposium.

6. Establish or disband a Special Interest Group upon the Executive Committee’s analysis of membership interest.

7. Review and approve the appointment by the President of a PCS member to temporarily fill a mid-term vacancy on the Executive Committee and in other Society positions until the time of the next annual election.

8. Appoint members of the Electoral Committee.

9. Appoint and charge additional committees as necessary. Policy proposals of such committees must be approved by the Executive Committee.

D. Duties of Officers.

1. President.

a. Set Executive Committee meeting dates and notify Executive Committee members according to notification requirements.

b. Preside over the Society’s monthly meetings.

c. Ensure the satisfactory performance of fellow officers and appointees.

d. Represent the Society with all external organizations and at events.

2. Vice President/Program Chair.

a. Perform the President’s duties in that officer’s absence.

b. As Program Chair, prepare a calendar of programs for Executive Committee approval and organize the schedule of special events.

c. Preside over the program portions of the Society’s monthly meetings or delegate such responsibilities to a monthly program designee.

3. Secretary.

a. Record and file minutes of Executive Committee meetings.

b. Attempt to secure copies of speakers’s talks for publication in the newsletter. If such copies are not available, prepare transcripts of the talks, subject to approval by the speakers.

c. Maintain records concerning the legal, administrative, and educational functions of the Society.

d. Carry out official correspondence of the Society in conjunction with the President.

4. Treasurer.

a. Act as custodian of the funds of the Society. Deposit all money in the name of the Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C., in an established bank account.

b. Accept payment by mail, through electronic media, and at meetings for new memberships and renewals.

c. Disburse funds for honoraria, printing, mailing, refreshments, and other costs upon the valid request of a PCS member. Checks and withdrawals shall require the signatures of two officers, one of which normally should be the Treasurer.

d. Disburse funds to pay vendors, service providers (such as Internet host), and others with whom the Society does business after careful review and acceptance of itemized invoices and/or contract agreements. 

e. Make a brief financial report each June at the annual meeting.

f. Maintain membership information and provide monthly updates to members of the Executive Committee and others who have a need to know, such as the newsletter editor.

g. Be responsible for preparation of such reports and tax returns as may be required of the Society by applicable State and Federal laws and maintain file of reports and returns.

h. Acknowledge by letter all donations to the Society donations regardless of the amount.

5. Newsletter Editor.

a. Produce the Society newsletter. The Newsletter Editor shall have full editorial freedom within the guidelines, oversight, and general policy established by the Executive Committee.

b. Attend the Executive Committee meetings as a non-voting member.

E. Executive Committee Meetings.

1. The Executive Committee shall meet quarterly, or more frequently as needed.

2. Notice of a meeting must be made by the President to Executive Committee members not less than seven days prior to the meeting.

3. While all Executive Committee members need not be in attendance for meetings, a majority of the Executive Committee, whether present or not, is required to make binding decisions.

4. Meetings of the Executive Committee shall be open to members of the Society, who shall be invited to attend in a non-voting capacity.


A. Purpose. An Electoral Committee shall be appointed by the Executive Committee by February 20 of every odd-numbered year. The Electoral Committee has the responsibility of soliciting the membership to secure a slate of nominees and any other matters requiring a vote of the membership.

B. Duties. The specific duties of the Electoral Committee are to:

1. Secure nominations from the membership.

2. Contact nominees for acceptance of nomination and secure a brief biography and statement of goals from each nominee.

3. Provide the membership, one month prior to the Annual Meeting:

a. A brief biography and statement of goals by each candidate.

b. A ballot containing all candidates and matters requiring a vote of membership.

c. The date the ballot is to be returned for tabulation by the Electoral Committee.

4. Announce election results at the Annual Meeting.


A. The Executive Committee shall establish special interest groups based on the analysis of membership interest or needs. The Committee will appoint a person to form each special interest group established.

B. The group so formed will select a coordinator who will report to the Executive Committee and Society membership.


A. Each individual and honorary member shall have one vote, and each household membership shall have two votes, in the election of the Executive Committee and on matters presented to the membership. (Newsletter subscribers [paid or complimentary] do not have Society voting rights.)

B. Matters voted upon at meetings require a quorum of 15 percent of the membership.

C. A majority of the votes cast is required for a matter to pass and for a candidate to be elected.


A. The Annual Meeting shall be the June monthly meeting of the Society.

B. The purposes of the meeting shall be:

1. Introduction of newly elected Executive Committee members.

2. Announcement of bylaws amendments, if any, and other matters as voted upon by the membership.

3. Proposal of and decisions on policies and procedures of the Society, previously announced.


A. Proposed amendments to the bylaws shall be submitted by mail or electronic media to the membership at least one month prior to a vote.

B. Amendments will be voted upon as provided in Section VI, Voting.


A. The Society shall terminate when there are fewer than 10 members as defined in Section II, Membership.

B. Upon dissolution of the Society, all unobligated assets shall be distributed to the Pre-Columbian Program at the Dumbarton-Oaks Research Library and Collection.

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