1852 (February 16) - Charles Taze Russell born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

-raised in strict Presbyterian home, father in clothing business.

-at age 16 is thoroughly routed by non-believer in evangelistic encounter over the horribleness of Hell.


1869 (November 8) - Joseph Franklin Rutherford, 2nd President of the Society, born in Morgan County, Missouri. Raised a Baptist


1870 - C.T. Russell attends meeting of Millerite, Jonas Wendell. Hears for first time denial of existence of Hell.

-studies Bible extensively, departs from Adventism on Biblical interpretation.

-teaches that Hell does not exist. His own Bible study group in Pittsburgh elect him as "Pastor."

-orthodoxy is castigated and slowly Russell becomes the sole source of truth for his followers.

-leaves clothing business to speak and preach.

1874 - According to Russell's theology Christ returned invisibly (2nd Presence). He actually "discovered" this in 1875.

1879 - Russell publishes "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence" magazine. This is the predecessor to their present magazine.

-the first issues went out at 6,000 a month.

-now printed (with Awake) at 1.1 million a day in 110 languages.

-Marries Maria Francis Ackley who understands Russell to be the "faithful and wise servant" of Matthew 24:45.

1880 - Bible Students in 7 states from East Coast to Ohio.

-said his system of theology was not his own invention. God revealed it to His humble servant.

-when asked how he received such information from God, he said...

1881 - Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society formed.


1882 - Russell rejects the doctrine of the Trinity.

1884 - Zion's Watch Tower and Tract Society officially incorporated. Twelve years later Zion is dropped from the title.

1889 - First building, headquarters, purchased in Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

1893 - Frederick Franz, 4th President of the Society, born on September 12.

1894 - Joseph Rutherford has first contact with Watchtower pioneers (missionaries).

1895 - "Congregations"/Bible study groups encouraged to study Russell's "Studies in the Scriptures" in their meetings.

-Russell's chief outlet for spreading his "truth."

-Series teaches that God has one harmonious plan for the ages and that this plan is gradually revealed.

-attacks creeds, denies eternal punishment, Trinity, the human soul, physical return of Christ.

-Russell felt that God had revealed His plan to him alone, orthodoxy was to be attacked because it was satanic.

-Russell discouraged his people from studying his earlier works because they were immature, theology always in flux, seeds of progressive revelation.

1896 - Maria, his wife, reverses stance on Matthew 24:45-47. Russell is no longer the "faithful and wise servant." He is now the "evil servant" of later verses.

1903 - Maria files for legal separation.


1905 - "Berean Studies" (Russell's teachings arranged topically) now used in all congregations.

- Nathan Homer Knorr, 3rd President of Society, born on April 23 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

1906 - Rutherford gives self "wholeheartedly to the movement."

1908 - Property acquired in Brooklyn, New York, future headquarters of the Society.

-purchase old Henry Ward Beecher home and church, Plymouth Bethel.

-building renamed Brooklyn Tabernacle.

1914 - God's kingdom to be ushered in on earth. "Times of the Gentiles" to end with Second Coming of Jesus to crush Gentile powers.

-Russell began to teach this back in 1891.

-"the full establishment of the Kingdom of God in the earth."


1915 - Russell reinterprets failure of 1914 prophecy, refuses to acknowledge failure. 1914 did bring an end to the "Time of the Gentiles" but it is progressive, to be completed in a few years.


1916 - Charles Taze Russell dies.


1917 - Joseph Franklin Rutherford is legally elected 2nd President of the Society. A time of great administrative reorganization and restructuring begins. Rutherford begins a purge of all dissenters.

-struggle with Paul Johnson of International Bible Students in England.

-fight finally broke out at lunch at Bethel Headquarters.

-Rutherford has physical tussle with Johnson.

During the next 13 years splinter groups formed in protest to the many changes that occurred in the Society: Layman's Home Missionary Society, Pastoral Bible Institute, Stand Fast Bible Students Association, Dawn Bible Students, etc.

1918 - President Rutherford and 7 others jailed for anti war activities, gains martyr status.

1919 - All eight leaders are released from prison after nine months.

1920 - Legal indictments against the eight leaders are dropped. Rutherford publishes, "Millions Now Living Will Never Die!" In this booklet 1925 is predicted as the end of the world, "the completion of all things."

- Rutherford shifts emphasis in Society from personal holiness to door-to- door evangelism.

- Rutherford carried on and intensified the organizations assertion that it is the sole repository of God's truth. That Rutherford himself is God's mouth piece.

1925 - "End of World" prediction vastly boosts Watchtower membership. People sell farms, businesses, homes, leave jobs, etc. in preparation for the end. Year passes quietly.

1926 - Disappointed tens of thousands leave Society during next couple of years.

1927 - Rutherford begins to change emphasis from Russell to the Society as the "faithful and wise servant." This "servant class," the 144,000, is now God's channel of communication.

1928 - Rutherford rejects Russell's Great Pyramid of Gizeh as a method of determining Biblical endtimes chronology.

1929 - Romans 13 is reinterpreted, all governments of the world are Satanically controlled.

1930 - The doctrine of Christ's Second Presence is changed from 1874 to 1914.

1931 - During the 1931 convention Rutherford's followers are called Jehovah's Witnesses based upon Isaiah 43:10.

1934 - Rutherford begins to guide the Society into a new purpose, the vindication of Jehovah's name. This is a shift from being at least somewhat "Christ" centered to being centered on Jehovah of the Old Testament.

1935 - Saluting the flag is idolatry.

1936 - Rutherford increases the Society's alienation from Christendom by proclaiming the cross is a pagan symbol.

1938 - The United States is divided into 11 regions, 148 zones.

1939 - In the continuing change from Christ centered to Jehovah centered, the official magazine publication is changed from, "The Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence" to "The Watch Tower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom."

1942 - Joseph Rutherford dies, 108,000 members in Society. Nathan Homer Knorr becomes the 3rd President of the Society. Great time of education and training. Also a time of whitewashing the public image.

- Society membership about 129,000.

1943 - Theocratic Ministry School established. Intent is to train men on the local level in public speaking, use of Bible aids, etc.

- Watch Tower Bible School of Gilead founded in South Lansing, New York. This is designed to train the best for overseas missionary work.


1946 - Congregations organized into circuits, overseen by circuit servants.

1950-1961 - The New World Translation of the Bible is published and distributed.

-under Knorr's leadership the Watchtower continued to maintain that the Bible could not be understood apart from their direction...

1957 - Thirteen-story printing plant built in Brooklyn, New York.

1958 - The Kingdom Ministry School is established to prepare and train circuit overseers.

1960 - New eleven story Headquarters built in Brooklyn, New York.

1961 - Receiving a blood transfusion becomes a "disfellowshiping" offense.

1966 - The year 1975 is revealed as the end of 6,000 years of man's existence. The Millennial reign will begin.

1974 - Witnesses encouraged to sell their homes and spend remaining months in full time service to Jehovah. Membership increases dramatically since 1975 prediction.

1975 - The year passes quietly. Little is said about the failed prophecy until 1979. During the next few years many leave the Society.

1977 - Nathan Knorr dies. Society membership over 2 million.

1979 - Frederick Franz elected to Presidency. Power base has been transferred to the Governing Body. Position of President is now like figurehead.

1980-1982 - Intellectuals purged from the Society.

1992 - Frederick Franz dies at age 98. Milton Heschel elected 5th President of the Society. Membership close to 5 million.


-The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society was born because of the ability of a man to explain away his failed prophecies.

-according to Baldwin, a lawyer for the ACLU, the success of the Jehovah's Witnesses...

-the very thing that Russell warned against has come to pass. He warned that organizations that demand allegiance to maintain unity are harmful to human lives. He even identified forced allegiance as the cause of apostacy in the early Church.