The Jane Austen Society of North America is dedicated to the enjoyment and appreciation of Jane Austen and her writing. JASNA is a nonprofit organization, staffed by volunteers, whose purpose is set forth in its Vision and Mission statements:
Because literature has the power to change and enrich our lives, we want to see more people reading the great authors, with special emphasis on Jane Austen.
Our mission is to foster among the widest number of readers the study, appreciation, and understanding of Jane Austen’s works, her life, and her genius.
JASNA was founded in 1979 by Joan Austen-Leigh, Henry G. Burke, and J. David Grey. One hundred Janeites attended the society’s inaugural dinner, October 5, 1979, at the Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan. The event was covered by The New Yorker magazine in a “Talk of the Town” item, which began, “Some people who like Jane Austen got together the other evening . . . ” The society’s ranks have grown considerably in the past quarter century, but its collegiality and purpose remain the same.
JASNA’s over 5,000 members are of all ages and from diverse walks of life. In addition to members in the United States and Canada, its rolls include Austen admirers from more than a dozen countries. Members at a local JASNA meeting may discuss an Austen novel, hear a lecture about Austen or the Regency era, enjoy a tea or Box Hill picnic, or learn English country dancing. Members participate in these and other activities by joining any of the more than 70 regional groups, which also celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday December 16 with a tea or luncheon.
Each autumn several hundred members gather for the Annual General Meeting (AGM), a three-day conference with an Austen theme hosted by a JASNA region in Canada or the United States. The AGM features dozens of lectures by Austen scholars and JASNA members, as well as workshops, exhibits, entertainment, tours, and a banquet and Regency ball.
JASNA’s annual journals, Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line, are preeminent sources for Austen studies. JASNA News, mailed to members three times a year, carries features, book reviews, news from the AGM and regions, and reports about Austen sites in England. The society also conducts an annual student Essay Contest and sponsors occasional tours to England.
JASNA relies for its funding primarily on membership dues and contributions. The society also provides support to sites in England that have close ties to Jane Austen and her family. Contributions to JASNA are tax-deductible and are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt. JASNA is a section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
Joan Austen-Leigh (1920-2001)
Henry G. Burke (1902-1989)
J. David Grey (1935-1993)