A Brief History of The Stoic Registry

by: Erik Wiegardt, Founder

The idea for a registry of Stoics actually began in 1964 when I was 19 years old and a private in the US Army. I had recently discovered the Discourses of Epictetus, and after reading it I remember saying to myself, I'm a Stoic. I felt so strongly about being a Stoic that I wished there was some place where I could sign up, some place where I could make a declaration, take vows, whatever, and officially be a Stoic. At that time, such a place did not exist.

Thirty-two years later, on 8 MAY 1996, I founded a website called The Stoic Registry. Until that day, I had never met another person who was interested in Stoicism. I was sure there must be someone out there somewhere, and I wanted to find him, or her, but I was also aware that I may have been on a fool's errand. I thought that if I couldn't find anyone who was already a Stoic, maybe I could get other people interested. I decided to write a book about Stoicism, one that was comprehensible to the average reader, and give it away.

First I had to create a web site, and to do that I had to have a computer. I had never owned a computer and didn't know how to use one. In 1996, a decent computer started at about $2500, and I paid for mine by working overtime–after my 12-hour shift as a Correctional Deputy at an honor camp for adult male felons. I didn't really like working overtime after my 12-hour day, so I kept a record of exactly how much money I needed to buy a computer, and I took my name off the overtime list as soon as I had that amount.

The good thing about this job at the honor camp was that although I worked long hours, seven days in a row, at the end of my full week on duty I got seven days off. In the weeks off, I studied academic tomes on Stoicism at the local university library and wrote The Path of the Sage: An Introduction to Stoic Philosophy. Then, I self-published 100 copies, hired a webmaster, and as soon as the Registry was up I gave them all away. They were offered free to anyone who happened upon the website and asked for one. I even paid the postage–all over the world.

That was how The Stoic Registry began. Eleven years later, after searching and finding only 100 Stoics worldwide, I started a newsletter which I wrote, printed, and mailed to our members. The newsletter was automated digitally and eventually became the eMagazine, Registry Report. Slowly our membership grew. In 2009, following a suggestion from one of the members, we voted on a new name, and The Stoic Registry became New Stoa. It was hoped that we could have a real community. But, after trying everything we could think of we eventually had to admit that with the advent and explosion of social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, we simply could not compete with what they did so well.

On 28 NOV 2017, the Stoic Council, created years before to guide the direction of New Stoa, came to a unanimous conclusion: go back to the original purpose: Seek and find Stoics. This is what we do best. Our goal is to become the best resource of Stoic individuals and groups that can be found on the internet. From the beginning, it was conceived and preserved as a Big Tent, welcoming all Stoics regardless of their personal interpretations of what our philosophy means to them. And with that return to our roots we also once again embrace the name with which we began, The Stoic Registry.

Thank you for being with us.

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