History of Mensa

Mensa of Western Washington exists to

  • Identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity through scholarships, gifted children’s programs, and other supportive activities
  • Encourage research into the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence
  • Provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members

The founding of Mensa

Mensa was founded in Oxford, England, in 1946 by Roland Berrill and Lancelot Lionel Ware. Berrill was an Australian expatriate licensed to practice law. Dr. Ware was a Ph.D. on his way to becoming a barrister who had become interested in intelligence testing while working at the National Institute for Medical Research.

They met by chance on a train and subsequently corresponded, primarily about the possible formation of a club — a longtime dream of Ware’s. Early in 1946, Ware administered the Cattell III test to Berrill, and Berrill went off in search of his constituency. On Oct. 1, 1946, Berrill had the first piece of Mensa literature printed, and the date is now the recognized founding date for the organization.

Today, Mensa is an international society whose only qualification for membership is a score in the top 2 percent of the general population on a standardized intelligence test.  With more than 100,000 members representing more than 100 countries, Mensa continues to provide social interaction and community involvement worldwide.

You might enjoy the following YouTube videos about Mensa:

A variety of videos about Mensa International:

              Mensa International Topics 1

              Mensa International Topics 2

Mensa Research and Education Foundation: Mensa Foundation

History of North American Mensa:

        Part One: History of North American Mensa Part 1

        Part Two: History of North American Mensa Part 2

What does “Mensa” mean?

The word mensa means “table” in Latin; similarly, mens means “mind” and mensis means “month.”  The name “Mensa” is reminiscent of “mind, table, month,” which suggests a monthly meeting of great minds around a table.