1844 Henry David Thoreau publishes excerpt from Lotus Sutra in the Dial (journal of the New England Transcendentalists)

1853 First Buddhist temple in San Francisco founded by the Sze Yap Co.

1875 Theosophical Society established by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Henry Steele Olcott (1832-1907). American Olcott took the Buddhist refuge vows in Sri Lanka in 1880. He developed a Buddhist flag and "catechism."

1881 Pali Text Society established in London by Thomas W. Rhys Davids (1843-1922) for English translations and editing of the texts of the Pali canon or Theravada Tripitaka.

1882 Rhys David appointed professor of Pali at the University College in London

1889 Buddhist enters Hawai'i with Jodo Shinshu priest Soryu Kaghi

1893 World Parliment of Religions conference in Chicago with talks by Japanese zen master and Theravada monk stimulate interest in Buddhism in United States

1899 First permanent Jodo Shinshu missionaries found the Buddhist Mission of North America which later becomes the Buddhist Churches of America

1924 The Buddhist Lodge of the Theosophical Society founded by founded by Travers Christmas Humphreys (1901-1983)

1931 Zen Buddhist society formed in New York

1927 Zenshuji Soto Zen temple founded in Los Angeles

1931 Buddhist Society of America (Zen) founded in New York City

1943 The Buddhist Society, renamed from the Buddhist Lodge Society

1944 Buddhist Churches of America organize and unite Pure Land Buddhist temples in North America

1940s Richard Hugh Robinson (1926-1970) establishes the first graduate degree program in Buddhist studies (buddhology) in the United States at the University of Wisconsin in Madison

1950s Zen gains popularity through books by D.T. Suzuki at Columbia University and Alan Watts

1960's Robert A.F. Thurman (1941- ) first westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk and the first Jey Tsong Khapa CHair of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at COlumbia University.

1960 Establishment of a chapter of Nichiren Shoshu in California

1961 San Francisco Zen Center of Soto Buddhism founded by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, one of the oldest and most influential Zen centers in the United States

1964 The Buddhist Association of the United States establishes head office in Bronx, New York City

1966 The first Heravada temple in the United States is founded as the Washington Buddhist Vihara in Washington, D.C.

1968 Tibetan Buddhist master Tarthang Tulku starts teaching in United States

1970 Tibetan Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa begins teaching in United States

1974 Naropa Institute established by Chogyam Trungpa in Boulder, Colorado, becomes the first accredited Buddhist-inspired liberal arts college in the United States with goal of combining Buddhist contemplative practices with Western academic subjects following the model of thre Nalanda Monastic University

1976 International Association of Buddhist Studies established, publishes Journal of the IABS

Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the U.S.A., Inc, established to maintain unity, uniformity, cooperation, and exchange among Thai Buddhist monks in America (Rajavaramuni 1994:168-170)

1978 The Buddhist Peace Fellowship is founded by Robert Aitken, Anne Aitken, Nelson Foster, and others to bring a Buddhist perspective to the peace movement and the peace movement to the Buddhist community. BPF publishes The Turning Wheel.

1982 Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926) establishes Plum Village monastery and retreat center in southwestern France

1987 American Buddhist Congress founded

1988 Hsi Lai Temple opens in Hacienda Heights, California, as the largest Buddhist monastic complex in the Western hemisphere, an outgrowth of Taiwan-based Fo Kuang Buddhist movement

Wisdom Publications moved to Boston, Massachussetts, formerly associated with Wisdom Communications, Ltd., of London

1991 Tricycle: The Buddhist Review begins publication

1994 Online Journal of Buddhist Ethics started

1969 Shambhala Publications established from Berkeley metaphysics bookstore

1999 Centennial of the Buddhist Churches of America, the oldest institutional form of Buddhism in the United States


*Source: Data extracted mostly from Lester Seager (1999:267-270). (Also see Lorie and Foakes 1997, and Morreale 1998). 

Lorie, Peter, and Julie Fookes. The Buddhist Directory. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Co,, Inc.,1997.

Morreale, Don, Ed. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America.Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Seager, Richard Hughes. Buddhism in America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.