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The Slavonic Mutual and Benevolent Society was founded in San Francisco in 1857 by Slavic immigrants, primarily from the region of present day Croatia. The original membership also included a sprinkling of Montenegrins and other Slavic immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires.
Until 1975 the Society was based on fraternal membership, a type of organization with a long tradition among the fishermen and miners from Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.
After 1975 membership was opened to women and other nationalities reflecting the cultural diversity and cultural interests of the larger San Francisco Bay Area community.