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Early Developments

C.T. Russell (1852-1916) was a charismatic public speaker and prolific writer who traveled widely and founded the movement's principal publishing and distributing organization, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania.

Schisms and Sects

The Jehovah's Witnesses second president, Joseph F. Rutherford (1869-1942), centralized the organizational structure of the movement. Some groups preferred to maintain their local autonomy, opting out of the Society but maintaining their Bible Student identity.

Mission and Expansion

The international spread of the Jehovah's Witnesses began with visits to Europe by C.T. Russell, the movement's first organizer. Witnesses are now organized in as many as 235 countries and islands around the world.

Exploration and Conquest

Jehovah's Witnesses teach non-cooperation with what they view as Satan's power on earth, which at times has led to conflict with neighbors and governments. Witnesses have submissively endured persecution ranging from mob attacks to imprisonment in concentration camps.

Modern Age

The Jehovah's Witnesses is a global organization supported by the multinational operations of the Watch Tower Society. The Society's emphasis on publication and distribution of movement-related magazines, books, and pamphlets has benefited from 21st-century technological innovations.