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History of the American Sociological Association

Establishment of the Organization

In the summer of 1905, Professor C.W.A. Veditz of George Washington University initiated a discussion among sociologists throughout the United States. He wrote to several dozen people to ask if there was need for or desire for forming an organization of sociologists. Dozens of letters were exchanged that summer. Ultimately, consensus was that the time had come for a society of sociologists in the United States.

In early December, Veditz and eight others wrote to roughly 300 people inviting them to attend a special session during the American Economic Association and American Political Science Association meetings later that month to discuss the possible formation of a society of sociologists.

At 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon, December 27th, approximately 50 people (yes, there was one woman present!) gathered in McCoy Hall at Johns Hopkins University. Before the meeting was adjourned, the group acted to form a new society of sociologists. The group debated whether this new society should be federated with another existing organization, such as the American Economic Association, but ultimately decided the new society should be an independent entity. At the end of the day, those gathered formed a five-person committee to develop a plan for the new society and how it should be governed.

All concerned re-convened at 3:30 the next afternoon to review the proposed structure of the society. The following men were elected officers of the new society: Lester Ward (President), William Sumner (First Vice President), Franklin Giddings (Second Vice President), C.W.A. Veditz (Secretary and Treasurer). Council members were: E. A. Ross, W.F. Wilcox, Albion Small, Samuel Lindsay, D. C. Wells, and William Davenport.

When they left Baltimore, the birth of the American Sociological Society was complete, a Constitution had been adopted, officers were elected, and plans were made for the second Annual Meeting of the new Society.

The First 75 Years

In 1981, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Association, Lawrence J. Rhoades prepared a history entitled A History of the American Sociological Association, 1905-1980. This 90-page publication provided a brief overview of the founding and early years of the Association, as well as highlights of key activities and events in the intervening decades. Proceed to A History of the American Sociological Association, 1905-1980.

The Next 25 Years

In 2005, in celebration of the Centennial of the founding of the Association, ASA published A History of the American Sociological Association, 1981-2004.  This 201-page book picks up where the 1981 Rhoades history left off and continues the story to through 2004. This volume is the culmination of more than two years of detailed research by Katherine J. Rosich. Proceed to A History of the American Sociological Association, 1981-2004.