The First Ten Years

The First Ten Years: Interesting Tidbits from the ESA Bulletin (1917?1925)
Kiyoko Miyanishi (from Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 94:204-209.

The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America was ESA’s first publication, beginning as a monthly in January 1917. Because a lack of material submitted during the war years made the Bulletins irregular, it was changed to a bi-monthly in January 1919, and then to a quarterly in 1922. The early Bulletins were only a few pages, but their reading provides an interesting look at how ESA has evolved. The following are some of the things I learned about the early years of ESA from the Bulletin.

At the December 1914 meeting of the AAAS in Philadelphia, 21 men met to discuss formation of a society. A subsequent circular was mailed out, calling ecologists to a meeting at the December 1915 AAAS meeting in Columbus, and 50 people in attendance voted in favor of forming The Ecological Society of America. A constitution was adopted and the first officers were elected (President Victor E. Shelford, Vice-President William M. Wheeler, and Secretary-Treasurer Forrest Shreve).

There were 284 charter members of ESA, with another 23 elected members, for a total of 307 members by the time the first membership directory was published in the March 1917 (Volume 1, No. 3) issue of the Bulletin. Of the 284 charter members, 21 (7.4%) had recognizably female names (the gender of members giving only initials could not be determined). Of the 307 initial members, there were 16 from Canada, 2 from the Philippines, and 1 each from British Guiana, Canal Zone, and Sweden. Some easily recognizable names included Beebe, Birge, Braun, Clements, Cooper, Cowles, Gleason, Juday, and Shelford. The second membership directory was published in July 1923; by this time, membership had increased to 475 with 52 (10.9%) recognizably female names. Almost all members indicated their employment position, and only a handful appeared to be students (of which one was Charles Elton). There were a surprising number of high school teachers among the early membership.

In 1915, ESA’s members paid annual dues of $1. The 1918 Treasurer’s report indicated an income from dues of $282.00 with expenses totalling $274.47. The major expense was printing Bulletins, circulars, and stationery. By 1922, dues had tripled to $3. After the dues were further raised to $4 in 1923 (this included subscriptions to Ecology and the quarterly Bulletin), the Secretary-Treasurer (A.O. Weese) noted in the Bulletin:

Posted in History

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