ACLS and ASA...
Reflections in 1999
Just 80 years ago, in 1919, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) was established to represent the United States within the Union Academique Internationale (UIA) which itself was just established "to encourage cooperation in the advancement of studies in those branches of learning promoted by the Academies....philosophy, archaeology, history, the moral, political, and social sciences."
Recognizing the need for organizational leadership in advancing scholarship and learning, the ACLS was founded by 12 scholarly societies. In 1919, the American Sociological Association (then the American Sociological Society) joined with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Antiquarian Society, the American Economic Association, the American Historical Association, the American Philological Association, the American Philosophical Society, and the Archaeological Institute of America. In 1920, the American Oriental Society, the American Philosophical Association, the American Political Science Association, and the Modern Language Association of America were admitted to ACLS. Journals of the founders are depicted in the display that is the cover of the ACLS new Annual Report.
From this small beginning, currently 61 national scholarly associations constitute the ACLS. The mission of the ACLS is "the advancement of humanistic studies in all fields of learning in the humanities and the social sciences and the maintenance and strengthening of relations among the national societies devoted to such studies." True to this mission, the ACLS continues to pursue initiatives as funder of scholars, as convener of scholarly planning and exchange, as collaborator on scholarly projects, and as advocate for humanistic scholarship.
Just this past fall, Executive Officer Felice Levine attended a small planning meeting convened by the ACLS on behalf of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on assessing and promoting the wellbeing of humanistic work. Levine sits on the ACLS Conference of Administrative Officers. Mayer N. Zald (University of Michigan) serves as ASA's delegate to ACLS. For further information on the ACLS see www.acls.org.