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American Sociological Association: Rhoades History Introduction
Anniversaries are a time for celebration and for reflection. On the approach of the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the American Sociological Association, a number of members suggested that it would be an appropriate time to do a history of the Association. Many of the "records" of the Association, however, existed only in the memories of many different members, only some of whom are alive today. Our limited resources precluded interviewing those who could have provided information and "context". Instead, we utilized those "official" records easily available.
The product, thus, does not detail a history of sociology in the U.S.; it deals with a history of an organization facing, over time, a series of problems. It is instructive to see the repetitiveness of concerns over years; the problems seldom change but much of any organization's history is the reworking of solutions.
The repetitive issues are as follows: What is the scope of the Association? What are the qualifications for membership? How should the annual meetings be organized? How should our publications be organized? How do we finance our activities? How do we relate to regional associations? How should we relate to other social science associations? How should we relate to government? How should we relate to our colleagues around the world? Should we have a permanent Executive Office? What should such an office do? How do we encourage good research? How do we reward scholarship? How do we encourage good teaching? How do we strengthen academic freedom? How do we improve the application of sociological knowledge to the problems of society? How do we improve our image in the larger society? How do we identify and increase employment opportunities? In this sense, the history is a record of continual problem-solving related to a set of persistent issues.
The history was written by Lawrence J. Rhoades, Executive Associate, and initially published in a series of articles in the Association's newsletter, FOOTNOTES. Dr. Rhoades' experience in the Executive Office made him aware of the various source materials on which the history was based. His skill in organizing that material in a coherent and readable form illustrates once again the contributions he has made over a number of years in communicating information and ideas to members of the Association. He has provided a base on which others can build later. I am indebted to him for his excellent work, represented here.