AAAS Archives Site

150 Years of Advancing Science: A History of AAAS
AAAS and the Maturing of American Science: 1941-1970

Travel restrictions and rationing limited AAAS activities during World War II.  The 1942 and 1943 meetings were canceled and the 1945 meeting was postponed to March 1946.  To keep in touch with AAAS members during this period (and to avoid having to go through Cattell), Moulton, in 1942, started a newsletter, the AAAS Bulletin. 

After the war, AAAS entered a period of rapid change.  With the transfer of power from Cattell and the old guard, a new generation of leaders began the process of modernizing the Association.  A new constitution, adopted in 1946, set new objectives: 

The Association did little, however, to implement its new constitutional objectives until the early 1950s.  As more and more disciplinary societies began to go their own way and stopped meeting with AAAS it became apparent that, in the words of 1944-45 president Anton J. Carlson, AAAS needed to "find another function or die." 
Arden House Arden House. Photo courtesy of Columbia University.

Under the leadership of Warren Weaver, a mathematician and Rockefeller Foundation Executive who had been pushing AAAS to take on a new role in reaching out to the public, the AAAS executive committee scheduled a special conference in September 1951 at Columbia University's Arden House.  The Arden House conference, attended by the executive committee and a number of consultants chosen by Weaver, defined AAAS as it exists today. 

With a growing membership, the takeover of Science in 1946, and expanded aims, AAAS required more staff and more space.  In 1946, for $147,650 ($100,000 of which had been raised from its membership), AAAS acquired a new home, a set of old red-brick houses on a trapezoidal-shaped block at 15th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in Washington.  The Association moved into the largest of the five houses, a 26-room mansion, renting the top floor to the American Psychological Association. 

Although the new quarters were a major improvement over the cramped space in the Smithsonian, the Association soon decided to tear down the existing structures and erect a new, larger building for itself and a number of other scientific societies.  The building that was finally built at 1515 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, while smaller than some of the proposals, was distinctive -- noted especially for its energy-conserving louvers -- and served the Association well for many years.  AAAS moved into it in June 1956, renting the top floor to several other societies.  The building was sold in 1985; today it is the Embassy of Tunisia.

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