The Location of the AAUP's Founding

Several reports of the AAUP’s founding mention that it took place in the Chemists’ Club in New York.

While there is a website by the current Chemists’ Club, it moved its location and sold the building in which the founding took place.

I was able to locate information about the original location of the Chemists’ Club, which is 50-52 East 41st Street, down the street from both Penn Station and the New York Public Library. It turns out to be a hotel now, and when I conducted research on the AAUP’s history in the Columbia University Archives over Spring Break, we stayed there.

It’s worth a visit, particularly the restaurant, which is the only room large enough to have held that many people. The minutes of the meeting thank the Chemists’ Club and also “the Women’s University Club for hospitalities to women members of the profession in attendance at the meeting.”

Given how very male-dominated the profession was in 1915, it would be interesting to determine how many female professors were in attendance. There were around 250 attendees total, and several invitees who didn’t attend joined those present as charter members. The Association published a list of charter members who were invited to attend the organizational meeting and who joined during the first few months of 1915.

3 thoughts on “The Location of the AAUP's Founding

  1. Thoughts on the AAUP membership, inspired by the above post:

    “[I]t would be interesting to determine how many female members were in attendance.”

    If some of the presidentially-appointed committees — the AAUP Committee on the Organization of the Association” for example — actually researched these issues in preparation for the centennial, we would at the very least know how many of the charter members were women. It is not difficult to check with each of the universities listed in that linked publication to determine the full names of the great majority of the members recorded who used only initials and last names — which would then yield a better approximation of the male-female ratio.

    Instead, the recent generations of national AAUP leaders have been woefully ignorant of the history of the organization, and often simply invent some of it as they go along (the unconstitutional February 1st cutoff for voting rights, for example). Soon the centennial will be upon us, yet even now another election is taking place with members disenfranchised. Indeed, the AAUP National Council somewhat recently rescinded the more generous traditional grace period for membership renewals to limit it to a scant two weeks — even as the AAUP Constitution has been self-servingly amended by that same leadership to permit themselves to have 50% longer terms of office and thereby submit less frequently to the scrutiny of the membership.

    Who are the members of the AAUP, then or now?

    It is no wonder that the only memberships of the AAUP which appear to have increased in the past decade are those in unionized chapters where dues and/or agency fee payment are required. Unsurprisingly, advocacy chapters wane as “organizing” has become the AAUP’s “capital campaign” par excellence.

    At the same time, the AAUP leadership of recent years has intentionally crippled the Association of State Conferences, reducing it to a subjugated clerical committee despite its separate constitution which states: “The Assembly is a comprehensive entity, servicing state conferences as well as both traditional and collective bargaining chapters through their membership in their respective state conferences. The purpose of the Assembly shall be to promote the general objectives of the American Association of University Professors; to support development of state conferences and the member chapters; to facilitate cooperation and coordination of services among the state conferences and among the chapters and members of the various state conferences; and to provide for the dissemination of information” ( Clearly, that would be far too threateningly democratic for the AAUP leadership to accept: “a comprehensive entity” run by the membership for the membership.

    Hence, the AAUP is but a shadow of its former self; its evolution halted a few decades ago. Dewey and Lovejoy are turning in their graves….

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