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EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Section 1.1 The AMS

Neither the AMS 1  nor the MAA 2  was created in a vacuum. The history of professional organizations in the country began with associations devoted to more general scientific matters, such as the American Philosophical Society. The APS was founded in Philadelphia in \(1743\) as the country’s first professional society devoted to science. By the end of the 19 th century many of these general organizations evolved into societies dedicated to a particular science.
The first movement to form an organization of scientists interested primarily in mathematics took place in New York City in \(1817\) when a transplanted Englishman, William Marrat, convened a gathering of eight mathematicians. Although this group endured for eight years, it seems to have expired when Marrat returned to England in \(1825\text{.}\)
No attempt at founding an organization devoted to mathematics would occur for another 63 years. In \(1888\) Thomas Scott Fiske, inspired by meetings of the London Mathematical Society, returned to New York City from a yearlong visit to Cambridge, England, “filled with the thought that there should be a stronger feeling of comradeship among those interested in mathematics. I proposed to my classmates and friendly rivals, Jacoby and Stabler, that we should try to organize a local mathematical Society.” Together the three graduate students printed and distributed the notice of an organizational meeting of the New York Mathematical Society (NYMS). It is relevant to the history of EPADEL that the meeting was held on Thanksgiving Day (in particular, November \(24\text{,}\) \(1888\)).
Interest in the NYMS proceeded slowly at first but by the early 1890s its membership began to increase more rapidly, growing from only \(6\) in \(1888\) to \(251\) in \(1894\text{.}\) By \(1894\) there was sufficient demand to expand the Society’s meetings to locales beyond New York City. The name was changed to reflect this expansion to a national organization, called the American Mathematical Society. As a corollary, the Society’s officicial journal was renamed the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society.