Skip to main content

EPADEL:A Semisesquicentennial History, 1926-2000

Section 1.4 Sections

Although the New York Mathematical Society had expanded to the American Mathematical Society in \(1894\text{,}\) few Midwesterners were able to make the long journey to the Society’s meetings, which continued to be held in the East. Todress this issue, a two-day conference was convened in Chicago on December 31, 1896, with the aim of founding a local section of the American Mathematical Society. When the resulting resolutions were later transmitted to the AMS 1 , the Council of the Society authorized the formation of sectional meetings by adding a new clause to its by-laws. The first official meeting of the Chicago Section of the AMS 2  was held on April \(24\text{,}\) \(1897\text{.}\)
Other parts of the country soon caught the sectional fever. The San Francisco Section was formed in \(1902\) and the Southwestern Section in \(1906\text{.}\) However, as a sign of persisting regional biases, meetings of the Chicago Section were not designated as official AMS 3  meetings until 1913, and meetings of other Sections not until \(1929\text{.}\) Such a designation was important professionally because publication in the Transactions of the AMS 4 , for instance, was only possible for papers presented at official Society meetings.
In short, the AMS 5  was established from the NYMS in \(1894\text{,}\) with its first three sections formed in \(1897\text{,}\) \(1902\text{,}\) and \(1906\text{.}\) The MAA 6  was founded in \(1915\text{.}\) How long did it take this organization to form sections?
It took just a few minutes.
The MAA 7  constitution was drawn up on the first day of its organizational meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on December \(30\text{,}\) \(1915\text{.}\) The authors specifically provided for the formation of sections, so by the time the constitution was formally adopted the next day a group from Kansas had already drafted a petition to become the first official section of the newly formed Association.
Yet that honor would go to a group from another state. A group of college mathematics teachers in Ohio also met on the first day of the organizational meeting to vote on whether to form the Ohio Section of the newly formed MAA 8 . Organizationally savvy, they created a special committee at once to prepare their own constitution. Therefore the Ohio group, like their counterparts in Kansas, was poised for action when the national MAA 9  constitution was approved.
Within one hour of the adoption of the MAA 10  constitution on December \(31\text{,}\) three state organizations presented petitions to become formal sections, with Missouri joining Kansas and Ohio. It is no wonder that Missouri would position itself favorably. Since \(1894\text{,}\) college mathematics teachers in the appropriately nicknamed “Show Me” state provided sufficient support for the publication of the American Mathematical Monthly under Benjamin F. Finkel. Besides, Earle R. Hedrick, then at the University of Missouri, was one of the founders of the national MAA 11  and served as its first president.
However, the fact that Ohio State was the site of the MAA 12  organizational meeting afforded a distinct advantage in the contest to become the first official MAA 13  section. So, not surprisingly, Ohio beat Missouri by a few minutes in the heated race to secure the first section charter. Kansas placed third.
Faced with the overwhelming and immediate response of applications from three state associations, the Council of the MAA 14  [now called the Board of Governors] created a Committee on Sections right there at its own organizational meeting to formulate terms under which sections could be approved. The application from Ohio was the first to be granted, on March \(1\text{,}\) \(1916\text{.}\)
The Ohio Section was not the first to hold an official sectional meeting, however. That honor reverted to the Kansas Section, which met on March \(18\) at the University of Kansas. The Ohio Section held its first meeting a month later for two days, and has held annual meetings every spring since then except for the year \(1945\text{.}\) Meanwhile the Missouri Section waited until November to hold its first meeting.
Four more MAA 15  sections were formed during the year \(1916\text{.}\) Three of these represented midwestern states: Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota. The other section established that year had a different geographical boundary: the Maryland-Virginia-District of Columbia Section.
Over the next \(10\) years state sections were formed in Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, and Nebraska. Three other sections were formed from unions of states - the Rocky Mountain Section (Colorado and Wyoming), the Southeastern Section (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the two Carolinas, and Tennessee) and the Louisiana-Mississippi Section. One new section was a subset of a state - the Southern California Section. The latter was formed at the urging of Earle Hedrick, who had moved from the University of Missouri to the University of California, Southern Branch (now UCLA). Hedrick acted as temporary chairman of the section until a formal election of officers could be held.
Altogether, then, \(16\) sections were formed up to \(1925\text{.}\) Our section would be next.