1907 American Association of Museums Meeting Identifications

Meeting History

W.J. Holland

The “informal meeting” in Washington, D. C., December 21, 1905

Holland’s comments in the Proceedings (pages 1–3) on the creation of AAM disclose that an informal meeting was held at the National Museum in Washington, D. C. on December 21, 1905, for the “purpose of discussing the advisability of endeavoring to establish an association of the museums of America.” Representatives from the nine participating institutions selected Holland to prepare a letter of invitation to be circulated to interested persons, a task he had accomplished by December 27. The nine people whose names appeared on the invitation letter were:

  • Richard Rathbun, Assistant Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, in charge of the U. S. National Museum
  • H. C. Bumpus, Director, American Museum of Natural History
  • W. P. Wilson,. Director, Philadelphia Museums
  • F. A. Lucas, Curator-in-Chief, Brooklyn Institute
  • N. L. Britton, Director, New York Botanical Garden
  • F. J. H. Skiff, Director, Field Museum of Natural History
  • W J McGee, who did not use periods after his initials; Director, St. Louis Public Museum
  • Samuel Henshaw, Curator, Museum of Comparative Zoology
  • W. J. Holland, Director, Carnegie Museum

AAM 1906

First Meeting of the American Association of Museums on steps of Museum of the New York Botanical Society, May 16, 1906

The December 27 letter invited interested persons to attend a preliminary meeting to be convened at the American Museum of Natural History on May 15, 1906, in order to organize The Museums Association of America. The venue in New York was arranged through the “courteous invitation of Dr. H. C. Bumpus”. Holland included with the letter a note stating: “I herewith enclose an invitation from the heads of nine of the museums of America, who met informally on December the 21st, to discuss the propriety of endeavoring to establish The Museums Association of America.” Thus, in two instances these initial documents show that the name as originally conceived was altered by having its word order reversed in the name ultimately selected, The American Association of Museums. Although this is not certain, it may be that the original name was put forth to resemble a counterpart association in the United Kingdom, The Museums Association of Great Britain. Invitations to the meeting in New York also were extended through the columns of the journal Science.

The First Meeting of AAM, New York City, May 15–16, 1906

The Proceedings volume records the minutes of the first meeting in New York City, May 15–16, 1906 (pages 4–14), contains the Constitution of the American Association of Museums (pages 15–-16), and lists Life Members, Active Members, and Sustaining Members (pages 17–22), signifying by asterisk those persons deemed to be Charter Members. The session of May 15 was held at the American Museum of Natural History. Holland called the morning meeting to order, since he was the person who had issued the initial invitation, but he promptly made a motion whereby Dr. Hermon C. Bumpus was called upon to preside.

Cover Page

As Chair, Bumpus asked Holland to read the names of persons who were present (71 individuals) and those who “signified” by letter (43 individuals and 2 institutions). Thereafter, a Committee of Organization was appointed and met to draft a Constitution. The Committee consisted of Holland, W. M. R. French (Art Institute of Chicago), P. M. Rea (Charleston Museum, South Carolina), James E. Talmage (Deseret Museum, Salt Lake City, Utah), and W. P. Wilson (Philadelphia Commercial Museums). That afternoon the Committee presented a rough draft of the constitution, heard suggestions from the floor, and retired to revise the draft document.

The session of May 16 was convened at the Museum of the New York Botanical Society, Bronx Park, at the invitation of Director N. L. Britton. H. C. Bumpus carried on as Chair. The Committee on Organization submitted a report recommending adoption of the draft of the constitution. Although the report of the Committee was adopted, the Constitution was understood to be a preliminary document, subject to revision at the next annual meeting. The Committee of Organization was discharged. The Constitution in Article I recorded the name as The American Association of Museums. W. J. Holland was elected as Second Vice-President of AAM at the afternoon meeting of this session. The Association tendered its thanks to Dr. Holland for the “active interest which he had shown in bringing about the formation of the Association.” Toward the close of the first AAM meeting, Holland presented to the membership an invitation from the Trustees of the Carnegie Museum to hold the next meeting of the Association in Pittsburgh. The invitation was accepted.

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