American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (abbreviation: AAAS) is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. It was founded in 1780 during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin,[1] Andrew Oliver, and other Founding Fathers of the United States.[2] It is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences logo
FormationMay 4, 1780 (1780-05-04); 241 years ago
TypeHonorary society and independent research center
HeadquartersCambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
more than 5,700 active members, across the United States and around the world
The House of the Academy, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Membership in the academy is achieved through a thorough petition, review, and election process.[3] The academy's quarterly journal, Dædalus, is published by MIT Press on behalf of the academy.[4] The academy also conducts multidisciplinary public policy research.[5]


The Academy was established by the Massachusetts legislature on May 4, 1780, charted in order "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people."[6] The sixty-two incorporating fellows represented varying interests and high standing in the political, professional, and commercial sectors of the state. The first class of new members, chosen by the Academy in 1781, included Benjamin Franklin and George Washington as well as several international honorary members. The initial volume of Academy Memoirs appeared in 1785, and the Proceedings followed in 1846. In the 1950s, the Academy launched its journal Daedalus, reflecting its commitment to a broader intellectual and socially-oriented program.[7]

Since the second half of the twentieth century, independent research has become a central focus of the Academy. In the late 1950s, arms control emerged as one of its signature concerns. The Academy also served as the catalyst in establishing the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. In the late 1990s, the Academy developed a new strategic plan, focusing on four major areas: science, technology, and global security; social policy and education; humanities and culture; and education. In 2002, the Academy established a visiting scholars program in association with Harvard University. More than 75 academic institutions from across the country have become Affiliates of the Academy to support this program and other Academy initiatives.[8]

The Academy has sponsored a number of awards and prizes,[9] throughout its history and has offered opportunities for fellowships and visiting scholars at the Academy.[10]

In July 2013, the Boston Globe exposed then president Leslie Berlowitz for falsifying her credentials, faking a doctorate, and consistently mistreating her staff.[11] Berlowitz subsequently resigned.[12][13]


The Humanities Indicators

A project of the Academy that equips researchers, policymakers, universities, foundations, museums, libraries, humanities councils, and other public institutions with statistical tools for answering basic questions about primary and secondary humanities education, undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities, the humanities workforce, levels and sources of program funding, public understanding and impact of the humanities, and other areas of concern in the humanities community.[14][15][16][17] It is modeled on the Science and Engineering Indicators, published biennially by the National Science Board as required by Congress.


Founding members

Charter members of the Academy were John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Bacon, James Bowdoin, Charles Chauncy, John Clarke, David Cobb, Samuel Cooper, Nathan Cushing, Thomas Cushing, William Cushing, Tristram Dalton, Francis Dana, Samuel Deane, Perez Fobes, Caleb Gannett, Henry Gardner, Benjamin Guild, John Hancock, Joseph Hawley, Edward Augustus Holyoke, Ebenezer Hunt, Jonathan Jackson, Charles Jarvis, Samuel Langdon, Levi Lincoln, Daniel Little, Elijah Lothrup, John Lowell, Samuel Mather, Samuel Moody, Andrew Oliver, Joseph Orne, Theodore Parsons, George Partridge, Robert Treat Paine, Phillips Payson, Samuel Phillips, John Pickering, Oliver Prescott, Zedekiah Sanger, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, Micajah Sawyer, Theodore Sedgwick, William Sever, David Sewall, Stephen Sewall, John Sprague, Ebenezer Storer, Caleb Strong, James Sullivan, John Bernard Sweat, Nathaniel Tracy, Cotton Tufts, James Warren, Samuel West, Edward Wigglesworth, Joseph Willard, Abraham Williams, Nehemiah Williams, Samuel Williams, and James Winthrop.


From the beginning, the membership, nominated and elected by peers, has included not only scientists and scholars, but also writers and artists as well as representatives from the full range of professions and public life. Throughout the Academy's history, 10,000 fellows have been elected, including such notables as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John James Audubon, Joseph Henry, Washington Irving, Josiah Willard Gibbs, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Willa Cather, T. S. Eliot, Edward R. Murrow, Jonas Salk, Eudora Welty, and Duke Ellington.

International honorary members have included Jose Antonio Pantoja Hernandez, Albert Einstein,[18] Leonhard Euler, Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander von Humboldt, Leopold von Ranke, Charles Darwin, Otto Hahn, Jawaharlal Nehru, Pablo Picasso, Liu Guosong, Lucian Michael Freud, Luis Buñuel, Galina Ulanova, Werner Heisenberg, Alec Guinness, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Menahem Yaari, Yitzhak Apeloig, Zvi Galil, Haim Harari, and Sebastião Salgado.[19]

Astronomer Maria Mitchell was the first woman elected to the Academy, in 1848.[20]

The current membership encompasses over 5,700 members based across the United States and around the world. Academy members include more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.[21]

Classes and sections

The current membership is divided into five classes and twenty-four sections.[22]

Class I – Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Class II – Biological Sciences

Class III – Social Sciences

Class IV – Arts and Humanities

Class V – Public affairs, business, and administration

  • Section 1. Journalism and Communications
  • Section 2. Business, Corporate and Philanthropic Leadership
  • Section 3. Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Philanthropic Administration

Presidents, 1780–present

  • 1780–1790 James Bowdoin
  • 1791–1814 John Adams
  • 1814–1820 Edward Augustus Holyoke
  • 1820–1829 John Quincy Adams
  • 1829–1838 Nathaniel Bowditch
  • 1838–1839 James Jackson, M.D.[23]
  • 1839–1846 John Pickering[24]
  • 1846–1863 Jacob Bigelow
  • 1863–1873 Asa Gray
  • 1873–1880 Charles Francis Adams
  • 1880–1892 Joseph Lovering
  • 1892–1894 Josiah Parsons Cooke
  • 1894–1903 Alexander Agassiz
  • 1903–1908 William Watson Goodwin
  • 1908–1915 John Trowbridge
  • 1915–1917 Henry Pickering Walcott
  • 1917–1919 Charles Pickering Bowditch
  • 1919–1921 Theodore William Richards
  • 1921–1924 George Foot Moore
  • 1924–1927 Theodore Lyman
  • 1927–1931 Edwin Bidwell Wilson
  • 1931–1933 Jeremiah D. M. Ford
  • 1933–1935 George Howard Parker
  • 1935–1937 Roscoe Pound
  • 1937–1939 Dugald C. Jackson
  • 1939–1944 Harlow Shapley
  • 1944–1951 Howard Mumford Jones
  • 1951–1954 Edwin Herbert Land
  • 1954–1957 John Ely Burchard
  • 1957–1961 Kirtley Fletcher Mather
  • 1961–1964 Hudson Hoagland
  • 1964–1967 Paul A. Freund
  • 1967–1971 Talcott Parsons
  • 1971–1976 Harvey Brooks
  • 1976–1979 Victor Frederick Weisskopf
  • 1979–1982 Milton Katz
  • 1982–1986 Herman Feshbach
  • 1986–1989 Edward Hirsch Levi
  • 1989–1994 Leo Beranek
  • 1994–1997 Jaroslav Pelikan
  • 1997–2000 Daniel C. Tosteson
  • 2000–2001 James O. Freedman
  • 2001–2006 Patricia Meyer Spacks
  • 2006–2009 Emilio Bizzi
  • 2010–2013 Leslie C. Berlowitz
  • 2014–2018 Jonathan Fanton
  • 2019– David W. Oxtoby

See also


  1. Kershaw, G. E. (2014). American Academy of arts and sciences. In M. Spencer (Ed.), The Bloomsbury encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment. London, UK: Bloomsbury.
  2. "Yale Faculty Named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences". Yale University. May 4, 2004. Archived from the original on September 18, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  3. "Academy Bylaws – American Academy of Arts & Sciences". Archived from the original on June 2, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  4. "About the Academy". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
  5. "Our Work". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
  6. "Charter of Incorporation". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on January 3, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  7. "Gale Encyclopedia of US History: American Academy of Arts and Sciences".
  8. "Visiting Scholars Program". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  9. "Prizes". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
  10. "Fellowships". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
  11. "Leader of Cambridge's prestigious Academy of Arts and Sciences inflated resume, falsely claiming doctorate – The Boston Globe".
  12. Embattled head of American Academy of Arts and Sciences resigns after questions about resume – Metro. The Boston Globe (July 26, 2013). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  13. Academy loses a tireless advocate of arts, sciences – Letters. The Boston Globe (July 30, 2013). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  14. Humanities Indicators.
  15. Chronicle of Higher Education, "First National Picture of Trends in the Humanities Is Unveiled," January 7, 2009.
  16. "A New Humanities Report Card," September 4, 2013.
  17. "The State of the Humanities: Funding 2014" (PDF).
  18. "Albert Einstein". American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
  19. "Mr. Sebastiao Ribeiro Salgado". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  20. "She is an Astronomer" Maria Mitchell.
  21. "Hillary Rodham Clinton, Tyler Jacks, Andre Previn, and Melinda F. Gates Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. April 17, 2012.
  22. "Newly Elected Members, April 2014" (PDF).
  23. Bowditch, Nathaniel Ingersoll, Memoir of Nathaniel Bowditch, Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840. Cf. p.138
  24. White, Daniel Appleton, "Eulogy on John Pickering, LL. D., President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences", eulogy delivered to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, October 28, 1846; published in Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, v.3

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