The American Society for Cell Biology was organized in 1960 when a group of cell biologists,
headed by Keith R. Porter, met on January 9th and on May 28th to explore the desirability
of founding a new society and beginning the organization process. This move had been
suggested by two organized groups, the Tissue Culture Association and the Cell Biology
Study Section of the Public Health Service, and by a number of individual cell biologists.
On March 13, 1961 a provisional Executive Committee was appointed with Keith Porter
as Chairman; the new American Society for Cell Biology was incorporated in the State
of New York on July 31, 1961. The first meeting of the Society was held November 2-4,
1961 at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, Illinois and Don W. Fawcett was elected
the first president. In the early years, The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
was guided and operated by volunteers who served as officers, as members of Council,
or on various committees. The executive committee was made up of four officers: President,
President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and thirteen Council members. Unlike the President
and President-Elect who served for one year only, the Secretary and the Treasurer
served for several years running. From 1961-1978 only three members were elected Secretary:
Montrose J. Moses (1961-1967), George D. Pappas (1967-1973), and Nancy L. R. Bucher
(1973-1978). The Secretary’s office was the hub of the organization, sustaining its
continuity by guarding its archives, maintaining membership and dues billing records,
and, more importantly, coordinating the Society’s activities.
The Society expanded rapidly both in membership and in the number of committees that
carried out the Society’s activities. In July 1962, President Dan Fawcett appointed
a Publications Committee to look into the advantages and disadvantages of founding
a new journal or sponsoring an existing one. At the Annual Meeting on November 4,
1962, the Council unanimously voted to recommend cosponsorship of the Journal of Cell
Biology (JCB) in conjunction with the Rockefeller Institute. A proposal to the editors
of JCB and the president of Rockefeller Institute was approved, and by April 1963
the membership had approved the proposal by an overwhelming vote. The members of ASCB
had a particular interest in the issue of education in the biological sciences, and
by 1966 the Educational Policy Committee was a standing committee. This committee
was to perform a significant part of the work of the Society, sponsoring workshops
and providing funding for students and teachers by way of grants from organizations
such as the National Science foundation and others. In addition, a small group of
members, realizing the importance of contacting legislators and other government officials
about funding, especially NIH funding for the discipline of Cell Biology, began to
monitor legislation. By 1971, recognizing that the relationships between government
and the universities and the scientific community were changing, this unofficial group
became a new committee, the Public Policy Committee. Its task would be not to monitor
only legislation and the development of public policy regarding the biological sciences,
but also to take an active role in helping to shape that policy.
ASCB hosted the First International Congress for Cell Biology in conjunction with
its Seventeenth Annual Meeting at Boston, in 1976. It was an such an enormous undertaking
for the young society that it was clear that the Society would have to change its
management style if future challenges were to be met. In the fall of 1977, Nancy Bucher,
Secretary of the Society at the time of the Congress, sent a letter to President-Elect
Keith Porter suggesting the establishment of a permanent business office. She felt
that the Society’s established mode of operating was no longer practical due to the
greatly increased size of the membership, the consequent requirements for office space,
and the demands on the Secretary’s time. She recommended that while the Secretary
would continue to make decisions regarding policy, routine business should be handled
by an executive officer in a central office. This central office would also assist
the Treasurer and perform much of the routine work that burdened the Program Chairperson
and eventually take over the Placement Service. At the Annual Meeting in San Diego,
the Council agreed that a national office should be established. At the same time
that Nancy Bucher and Keith Porter asked Emma Shelton to run for the office of Secretary
and to take over the duties of establishing and managing a permanent office.
A lease for office space in Bethesda, Maryland was signed on October 1, 1978 and Marion
Cyr was hired as the new administrative assistant. The first order of business was
to transfer to the Bethesda office the files of the Secretary as well as the voluminous
files that had accumulated and been passed from one Treasurer to another since the
Society’s creation. Shortly thereafter, the Constitution and By-Laws Committee met
at the new office to prepare revisions to the constitution that would permit the establishment
of the National Office and the hiring of an Executive Officer. On May 1, 1979, a contract
was signed making Emma Shelton the first Executive Officer for the new National Office.
With the opening of the National Office, other changes took place that while less
dramatic were nonetheless significant in indicating that the young society had come
of age. In an effort to make the Society more responsive to the needs of the membership
and to make the new office a kind of clearinghouse for information, the new Executive
Officer began the publication of a regular Newsletter. The first ASCB Newsletter appeared
in March 1979, and continues to the present. In addition, Keith Porter instituted
several changes. First, he asked the National Office to purchase a gavel to be used
as a symbol of the Office of President, and, then, at the Annual Meeting in Toronto
in 1979, instituted a formal procedure for passing responsibility from one president
to the next. He also felt the Society needed a logo to represent itself and in the
fall of 1979 showed some pictures of cells to Mark Swisher who subsequently drew the
design that was later accepted as the Society’s logo. In 1980 the E.B. Wilson Award
was established through the work of Keith Porter who arranged for the design of the
medal. The E.B. Wilson Medal has been awarded each year to an outstanding cell biologist
for scientific achievement ever since. This was not the only award to be established
in the years following the opening of the central office. In 1982 Lewis G. Tilney
became the first awardee of the new Keith Porter Endowment Fund. This fund, named
in honor of Keith R. Porter, supports the lecture given every year by an eminent cell
biologist at the Annual Meeting.
ASCB had long been concerned with the issue of inclusiveness and the role and presence
of minorities and women in the Society, and by the early 1980’s, an ad hoc minorities
group was formed. This group held a breakfast and discussion meeting each year during
Annual Meeting. Society presidents supported these efforts with small discretionary
grants to support minority travel. Shortly thereafter, a NIH/Minorities Access to
Research Careers (MARC) grant was received that would support the funding of minority
travel and participation in the Society’s Annual Meeting. This grant was administered
through the Society office and was to have a duration of ten years but has been renewed
by the NIH/MARC program under the present administration. These efforts led to the
establishment of the original minority group and thereafter to the Minorities Affairs
Committee. The first chairman of the Minorities Affairs Committee, Dr. George M. Langford,
was elected in 1985. Similarly the Minorities Affaires Committee, the Women in Cell
Biology Committee began as an informal group and operated for a number of years as
an ad hoc committee, publishing its own newsletter beginning in 1974. It ultimately
achieved full committee status in 1993.
In 1986 the Executive Committee began a discussion about the possibility of sponsoring
a second journal whose focus would be cell regulation. It was felt that this was a
growing area and that a journal dedicated to cell regulation would be of benefit.
At the Council Meeting on April 17, 1987 a motion was passed to authorize a committee
to take steps to investigate the financial and scientific aspects of starting the
new journal and to approve a tentative editorial board. In November 1987 the Council
approved, in principle, the publication of the new journal. By the end of 1988 an
Editor- in - Chief had been hired and the first issue of Cell Regulation appeared
in November of 1989.
On December 20, 1982 Richard Young, Executive Officer of the Society, initiated a
move to collect and organize the records of the Society. The Society was now twenty
years old and he had found that there was a very poor record of the Society’s history.
He hoped to remedy the situation by retrieving any records still in the hands of former
officers. This was the beginning of a long process toward the creation of an archive.
The first formal steps were taken at the 1986 business meeting when the membership
passed a motion to create an archive for the Society. At the Council meeting in the
spring of 1987, Robert Trelstad was appointed to chair a committee to carry out this
task. At the Council Meeting in November 1992 an Archive Project Proposal was put
forward. The intent was to create a formal archive, and since it was noted that the
amount of work necessary to develop and maintain it might be too much for the National
Office and Council, it was agreed that a depository organization should be sought.
At the December 1994 Council Meeting the council approved the donation of the ASCB
archives to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where it now resides.
Organized into five series: Series I. National Office, 1959-1995. Series II. Meetings,
1960-1994. Series III. Publications, 1961-1995. Series IV. Public Affairs, 1970-1994.
Series V. Committees, 1974-1994.
Series I. National Office
Series II. Meetings
Series III. Publications
Series IV. Public Affairs
Series V. Committees
This collection of records of the ASCB documents the origins of the Society, its significant
growth in membership and standing committees, the opening of its National Office and
its work in promoting both education and research in the field of cell biology. These
records have been arranged into five primary series that reflect the committee organization
set forth in the ASCB management packet. Each of the series: National Office, Meetings,
Publications, Public Affairs, and Committees contain the documents of committees and
individuals responsible for the workings of a particular area of ASCB activity.
The first series, National Office, contains the records of the Executive Committee,
Council, and Finance Committee pertaining to the bureaucratic and fiscal management
of the Society including membership dues, subscriptions, and the placement service.
It contains correspondence, minutes, agendas, reports, rosters, bylaws and constitutions,
resumes, accounts and ledgers, invoices and receipts, and other administrative files.
There are correspondence files of the President, Secretary, Treasurer and Executive
Officer as well as the Committees Coordinator from as early as 1959 and continuing
up to early 1995. The correspondence covers nearly all aspects of the Society’s activities,
from NIH grant proposals and the proposed merger between ASCB and the Society for
Developmental Biology (SDB) to the arrangements for the business office and the hiring
of the Executive Officer. Of particular interest are letters outlining the activities
that led to the founding of ASCB. Some of these documents are among the correspondence
of the Executive Officer, Richard Young, which were collected when he began the movement
to create an archive for the Society. The others are found in the correspondence files
of the President. There is a nearly complete run of minutes for both annual and interim
council meetings as well as Executive Committee meetings and a partial run of minutes
for the business meetings. While less extensive than those for later years, the minutes
of the early years present a clear picture of the birth and growth of the new society.
Documents relating to the nomination and election of officers and the creation and
emendation of the constitution and bylaws are numerous. They include correspondence,
notes, nomination forms, resumes, rosters, and ballots. Of particular interest is
the mass of correspondence surrounding a change made to the bylaws in 1978 in response
to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The decision not to hold meetings in states that
did not ratify the ERA provoked a flurry of letter writing both for and against the
This series also contains a substantial amount of material relating to the management
of the organization and the running of the National office. Reports from both the
offices of the Secretary and Treasurer are present as well as those of the Finance
Committee that provide information about the responsibilities and functions of these
officers and the workings of this Committee in managing the growing society. The Secretary’s
reports contain mailings to the general membership concerning a variety of Society
activities including information on the nomination and election of officers and the
council, announcements, surveys and questionnaires.
Reports from the Treasurer’s office contain the budgets, financial statements and
annual reports done by independent auditors that outline the workings and fiscal standing
of the Society while reports of the Finance Committee provide a look into the decision
making process. Accounting files, invoices and receipts, bank records, ledgers, time
sheets and tax forms document the day to day operations involved in running the national
office and managing the financial aspects of society activities particularly those
of meetings and membership.
Membership records comprise a significant proportion of the documents in this series;
since the tracking of membership applications, dues and subscriptions is one of the
primary functions of the National Office. Membership files include member application
forms beginning with the very first year of operation. These include correspondence,
letters of recommendation, resumes, transcripts, and article offprints. In addition,
there are questionnaires and surveys sent to members, correspondence, invoices and
receipts relating to dues and subscriptions and printed member directories.
A significant number of records in this series are administrative files pertaining
to variety of society activities and initiatives, directed by the National Office,
executive officers and council. Correspondence, surveys, reports and memos tracking
the initiative to merge the SDB and ASCB are present, as are the files of the Committee
to Consider Joining FASEB. Additionally there are the documents recording the selection
and deliberations of the Awards Committee and the records that detail the work of
the Placement Service.
The second series, Meetings, contains the records of the Annual Meeting, regional
meetings, conferences of the ASCB plus records from gatherings cosponsored with other
professional societies. These files contain the documents of the Program Committee,
the Local Arrangements Committee, the Conference Committee and the Exhibits Advisory
Committee. Correspondence, memos, budgets, schedules, floor plans, contracts, program
drafts, brochures and other documents outline the planning and preparation involved
in running a major scientific meeting. Canceling a scientific meeting can be equally
difficult, as is exhibited in the files for the 1986 Annual Meeting. The meeting was
to have been in Denver, but was cancelled and rescheduled for Washington D.C. The
voluminous records created by the negotiations and litigation that followed the cancellation
of the meeting are noteworthy. Also included are the final printed programs for the
Annual Meeting each year as well as some for regional meetings and conferences. In
some instances there are abstract packets and announcements for these meetings.
The documents in the series Publications relate to the production and tracking of
Society publications and include the files of the Publications Committee and the Editorial
Policy Committee. While not extensive, the minutes, agendas, reports, correspondence,
invoices and brochures do provide information on the work involved in the production
of the Society’s publications. These are the Journal of Cell Regulation and A Guide
to Opportunities in Cell Biology that the society publishes and the Journal of Cell
Biology that is produced in conjunction with Rockefeller University Press.
Like Publications, the series Public Policy has a limited number of records but those
that are available are significant because they provide a look into an important aspect
of ASCB activities. Files include those of the Legislative Oversight Committee, the
Public Affairs Committee, the Public Information Committee, and the Public Policy
Committee. Included with the minutes, agendas, correspondence, memos and reports are
copies of House of Representative Bills being tracked by the Society.
The final series, Committees, includes the files of the Education Committee, the Minorities
Affairs Committee and the Women in Cell Biology Committee. The records of Education
Committee contain the agendas, minutes, reports, and correspondence of the Education
Committee as well as large number of documents related specifically to the preparation
and organization of conferences and workshops sponsored by the committee. These files
include program drafts, schedules, brochures, and abstracts along with documents pertaining
to the travel grants given by the committee for student travel to ASCB meetings, conferences
and workshops. As with the Education Committee, the Minorities Affairs Committee files
contain records related to ‘sponsored’ programs and travel grants awarded. In addition,
there are grant proposals and other documents pertaining to the NIH-MARC grant that
provided funding for minority travel and for awards for summer study at the Marine
Biological Laboratories at Woods Hole. The files of the committee, Women in Cell Biology,
contains the minutes, correspondence memos, and reports of the committee along with
awards files, a questionnaire and a newsletter, published 1974 – 1981 before the group
had committee standing.
SARCV 1995-01, SARCV 1998-08, SARCV 1998-09, SARCV 1999-03, SARCV 2000-01, SARCV 2000-02,
SARCV 2000-10, SARCV 2000-14, SARCV 2001-02, SARCV 2002-01, SARCV 2003-05, SARCV 2007-02,
SARCV 2008-03, SARCV 2012-02; the first accession was donated by the American Society
for Cell Biology on March 30, 1995, with subsequent accessions donated in 1998 to
Currently, only the SARCV 1995-01 accession has been processed. This collection was
processed under the supervision of Marcia Frank Peri and completed in April 2000.
The accession of the records of ASCB arrived in 85 boxes and 3 steamer trunks. While
the records from later years were in reasonably good order, those for the period prior
to the establishment of the National Office were extremely disordered. This was not
surprising, because records from the early years were passed from officer to officer
and from place to place. It was therefore determined that the organization of these
records would follow from the order discernable in the later materials and along the
lines of the committees structure set out in the ASCB management packet. This arrangement
left the bulk of the disordered materials in one series, National Office. These documents
were then arranged by activity. Thus, correspondence for all officers were kept together,
as were reports, minutes, accounts, awards, nominations and so forth. When necessary
this subseries was further subdivided by subject or date. For example, in the case
of the correspondence it was necessary to further organize the documents by officer.
Multiple copies have been disposed whenever there were more than two copies of a given
document as have old checks and checkbooks.
Related Materials: Records of the Society for Developmental Biology, the American
Society for Microbiology, the American Association of Immunologists, the American
Type Culture Collection, and the International Union of Immunological Societies, American
Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology.
Describing Archives: a Content Standard (DACS)
Archives Processing Manual: Description (2015): The processing manual used in Special Collections for all descriptive platforms, including
Finding aid available.
Finding Aid: http://library.umbc.edu/speccoll/findingaids/coll008.php
Reproductions allowed for research purposes. Copyright maintained by the creator.
American Society for Cell Biology
Porter, Keith R.
American Society for Cell Biology -- Archives
Society for Developmental Biology
Cellular control mechanisms
Cytology -- Societies, etc.
Women scientists -- United States
Date: 1959-1995; bulk 1961-1993
Extent: 35 boxes (39 linear feet)
Records of the Executive Committee, Council, and Finance Committee pertaining to
the physical and fiscal management of the National Office and Society activities including
dues, subscriptions, and placement service, arranged into 22 sub-series by activity.
Date: 1960-1995; bulk 1970-1990
Extent: 8.25 boxes (10 linear feet)
Correspondence files arranged into 5 sub-series by title; Executive Officer, President,
Secretary, Treasurer, and Committees Coordinator. General correspondence is in date
order followed by subject files arranged in alphabetical order.
Date: 1960-1992; bulk 1965-1990
Extent: 1.5 boxes (2.25 linear feet)
Committee reports and official mailings along with budgets, audits, and financial
statements are organized into 3 sub-series; Finance Committee, Secretary, and Treasurer,
then further arranged in alphabetical order by type of report, and then in date order.
Date: 1974-1995; bulk 1981-1994
Extent: .75 boxes (1 linear feet)
Council meeting agendas and related materials arranged in date order.
Extent: 3 boxes (3.25 linear feet)
Meeting minutes organized into 3 sub-series; Council Meetings, Executive Committee
Meetings, and Business Meetings, and then in date order.
Extent: .25 boxes (.25 linear feet)
Copies of the original Articles of Incorporation and related materials.
Date: 1961-1993; bulk 1972-1987
Working drafts, correspondence, notes, clippings & contracts, pertaining to the
Constitution, the By-laws, and Society status. Arranged in date order.
Date: 1961-1982; bulk 1968-1980
Extent: 1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Correspondence, receipts and statements relating to income and expenses arranged
in alphabetical order by subject and then in date order.
Date: 1961-1983; bulk 1962-1974
Bank books, statements and correspondence in date order.
Date: 1965-1985; bulk 1969-1975
Extent: .5 boxes (.75 linear feet)
Files arranged in alphabetical order by subject and then in date order.
Rosters of officers and committee members in date order.
Files of instructions and procedures arranged by topic in alphabetical order.
IRS and State forms in date order.
Time sheets for office staff in date order.
Extent: .25 boxes (.5 linear feet)
General ledgers in date order.
Date: 1980-1992; 1983-1990 bulk
Extent: 1.5 boxes (1.75 linear feet)
Nomination forms, correspondence, resumes, and supporting materials arranged by
award or committee name and then in date order. Files are further subdivided by subject
Correspondence, notes, proposals, ballots, and legal documents arranged in alphabetical
order by subject.
Date: 1969-1993; bulk 1977-1986
Correspondence, reports, abstract forms, proposals, lease and newsletters arranged
in alphabetical order by subject.
Date: 1967-1990; bulk 1973-1989
Brochures, bulletins, advertisements, correspondence, memos, forms, reports, schedules,
receipts and site plans arranged in alphabetical order by subject and subsequently
in date order.
Date: 1962-1992; bulk 1973-1992
Extent: 1 box (1.25 linear feet)
Biographical notes, resumes, nomination forms, correspondence, memos, ballots and
rosters organized into 3 sub-subseries; Elections, Nominating Committee, and Rosters
and subsequently arranged in date order.
Date: 1960-1995; bulk 1965-1983
Extent: 10.25 boxes (12.75 linear feet)
Application forms, resumes, correspondence, memos, notes, drafts, invoices, receipts,
rosters, ledgers, and computer printouts are organized into 9 sub-subseries: applications,
Correspondence, Directories, Dues & Subscriptions, Members, Membership Committee,
Surveys & Questionnaires, Member List/Computer Printout, Ledgers. Application files
are in date order by year and then in alphabetical order by name. Correspondence is
divided into two groups; general correspondence arranged in date order and subject
files in alphabetical order. Directories, Dues & Subscriptions, and Members are arranged
in alphabetical order by subject and then in date order. The subseries Membership
Committee, Surveys & Questionnaires, Member List/Computer Print Out, and Ledgers are
arranged in date order by year.
Date: 1982-1990, undated
Extent: 1 box (1 linear foot)
One photo album, miscellaneous photographs, slides, and snapshots many undated;
some with identifications.
Date: 1990, 1992, undated
Date: 1960-1994; bulk 1975-1993
Extent: 19 boxes (24.5 linear feet)
Files relating to the physical and fiscal management of the Annual Meeting, regional
meetings, and conferences. Includes records of interactions with the Program Committee,
the Local Arrangements Committee, Conference Committee, and Exhibits Advisory Committee.
Includes materials on the tracking of abstracts, and the production of programs and
abstract issues. Files are organized into 7 subseries: Annual Meetings, Regional Meetings,
Summer Research Conference, ASCB/European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Meetings,
ASCB/American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Meetings, International
Congress of Cell Biology (ICCB) Meetings, ASCB/American Association of Immunologists
(AAI) Meetings, Programs, and Announcements.
Date: 1960-1993; bulk 1977-1992
Extent: 10.5 boxes (14.5 linear feet)
Correspondence, memos, notes, reports, brochures, floor plans, invoices, receipts,
forms, schedules, agendas, program drafts, abstracts, contracts, rosters, announcements,
and case files pertaining to the planning, arrangements and activities of the Annual
Meeting organized by date of meeting and then arranged by subject in alphabetical
Extent: 1 box (.5 linear feet)
Abstracts, surveys/questionnaires, invoices, receipts, program drafts, correspondence,
memos, and notes arranged in alphabetical order by subject.
Date: 1984-1992; bulk 1986-1992
Extent: 2 boxes (3.5 linear feet)
Correspondence, forms, applications, resumes, abstracts, proof sheets, drafts,
questionnaires, schedules, agendas, reports, proposals, invoices, contracts, floor
plans, and photos organized by year of meeting and then in alphabetical order by subject.
Date: 1987-1991; bulk 1988-1991
Extent: 2 boxes (1.75 linear feet)
Correspondence, rosters, budgets, brochures, maps, notes, reports, schedules, applications,
and abstracts arranged by year of meeting and then in alphabetical order by subject.
Extent: 2 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Correspondence, reports, notes, schedules, contracts, brochures, invoices, floor
plans, abstracts, and rosters arranged in alphabetical order by subject.
Extent: 1 box (1 linear feet)
Applications, abstracts, resumes, reports, correspondence, and grant proposals
organized by year of meeting and then alphabetically by subject. For first ICCB meeting
see 1976 annual meeting.
Correspondence, reports, floor plans, and schedules arranged by subject.
Extent: 1.25 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Printed meeting programs arranged by meeting title and then in date order.
Extent: .25 box (.25 linear feet)
Printed announcements, calls for abstracts, & calls for papers arranged by meeting
title and then in date order.
Date: 1961-1995; bulk 1969-1992
Extent: 5.25 boxes (5.75 linear feet)
Records related production and tracking of Society publications including the workings
of the Publication Committee organized into 9 subseries: Book Orders, Editorial policy
Committee, Invoices/Newsletter, Publications Committee, A guide to Opportunities in
Cell Biology, Journal of Cell Regulation, Rockefeller University Press, News Releases,
and Printed Matter.
Extent: 1 folder
ASCB/EMBO Joint Conference 1990
Extent: 1 folders
Correspondence and reports in date order.
Invoices in date order.
Extent: 30 folders (.75 linear feet)
Minutes, agendas, reports, correspondence, surveys, and notes organized by year
and then in alphabetical order by subject.
Extent: .25 box (.5 linear feet)
Drafts, correspondence and printed booklets in date order
Minutes, agendas, reports and correspondence arranged in alphbetical order by subject
Notes, budgets, agendas, reports, correspondence, brochures and surveys arranged
in alphabetical order by subject and then in date order.
Invoices, memos, correspondence, and notes in date order.
Extent: 8 boxes (3.75 linear feet)
Journals, abstracts, and newsletters arranged by title and date.
Extent: 1 box (.75 linear feet)
Minutes, agendas, reports, correspondence, budgets, proposals, news releases, and
copies of HR bills pertaining to the committees responsible for monitoring legislative
and regulatory activities. Documents are arranged in alphabetical order by committee
and subsequently in date order.
Correspondence, minutes, reports and agendas in date order.
Extent: 10 boxes (12.75 linear feet)
Records of additional society committees arranged into three subseries by committee
title: Education Committee, Minorities Affaires Committee, and Women in Cell Biology.
Extent: 5 boxes (6.75 linear feet)
Applications, resumes, correspondence, memos, notes, abstracts, minutes, agendas,
reports, rosters, program drafts, directories, brochures, announcements, clippings,
and proposals detailing the activities of the Education committee. Files are organized
by year and then in alphabetical order by subject.