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1856 AAAS Constitution


The Association shall be called "The American Association for the Advancement of Science." The objects of the Association are, by periodical and migratory meetings, to promote intercourse between those who are cultivating science in different parts of the United States; to give a stronger and more general impulse, and a more systematic direction to scientific research in our country; and to procure for the labours of scientific men, increased facilities and a wider usefulness.


Rule 1. Members of scientific societies, or learned bodies having in view any of the objects of this Association, and publishing transactions, shall be considered members on subscribing to these rules.

Rule 2.Collegiate professors, also civil engineers and architects who have been employed in the construction or superintendence of public works, may become members on subscribing to these rules.

Rule 3. Persons not embraced in the above provisions, may become members of the Association upon recommendation in writing by two members, nomination by the Standing Committee, and election by a majority of the members present.


Rule 4. The officers of the Association shall be a President, Vice-President, General Secretary, Permanent Secretary, and Treasurer. The President, Vice-President, General Secretary and Treasurer, shall be elected at each Annual meeting for the following one; the three first-named officers not to be reeligible as long as the Association may desire. The Permanent Secretary shall be elected at each second meeting, and also be reeligible as long as the Association may desire.


Rule 5. The Association shall meet, at such intervals as it may determine, for one week or longer, the time and place of each meeting being determined by a vote of the Association at the previous meeting; and the arrangements for it shall be entrusted to the officers and the Local Committee.

Standing Committee.

Rule 6. There shall be a Standing Committee, to consist of the President, Vice-President, Secretaries, and Treasurer of the Association, the officers of the preceding year, the permanent chairmen of the Sectional Committees, after these shall have been organized, and six other members present from the Association at large who shall have attended any of the previous meetings, to be elected upon open nomination by ballot on the first assembling of the Association. A majority of the whole number of votes cast to elect. The General Secretary shall be Secretary of the Standing Committee.

The duties of the Standing Committee shall be,

  1. To assign papers to the respective sections.
  2. To arrange the scientific business of the general meetings, to suggest topics and arrange the programmes for the evening meetings.
  3. To suggest to the Association the place and time of the next meeting.
  4. To examine, and, if necessary, to exclude papers.
  5. To suggest to the Association subjects for scientific reports and researches.
  6. To appoint the Local Committee.
  7. To have the general direction of publications.
  8. To manage any other general business of the Association during the session, and during the interval between it and the next meeting.
  9. In conjunction with four from each section, to be elected by the sections for the purpose, to make nominations of officers of the Association for the following meeting.
  10. To nominate persons for admission to membership.
  11. Before adjourning, to decide which papers, discussions, or other proceedings shall be published.


Rule 7. The Association shall be divided into two Sections, and as many sub-Sections as may be necessary for the scientific business, the manner of division to be determined by the Standing Committee of the Association. The two Sections may meet as one.

Sectional Committees and Officers.

Rule 8. On the first assembling of the Section, the members shall elect upon open nomination of a permanent chairman and secretary, also three other members to constitute with these officers a Sectional Committee.

The Section shall appoint, from day to day, a chairman to preside over its meetings.

Rule 9. It shall be the duty of the Sectional Committee of each section, to arrange and direct the proceedings in their Section; to ascertain what communications are offered; to assign the order in which these communications shall appear, and the amount of time which each shall occupy.

The Sectional Committee may likewise recommend subjects for systematic investigation by members willing to undertake the researches, and to present their results at the next meeting.

The Sectional Committee may likewise recommend reports on particular topics and departments of science, to be drawn up as occasion permits, by competent persons, and presented at subsequent meetings.

Reports of Proceedings.

Rule 10. Whenever practicable, the proceedings shall be reported by professional reporters or stenographers, whose reports are to be revised by the secretaries before they appear in print.

Papers and Communications.

Rule 11. No paper shall be placed in the programme, unless admitted by the Sectional Committee; nor shall any be read, unless an abstract of it has been previously presented to the Secretary of the Section, who shall furnish to the chairman the titles of papers of which abstracts have been received.

Rule 12. The author of any paper or communication shall be at liberty to retain his rights of property therein, provided he declare such to be his wish before presenting it to the Association.

Rule 13. Copies of all communications, made either to the General Association or to the Sections, must be furnished by the authors; otherwise only the titles or abstracts shall appear in the published proceedings.

Rule 14. All papers, either at the general or in the Sectional meetings, shall be read, as far as practicable, in the order in which they are entered upon the books of the Association; except that those which may be entered by a member of the Standing Committee of the Association shall be liable to postponement by the proper Sectional Committee.

Rule 15. If any communication be not ready at the assigned time, it shall be dropped to the bottom of the list, and shall not be entitled to take precedence of any subsequent communications.

Rule 16. No exchanges shall be made between members without authority of the respective Sectional Committees.

General and Evening Meetings.

Rule 17. The Standing Committee shall appoint any general meeting which the objects and interests of the Association may call for, and the evenings shall, as a rule, be reserved for general meetings of the Association.

These general meetings may, when convened for that purpose give their attention to any topics of science which would otherwise come before the Sections.

It shall be a part of the business of these general meetings to receive the Address of the President of the last meeting; to hear such reports on scientific subjects as, from their general importance and interests, the Standing Committee shall elect; also to receive from the chairman of the Sections abstracts of the proceedings of their respective Sections; and to listen to communications and lectures explanatory of new and important discoveries and researches in science, and new inventions and processes in the arts.

Order of Proceedings in Organizing a Meeting.

Rule 18. The Association shall be called to order by the President of the preceding meeting, and this officer having resigned the chair to the president elect, the general Secretary shall then report the number of papers relating to each department which have been registered, and the Association consider the most eligible distribution into Sections, when it shall proceed to the election of the additional members of the Standing Committee in the manner before described; the meeting shall then adjourn, and the Standing Committee, having divided the Association into Sections as directed, shall allot to each its place of meeting for the Session. The Sections shall then organize by electing their officers and their representatives in the Nominating Committee and shall proceed to business.

Permanent Secretary

Rule 19. It shall be the duty of the Permanent Secretary to notify members who are in arrears, to provide the necessary stationary and suitable books for the list of members and titles of papers, minutes of the general and sectional meetings, and for other purposes indicated in the rules, and to execute such other duties as may be directed by the Standing Committee or by the Association.

The Permanent Secretary shall make a report annually to the Standing Committee, at its first meeting, to be laid before the Association, of the business of which he has had charge since its last meeting.

All members are particularly desired to forward to the Permanent Secretary, so as to be received before the day appointed for the Association to convene, complete titles of all the papers which they expect to present during its meeting, with an estimate of the time required for reading each, and such abstracts of their contents as may give a general idea of their nature.

Whenever the Permanent Secretary notices any error of fact or unnecessary repetition, or any other important defect in the papers communicated for publication in the proceedings of the Association, he is authorized to commit the same to the author, or to the proper sub-committee of the Standing Committee for correction.

Local Committee.

Rule 20. The Local Committee shall be appointed from among members residing at or near the place of meeting for the ensuing year; and it shall be the duty of the Local Committee, assisted by the officers, to make arrangements and the necessary announcements for the meeting.

The Secretary of the Local Committee shall issue a circular in regard to the time and place of meetings, and other particulars, at least one month before each meeting.


Rule 21. The amount of the subscription, at each meeting, of each member of the Association shall be two dollars, and one dollar in addition shall entitle him to a copy of the proceedings of the annual meeting. These subscriptions shall be received by the Permanent Secretary, who shall pay them over, after the meeting, to the Treasurer.

No person shall be considered a member of the Association until the subscription for the meeting at which he is elected has been paid.

Rule 22. The names of all persons two years in arrears for annual dues shall be erased from the list of members; provided that two notices of indebtedness, at an interval of at least three months, shall have been previously given.


Rule 23. The accounts of the Association shall be audited annually, by auditors appointed at each meeting.

Alterations of the Constitution.

Rule 24. No article of the constitution shall be altered, or amended, or set aside, without the concurrence of three-fourths of the members present, and unless notice of the proposed change shall have been given at the preceding annual meeting.

[Adopted by the AAAS Standing Committee, August 25, 1856, and ordered to go into effect at the opening of the 1857 Montreal Meeting.]