The Cleveland Museum of Art

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Records of the American Society of Aesthetics: Office of Secretary-Treasurer

Background Information

The American Society for Aesthetics (ASA) was formally organized and established at the close of the Second American Congress for Aesthetics, held at Catholic University in Washington D.C., April 23-25, 1942. Thomas Munro, Curator of Education at the Cleveland Museum of Art was elected President. The other officers of the Society were Secretary Ralph B. Winn of Hofstra College and Treasurer Max Schoen of the Carnegie Institute of Technology. The objectives of the ASA were to promote study, research, discussion, and publication in aesthetics. The ASA definition of aesthetics includes "all studies of the arts and related types of experience from a philosophic, scientific, or other theoretical standpoint, including those of psychology, sociology, anthropology, cultural history, art criticism, and education. 'The arts' include the visual arts, literature, music, and theater arts." (American Society of Aesthetics, http://www.aesthetics-online.org/asa/asa-info.php.)

The ASA was incorporated as a corporation not for profit in Cleveland, Ohio at the first national meeting in 1944. The operating structure was formalized in the ASA Constitution as President, Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer and eight trustees. All offices are elected by the membership. The principal office of the ASA was located in Cleveland, Ohio for many years due the involvement of Thomas Munro and two long-term Secretary-Treasurers of the society, George Danforth of Western Reserve University who was Secretary-Treasurer from 1 October 1955 to 15 June 1959; and James Johnson of the Cleveland Museum of Art who was Secretary-Treasurer from 16 June 1959 to June 1978. Johnson left his position at the Cleveland Museum of Art for a position at the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 1972, but the business office of the ASA remained at the Cleveland Museum of Art with Howard Finkler as Business Manager. The Business Office moved from the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1980 to the C.W. Post Center at Long Island University.

In the fall of 1945 the ASA also took over the duty of publishing the Journal of Aesthetics from the Philosophical Library. The quarterly journal was renamed the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (JAAC) and Thomas Munro became the renamed journal's first editor, a position he held until 1962. He remained a contributing editor until his death in 1974. Other JAAC editors represented in this collection include Herbert Schueller, editor from 1963 to 1973 and contributing editor from 1973 to 1976; Helmut Hungerland, review editor from 1945 to 1946, associate editor from 1946 to 1973, and contributing editor from 1973 to 1976; and John Fisher, editor from 1973 to1988.

The ASA holds an annual conference in October of each year. The site varies by year. There are also regional affiliates of the ASA. The activity of the regional groups varies over time and by group.