American Society of Aesthetics records for the Office of Secretary-Treasurer

Summary Information

Repository: Cleveland Museum of Art Archives
Creator: American Society for Aesthetics.
Title: American Society of Aesthetics records for the Office of Secretary-Treasurer.
ID: 1111.039
Date [bulk]: 1955-1971
Date [inclusive]: 1940-1982
Extent: 1.2 Cubic feet  [4 boxes]
Language: English

Preferred Citation note

Archives, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Records of the American Society of Aesthetics: Office of Secretary-Treasurer, Folder [title], date and or short description of document.

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Biographical/Historical note

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,

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.

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Scope and Contents note

The records contained in this collection are the records of the Secretary-Treasurer of the ASA and document the daily administrative and financial business of the ASA and the JAAC. The records date from 1940 to 1982 with the bulk of the records dating between 1955 and 1971. The bulk dates correspond to the Secretary-Treasurer's residence in Cleveland encompassing George Danforth's term and the first twelve years of James R. Johnson's term. Records before 1955 were primarily created by Thomas Munro. Those records created after 1971 are primarily correspondence between Johnson (until 1978) and the incumbent Secretary-Treasurer Arnold Berleant, and JAAC editor John Fisher with Business Manager Howard Finkler.

The ASA records have been arranged in six series: Administrative, Financial, Membership, ASA correspondence, ASA annual meetings, and JAAC records. Within each series the arrangement is mostly chronological.

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Arrangement note

Generally by series, thereunder chronologically.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Ingalls Library and Museum Archives

11150 East Blvd.
Cleveland, OH, 44106

Conditions Governing Access note

Open to the public. For more information or to access this collection contact archives staff at

Processing Information note

Processed by Hillary Bober. Completed November 2003.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

There is also a collection of records of the American Society of Aesthetics located in the Special Collections and University Archives of the Malcolm A. Love Library, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. A finding aid for the collection, "American Society of Aesthetics, 1935-1995" is available at:

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Controlled Access Headings

Personal Name(s)

  • Munro, Thomas, 1897-

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Collection Inventory

Administrative records 

Scope and Contents note

This is a small series consisting of three folders: Constitution and By-laws; Ballots and election results (scattered); and Statement of Continued Existence.


Constitution and By-laws 


Ballots and election results 


Statement of Continued Existence 


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Financial records 

Scope and Contents note

This series documents the duties of the Secretary-Treasurer and the general financial status of ASA. For the period 1953-1979 this documentation is in the form of audited financial statements. Detailed receipt and disbursement ledgers are available for 1958-1972. This series includes correspondence related to financial matters such as investments and annual audits. Also part of the series are scattered trust statements and IRS federal form 990 from scattered years 1948-1973.


Accounting system 


General ledger 


Ledger - General Journal, June 1955 - August 1966 


Ledger - Cash receipts, September 1958 - August 1963 


Ledger - Cash receipts, September 1963 - August 1967 


Ledger - Cash receipts (membership and subscriptions), September 1967 - December 1972 


Ledger - Cash disbursed, September 1958 - August 1963 


Ledger - Cash disbursed, September 1963 - August 1967 


Ledger - Cash disbursed (expenses), September 1967 - December 1972 


Financial Statements - 1953, 1956-1959 


Financial Statements - 1960-1965 


Financial Statements - 1966-1972 


Financial Statements - 1973-1979 


Correspondence (investment, audit, tax matters), 1948-1979 [1963-1968] 


Correspondence and Resolution "Certified Copy of Certain Resolutions Adopted by the Board of Directors Whereby the Establishment and Maintenance of Security Cash Accounts have been Authorized" (1964) 


Trust statements (scattered) 


IRS Federal for 990 (1948-1973, scattered) 


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Scope and Contents note

The Membership series is also small. It consists of sample membership recruitment brochures and letters and typed membership lists for various years. The membership roster was also published in the JAAC. Most routine correspondence regarding membership was weeded during processing and any substantive correspondence regarding membership would be found in the ASA correspondence series.


Membership materials, general 


Roster - 1 November 1942 


Roster additions - 1/1-5/23/1943 


Roster - April 1944 


Roster - 8 December 1951 


Roster - 6 October 1964 


Roster - 1 January 1969 


Roster - 2 October 1969 


Roster - 15 June 1971 


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Correspondence 1943-1981 

Scope and Contents note

The general ASA correspondence is arranged chronologically and includes both incoming and outgoing correspondence. The dates of the correspondence in this series is 1943-1981. This section of correspondence is primarily general administrative information between the Secretary-Treasurer and the other officers, members of the Board of Trustees, and prominent members or past officers. Major correspondents, in addition to Danforth and Johnson, include Thomas Munro, Helmut Hungerland and presidents of the ASA D.W. Gotshalk (1956-1958), Rudolf Arnheim (1958-1960), Van Meter Ames (1960-1962), Holcombe M. Austin (1962-1964), Isabel C. Hungerland (1964-1966), Monroe C. Beardsley (1966-1968), and Douglas N. Morgan (1968-1969). In addition to the folders of general chronological correspondence there are two topical folders. One includes correspondence with the American Council for Learned Societies, of which the ASA was a member. The second folder includes correspondence and ballots regarding the proposed Baxendall Vietnam Resolution (1967-1968).


Correspondence, general - 1943-1945 


Correspondence, general - 1954-1959 


Correspondence, general - 1960-1963 


Correspondence, general - 1964-1966 


Correspondence, general - 1967-1969 


Correspondence, general - 1970-1981 [1970-1971] 


American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), 1949-1960 


Baxandall Vietnam Resolution (proposed), 1967-1968 


Cleveland Society for Aesthetics 


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ASA Annual Meeting 1944-1979  (Bulk, 1954-1969)

Scope and Contents note

Series 5 pertains to the ASA's annual meetings. The ASA sponsored an annual meeting each October held in a different location each year. The records for the annual meetings are arranged chronologically by meeting year. Within the folder for each meeting general information is first, followed by chronologically arranged correspondence regarding the planning of the meetings. The general information may include the invitation to the meeting; travel and hotel information; schedules and a printed program; list of attendees; and agendas and minutes from two Board of Trustees meetings and a membership meeting. The second section of the annual meeting folder is primarily correspondence between the Secretary-Treasurer, the program chair and the local arrangements chair. This correspondence encompasses the planning and logistics of the meeting. There are very few records regarding the topic of the meeting or papers to be presented. There are records of annual meetings for 1944, 1954-69, with minutes only for meetings held 1970-1974, and 1978-1979.


Art Conference - New York, NY and Berkeley, CA, 1940-1941 


Second American Congress for Aesthetics, 1942 


1944 - Cleveland, OH 


1954 - Bloomington, IN 


1955 - Evanston, IL 


1956 - Boston, MA 


1957 - Washington D.C. 


1958 - Berkeley, CA 


1959 - Cincinnati, OH 


1960 - Brooklyn, NY 


1961 - Detroit, MI 


1962 - Boston, MA 


1963 - Columbus, OH 


1964 - Chicago, IL 


1965 - Washington D.C. 


1966 - Santa Fe, NM 


1967 - Princeton, NJ 


1968 - Austin, TX 


1969 - Charlottesville, VA 


1970 - Boulder, CO (minutes only) 


1971 - Los Angeles, CA (minutes only) 


1972 - Sarasota, FL (minutes only) 


1973 - Fairfield, CT (minutes only) 


1974 - Minneapolis, MN (minutes only) 


1977 - Seattle, WA (minutes only) 


1978 - New York, NY (minutes only) 


Summary of meeting expenses - 1967-1967, 1973-1977 


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Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (JAAC) 1955-1978 

Scope and Contents note

Series 6 contains the records of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (JAAC). Though the series is mostly correspondence, there are a few subject folders that discuss copyright, advertising, production schedules, and subscription and advertising rates. The correspondence has been divided into two sections. The first is a chronologically arranged series of JAAC correspondence which is primarily administrative correspondence between the Secretary-Treasurer and the journal editors, Herbert Schueller and Helmut Hungerland. The second arrangement is filed by either by correspondent or by topic. This is a distinction made for the publishers of the journal (Waverly Press for the bulk of the years reflected in the collection) and the journals reprint publisher AMS. Also included in this section are contracts and correspondence regarding the issuance of the JAAC on microform by University Microfilms. The topical correspondence deals with specific publication projects, including the production of two indexes of the journal and translation projects. The correspondence in this section dates between 1955 and 1978.




Production calendar, 1955, 1956 (sample) 


Promotional materials 


Subscription and advertising rates 


Correspondence, general - 1955-1959 


Correspondence, general - 1960-1963 


Correspondence, general - 1964-1968 


Correspondence, general - 1970-1978 [1970-1971] 


Correspondence - AMS Reprint Company, 1962-1968 


Correspondence - Exchange publications (foreign and domestic) 


Correspondence - George Buchanan Co. Printers, 1976 


Correspondence - Index - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Duncan (1964) 


Correspondence - Index - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Aagaard-Mogensen (1975-1978) 


Correspondence - Johnson Associates, Inc. (microfiche), 1972-1978 


Correspondence - University Microfilms, Inc. 


Correspondence - Quarterlies, Inc. (reprints), 1955-1956 


Correspondence - Translations (book): Kainz (1960-1961); Dessior (1967-1970); Suggestions for translation (1968) 


Correspondence - Waverly Press (publishers), 1956-1976 


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Audio Programs 1958 


Thomas Munro. "The American Society for Aesthetics and its Field", 6 November 1958 [reel to reel audio recording] 


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