May 3, 1931

Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics

Minutes of Meeting

The Board met at luncheon at the Cosmos Club, Washington D.C. at one p.m., May 1931, pursuant to call of the Chairman.

This was the first meeting of the Governing Board. The Board began its organization by electing K. T. Compton chairman and G. B. Pegram secretary.

The Secretary reported that following the meeting of the Joint Committee on a proposed American Institute of Physics which was held in New York on February 27, 1931, the four cooperating societies had through the action of council or executive committees, and in accordance with the minutes of that meeting of the Joint Committee, approved in principle the proposals of the Committee and had designated the following members of the Governing Board of the Institute to serve until June 1, 1931:

The American Physical Society: K.T. Compton, J.T. Tate and G. B. Pegram;

The Optical Society of America: L.A. Jones, F.K. Richtmyer and P.D. Foote;

The Acoustical Society of America: Harvey Fletcher, H.D. Arnold and F.A. Saunders; and

The Society of Rheology: W.P. Davey, E.C. Bingham and A. Stuart Hunter.

These members of the Governing Board were present except Messrs. Jones, Arnold, Saunders and Hunter. By request Mr. L.B. Tuckerman, secretary of the Optical Society of America, attended in the absence of Mr. Jones; Professor D.C. Miller in the absence of Mr. Arnold; and Mr. Melvin Mooney in the absence of Mr. Hunter.

Membership of Board

It was on motion voted that the Board should consider that its membership as designated until June 1, 1931 continues until December 31, 1931 or until the cooperating societies take other action.

Executive Committee

On motion the executive committee of the Governing Board was constituted to serve until December 31, 1931 consisting of the Chairman and the Secretary of the Board, ex-officio, and three other members to be appointed by the Chairman. The chair appointed as these members L.A. Jones, Harvey Fletcher and W.P. Davey.

Terms of Future Board Members

On motion it was voted that it be recommended to the cooperating societies that three members from each society be appointed to serve on the Governing Board, one for a term of one year, one for a term of two years and one for a term of three years from January 1, 1932 and that thereafter each appointment be made for a term of three years with the proviso that for the present members should not be ineligible for reappointment.

Conference with the Chemical Foundation

The Chairman reported that at the conference which he had been directed to have with the Chemical Foundation the President of the Chemical Foundation, Mr. Garvan, was away from the city and could not be seen. The conference was held with Mr. William Buffum, Manager and Treasurer of the Chemical Foundation, with Mr. L.A. Jones, Mr. Harvey Fletcher and Mr. G.B. Pegram accompanying the Chairman. At this conference assurance was received from Mr. Buffum that the Chemical Foundation desired to give its support financially and otherwise to the Institute of Physics in working toward its objectives. Mr. Buffum suggested that the first step to make the Institute effective would be the appointment by the Institute of an executive secretary whose salary would have to be provided by the Foundation. The desirable qualifications of such a secretary were discussed. Mr. Buffum stressed the advantages of a young man for this work. The opportunities in publication, in publicity and in organizing the men who are working in or are interested in physics in this country were discussed at considerable length in this conference. 


The Board then proceeded to a discussion of some of the functions of the Institute. On motion it was voted that the Board would look with favor upon the operation by the Institute of a placement bureau for physicists.

Some of the suggestions that were made with respect to the publications were the following:

By Mr. Davey: that the Institute should try to arrange a common preprinting of abstracts of papers for the meetings of all the societies;

By Mr. Foote: that one publication be designed and operated in such a way as to reach a wide audience of men working in physics and to give them easily readable news of all kinds relating to physics;

By Mr. Compton: that some form of membership in the Institute be designed through which members should receive such a publication as referred to by Mr. Foote and would also be able to subscribe at reduced rates to the publications of the several societies;

By Mr. Bingham: reference to the desirability of doing something as soon as possible for a better abstracts journal in physics.

Abstracts Journal

On motion it was voted that this question of an abstracts journal should receive the earliest consideration by the executive secretary when appointed and by the Board.

Affiliation with other societies

On motion it was voted that the subject of affiliation of the Institute with other societies than the cooperating societies be referred to the executive committee for consideration.

Appointment of Executive Secretary

On motion it was voted that the executive committee should be charged with the selection and appointment of the executive secretary.

General discussion was then had as to the desirable qualifications of an executive secretary and as to suitable candidates. Mr. Richtmyer spoke of certain advantages that would come from having a man of wide experience serve as executive secretary even if only for a period of a year. A letter from Mr. H.D. Arnold was read which set forth the desirability if it were possible of having one man of considerable age and distinction who could give at least part of his time to the Institute and in addition a younger man on full time to attend to details and routine work.

The following were proposed by members of the Board as men who ought to be considered in making the selection of the executive secretary. It was agreed that the proposers of these men would furnish detailed information about them to the secretary for the information of the executive committee.

  • Henry A. Barton, Associate Professor, Cornell University
  • Fay Cluff Brown, Director, Museum of Science and Industry
  • Stanislas Chylinski, Ryerson Physical Laboratory, University of Chicago
  • Homer L. Dodge, Dean, Graduate School, University of Oklahoma
  • J.C. Morris Jr., Assistant Professor, Princeton University
  • A. Ray Olpin, engaged in research on photoelectric cells, Bell Telephone Laboratories Inc.
  • Fredrick A. Steele, New Jersey Zinc Company


Others whose names had been suggested in letters in response to a request for suggestions were:

  • Henry E. Farrer
  • Gordon S. Fulcher
  • Harvey B. Lemon
  • M.B. Long
  • F.K. Richtmyer
  • John T. Tate


The committee adjourned about 3:30 p.m.