|Formation||May 4, 1780|
|Type||Honorary society and independent research center|
|Headquarters||Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|5,700+ active members|
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S) is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. It was founded in 1780 during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin,Andrew Oliver, and other founding fathers of the United States. It is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Membership in the academy is achieved through a thorough petition, review, and election process.The academy's quarterly journal, Dædalus , is published by the MIT Press on behalf of the academy. The academy also conducts multidisciplinary public policy research.
The Academy was established by the Massachusetts legislature on May 4, 1780, charted in order "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people."The sixty-two incorporating fellows represented varying interests and high standing in the political, professional, and commercial sectors of the state. The first class of new members, chosen by the Academy in 1781, included Benjamin Franklin and George Washington as well as several international honorary members. The initial volume of Academy Memoirs appeared in 1785, and the Proceedings followed in 1846. In the 1950s, the Academy launched its journal Daedalus, reflecting its commitment to a broader intellectual and socially-oriented program.
Since the second half of the twentieth century, independent research has become a central focus of the Academy. In the late 1950s, arms control emerged as one of its signature concerns. The Academy also served as the catalyst in establishing the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. In the late 1990s, the Academy developed a new strategic plan, focusing on four major areas: science, technology, and global security; social policy and education; humanities and culture; and education. In 2002, the Academy established a visiting scholars program in association with Harvard University. More than 75 academic institutions from across the country have become Affiliates of the Academy to support this program and other Academy initiatives.
The Academy has sponsored a number of awards and prizes,throughout its history and has offered opportunities for fellowships and visiting scholars at the Academy.
In July 2013, the Boston Globe exposed then president Leslie Berlowitz for falsifying her credentials, faking a doctorate, and consistently mistreating her staff.Berlowitz subsequently resigned.
A project of the Academy that equips researchers, policymakers, universities, foundations, museums, libraries, humanities councils, and other public institutions with statistical tools for answering basic questions about primary and secondary humanities education, undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities, the humanities workforce, levels and sources of program funding, public understanding and impact of the humanities, and other areas of concern in the humanities community.It is modeled on the Science and Engineering Indicators, published biennially by the National Science Board as required by Congress.
Charter members of the Academy were John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Bacon, James Bowdoin, Charles Chauncy, John Clarke, David Cobb, Samuel Cooper, Nathan Cushing, Thomas Cushing, William Cushing, Tristram Dalton, Francis Dana, Samuel Deane, Perez Fobes, Caleb Gannett, Henry Gardner, Benjamin Guild, John Hancock, Joseph Hawley, Edward Augustus Holyoke, Ebenezer Hunt, Jonathan Jackson, Charles Jarvis, Samuel Langdon, Levi Lincoln, Daniel Little, Elijah Lothrup, John Lowell, Samuel Mather, Samuel Moody, Andrew Oliver, Joseph Orne, Theodore Parsons, George Partridge, Robert Treat Paine, Phillips Payson, Samuel Phillips, John Pickering, Oliver Prescott, Zedekiah Sanger, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, Micajah Sawyer, Theodore Sedgwick, William Sever, David Sewall, Stephen Sewall, John Sprague, Ebenezer Storer, Caleb Strong, James Sullivan, John Bernard Sweat, Nathaniel Tracy, Cotton Tufts, James Warren, Samuel West, Edward Wigglesworth, Joseph Willard, Abraham Williams, Nehemiah Williams, Samuel Williams, and James Winthrop.
From the beginning, the membership, nominated and elected by peers, has included not only scientists and scholars, but also writers and artists as well as representatives from the full range of professions and public life. Throughout the Academy's history, 10,000 fellows have been elected, including such notables as John Adams, John James Audubon, Sissela Bok, Willa Cather, T. S. Eliot, Duke Ellington, Josiah Willard Gibbs, Joseph Henry, Washington Irving, Thomas Jefferson, Edward R. Murrow, Martha Nussbaum, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Jonas Salk and Eudora Welty.
International honorary members have included Jose Antonio Pantoja Hernandez, Albert Einstein,Leonhard Euler, Marquis de Lafayette, Alexander von Humboldt, Leopold von Ranke, Charles Darwin, Otto Hahn, Jawaharlal Nehru, Pablo Picasso, Liu Guosong, Lucian Michael Freud, Luis Buñuel, Galina Ulanova, Werner Heisenberg, Alec Guinness, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Menahem Yaari, Yitzhak Apeloig, Zvi Galil, Haim Harari, and Sebastião Salgado.
Astronomer Maria Mitchell was the first woman elected to the Academy, in 1848.
The current membership encompasses over 5,700 members based across the United States and around the world. Academy members include more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Of the Academy's 14,343 members since 1780, 1,406 are or have been affiliated with Harvard University, 611 with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 433 with Yale University, 425 with the University of California, Berkeley, and 404 with Stanford University. The following table includes those institutions affiliated with 300 or more members.
† Excludes members affiliated exclusively with associated national laboratories.
As of 2023, membership is divided into five classes and thirty specialties.
Class I – Mathematical and physical sciences
Class II – Biological sciences
Class III – Social and behavioral sciences
Class IV – Arts and humanities
Class V – Public affairs, business, and administration
Robert Treat Paine was a lawyer, politician and Founding Father of the United States who signed the Continental Association and Declaration of Independence as a representative of Massachusetts. He served as the state's first attorney general and as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state's highest court.
Nathaniel Bowditch was an early American mathematician remembered for his work on ocean navigation. He is often credited as the founder of modern maritime navigation; his book The New American Practical Navigator, first published in 1802, is still carried on board every commissioned U.S. Naval vessel. In 2001, an elementary and middle school in Salem was named in his honor.
James Bowdoin II was an American political and intellectual leader from Boston, Massachusetts, during the American Revolution and the following decade. He initially gained fame and influence as a wealthy merchant. He served in both branches of the Massachusetts General Court from the 1750s to the 1770s. Although he was initially supportive of the royal governors, he opposed British colonial policy and eventually became an influential advocate of independence. He authored a highly political report on the 1770 Boston Massacre that has been described by historian Francis Walett as one of the most influential pieces of writing that shaped public opinion in the colonies.
Robert Charles Winthrop was an American lawyer, philanthropist, and Whig Party politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House and Senate from 1840 to 1851. He served as the 18th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and was a political ally and colleague of Daniel Webster. After a rapid rise in Massachusetts and national politics and one term as speaker, Winthrop succeeded Webster in the Senate. His re-election campaign resulted in a long, sharply contested defeat by Charles Sumner. He ran for Governor of Massachusetts in 1851 but lost due to the state's majority requirement, marking the end of his political career and signaling the decline of the Massachusetts Whig Party.
The Boston Brahmins or Boston elite are members of Boston's traditional upper class. They are often associated with a cultivated New England or Mid-Atlantic dialect and accent, Harvard University, Anglicanism, and traditional British American customs and clothing. Descendants of the earliest English colonists are typically considered to be the most representative of the Boston Brahmins. They are considered White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs).
Thomas Cushing III was an American lawyer, merchant, and statesman from Boston, Massachusetts. Active in Boston politics, he represented the city in the provincial assembly from 1761 to its dissolution in 1774, serving as the lower house's speaker for most of those years. Because of his role as speaker, his signature was affixed to many documents protesting British policies, leading officials in London to consider him a dangerous radical. He engaged in extended communications with Benjamin Franklin who at times lobbied on behalf of the legislature's interests in London, seeking ways to reduce the rising tensions of the American Revolution.
Lawrence Academy at Groton is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational college preparatory boarding school located in Groton, Massachusetts, in the United States. Founded in 1792 by a group of fifty residents of Groton and Pepperell, Massachusetts as Groton Academy, and chartered in 1793 by Governor John Hancock, Lawrence is the tenth oldest boarding school in the United States, and the third in Massachusetts, following Governor Dummer Academy (1763) and Phillips Academy at Andover (1778). The phrase on Lawrence Academy's seal is "Omnibus Lucet": in Latin, "Let light shine upon all."
Theodore Lyman III was a natural scientist, military staff officer during the American Civil War, and United States Representative from Massachusetts.
Thomas Lindall Winthrop was a Massachusetts politician who served as the 13th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1826 to 1833. He was elected both a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1813 and a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1837.
Henry Pickering Bowditch was an American soldier, physician, physiologist, and dean of the Harvard Medical School. Following his teacher Carl Ludwig, he promoted the training of medical practitioners in a context of physiological research. His teaching career at Harvard spanned 35 years.
Samuel Atkins Eliot was a member of the notable Eliot family of Boston, Massachusetts, who served in political positions at the local, state and national levels.
The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) is the oldest psychical research organization in the United States dedicated to parapsychology. It maintains offices and a library, in New York City, which are open to both members and the general public. The society has an open membership, anyone with an interest in psychical research is invited to join. It maintains a website; and publishes the quarterly Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.
The Boston Board of Selectmen was the governing board for the town of Boston from the 17th century until 1822. Selectmen were elected to six-month terms early in the history of the board, but later were elected to one-year terms.
The East India Marine Society of Salem, Massachusetts, United States, was "composed of persons who have actually navigated the seas beyond the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn, as masters or supercargoes of vessels belonging to Salem." It functioned as a charitable and educational organization, and maintained a library and museum. It flourished especially in the 1800s–1830s, a heyday of foreign trade.
The Boston Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in Boston, Massachusetts, was founded "to promote and direct popular education by lectures and other means." Modelled after the recently formed Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in London, the Boston group's officers included Daniel Webster, Nathan Hale, Jacob Bigelow, William Ellery Channing, Edward Everett, Nathaniel L. Frothingham, and Abbott Lawrence. The society published the American Library of Useful Knowledge, a series of scholarly works by British and American authors. Public lectures on a variety of topics were held at Boston's Masonic Temple, and other venues.
Leslie Cohen Berlowitz was president and chief executive officer of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berlowitz became the academy's executive officer in 1996 and was later promoted to chief executive officer and President. From 1969 to 1996, Berlowitz was an administrator at New York University. In 2013 the Boston Globe pointed to a falsification of her degree on Academy grant applications and that her Academy salary appeared higher than standards at comparable institutions. The Globe also brought her draconian management style into question.
Charles Pickering Bowditch was an American financier, archaeologist, cryptographer and linguistics scholar who specialized in Mayan epigraphy.
Richard Saltonstall Rogers was an early American shipping merchant and was possibly the inspiration for a character in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.
The 61st Massachusetts General Court, consisting of the Massachusetts Senate and the Massachusetts House of Representatives, met in 1840 during the governorship of Marcus Morton. Daniel P. King served as president of the Senate and Robert Charles Winthrop served as speaker of the House.