Home Advocacy Delve Into ASHA’s Past During American Archives Month

Delve Into ASHA’s Past During American Archives Month

by Mona Heath
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Did you know that ASHA has changed its name five times since it formed in 1925?

The organization was originally called the American Academy of Speech Correction. Then, in 1927, the name changed to the American Society for the Study of Disorders of Speech. In 1934, it became the American Speech Correction Association and in 1947, the American Speech and Hearing Association, where our acronym ASHA originated. Finally, in 1978, ASHA took on the current title of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

I’m sharing ASHA’s name timeline because October is recognized as American Archives Month. To celebrate, staff at the national office launched our first archival website featuring an online exhibit about the founding of the association in 1925. On this site you’ll learn about the movers and shakers involved in ASHA’s founding. You’ll discover how a group of committed and energetic young academics broke with the well-established National Association of Teachers of Speech to create their own group for speech correction.

Here are a few other notable facts you can find in this exhibit:

Origin story: Although the association now has a large national office to house its 280-plus employees, the idea for ASHA was conceived in the dining room of one of its founders. Several young academics attending a weekend conference on speech disorders at the University of Iowa in the spring of 1925 were invited to dinner at the home of Dr. Lee E. Travis. By the end of the evening, the conversation centered around the idea of an academy for scholars of speech correction. The following December the dinner-table discussion became a reality.

Famous first: The first doctorate in speech was awarded in 1922 to a woman and founder of ASHA. At the time, women even attending college was uncommon. While working as an assistant in the speech department at the University of Wisconsin from 1920 to 1922, Sara Stinchfield Hawk earned that inaugural post-graduate speech degree from the newly formed doctoral program at the university under Smiley Blanton.

We will create new exhibits and post them on our archive page to showcase important events in ASHA’s history. New exhibits will also feature significant people who helped to define, direct and foster the emerging fields of audiology and speech-language pathology.

As ASHA approaches its centennial in 2025 (less than 10 years away!) we hope this site educates readers and helps them develop a deeper appreciation of the association’s rich past. This archival site ensures the legacy borne by those that have come before will not be forgotten. In the words of historical film maker Ken Burns, “It is the great arrogance of the present to forget the intelligence of the past.”


Mona Heath is ASHA’s information resources manager. mheath@asha.org

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1 comment

Charlie Anderson October 12, 2016 - 11:42 am

Thank you for sharing our history. It is beneficial to be reminded of our origins and development. Keep up the good work.

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