The American Malacological Society (est. 1931)
The American Malacological Union, now the American Malacological Society, was founded in 1931 chiefly through the organizing efforts of Norman W. Lermond, a New England farmer, utopian community founder, Socialist Party politician, and amateur naturalist. Although a national organization of malacologists had long been discussed, Lermond undertook correspondence with amateur and professional malacologists throughout the country, and eventually gathered the names of 192 persons interested in forming an organization. Its first meeting was held on April 30-May 2, 1931, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with 29 attendees from 12 states. Its first president was Henry A. Pilsbry of Philadelphiaâs Academy of Natural Sciences. In 1997, an Internet presence was established with the introduction of a "home page" accessible via the World Wide Web to anyone with access to the Internet. Early fall of 1998, the membership voted to change the name of the organization from the American Malacological Union (AMU) to the American Malacological Society (AMS). In 1931 the choice of the word "Union" was appropriate as the organization was a group of professionals, a union of shell clubs, and individual amateurs. Over the years the word "Union" evolved to refer to trade and labor groups. The word "Union" presented problems for treasurers in establishing banking arrangements and for Presidents seeking outside funding for various functions of the organization. The name change brought the organization more in line with comparable societies with a better understanding of its focus, goals, and activities.
The AMS has met in the summer nearly every year since then, the series broken only by the skipped World War II years of 1941-1945. Meetings have taken place throughout the U.S., as well as once in Havana, Cuba (1938), and twice in Canada -- Montreal (1960) and Ottawa (1967). In 1948, a Pacific Division was organized, which held separate meetings on the west coast in years when the main body met on the east coast. In 1968, this function was taken over by the separately organized Western Society of Malacologists, which now meets jointly with the AMS in western sites. In 1998, the AMS met in Washington, DC, jointly with Unitas Malacologia in a World Congress of Malacology. That same year, the organization changed its name to the American Malacological Society.
An effort is made at each meeting to include symposia and special paper sessions to highlight key issues in malacology and to attract participants who might not otherwise attend. For example, topics featured in 1995 were island biogeography and the evolution of coleoid cephalopods; in 1996, shell morphology and freshwater mollusks; and, in 1997, deep-water mollusks, phylogenetic systematics, and North Pacific cephalopods.
From 1931 to 1933, reports of the annual meeting were given in the molluscan journal The Nautilus. From 1934 to 1970, an Annual Report [title varies slightly] was issued that included meeting abstracts, some extended, as well as reports on the business meeting and a membership list. In 1970, the annual publication begin to be called the Bulletin, with contributed papers occupying a more substantial fraction of the content, and an Index was issued in 1975.The Bulletin underwent a metamorphosis in 1983, becoming a full-fledged scientific journal called the American Malacological Bulletin [AMB]. Single issues were produced in 1983 and 1984, with two issues produced in most years since then. Three Special Editions have also been issued.Starting with 1986, abstracts of papers presented at the annual meeting were no longer included in the AMB, and could be obtained only with the Program made available only to meeting attendees. Starting in 1996, the Program and Abstracts were also mailed separately to members not attending the annual meeting. Symposia presented at annual meetings have been published either in the AMB or in other scientific journals. Details about the annual meetings and resulting publications are available in Annotated Catalog of Malacological Meetings, Coan & Kabat.Beginning in 1968, a Newsletter has also been issued, generally with two issues each year.
The organization has grown from the initial 29 who met in 1931 to approximately 600 members in 1998. Membership dues cover the cost of the AMB, the Newsletter, and meeting announcements. Membership may be acquired by application to the Treasurer.
The organization is governed by a Council, consisting of 17 members, including a President, President-Elect, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, AMB Editor, the three immediate past presidents, two past presidents from a 4-10-year time frame, two past presidents from a 10-or-more year time-frame, and four Members at Large. The Council meets during the annual meeting and is kept informed during the year by electronic mail. Committees that are active throughout the year include Publications, Student Awards, Conservation, Constitution & Bylaws, Membership, and Collections & Systematics.
Encouragement of Students
In addition to the lower membership rate for students, the AMS generally offers lower student registration and event fees at its annual meetings, and best paper and poster awards are presented. Starting in 1998, a research grant for students will be made available.