Link to home

The Society That Almost Wasn't: Issues of Professional Identity and the Creation of The American Phytopathological Society in 1908

January 2010 , Volume 100 , Number  1
Pages  14 - 20

Paul D. Peterson and Karen-Beth G. Scholthof

First author: Department of Entomology, Soils, and Plant Sciences, Pee Dee Research & Education Center, 2200 Pocket Road, Clemson University, Florence, SC 29506-9706; and second author: Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, 2132 TAMU, Texas A&M University, College Station 77845-2132.

Go to article:
Accepted for publication 8 September 2009.

The creation of The American Phytopathological Society (APS) in 1908 was a response to the developing professionalism in the biological and agricultural sciences in the United States between 1880 and 1920. During this period, a new generation of plant pathologists emerged in the United States Department of Agriculture, agricultural colleges, and state agricultural experiment stations with a methodological and theoretical framework to determine the cause and nature of disease and make control recommendations based on experimental evidence. These plant pathologists, in turn, became eager to establish a professional identity, for some an identity separate from traditional botany and mycology. For these scientists, the goal would be facilitated by establishing a new society for plant pathologists. The story of the creation of APS is best understood within the nature of the ensuing debates over identity and the merits of forming a new society among its first generation of scientists.

© 2010 The American Phytopathological Society