AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 10. HAD IV: Women, Alignments, Biography
Historical, Display, Monday, May 31, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Southwest Exhibit Hall

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[10.01] The Founding of the AAS: The Status of Amateurs and Women

B. L. Welther (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory)

In conjunction with the dedication of the Yerkes Observatory in 1897, George Ellery Hale organized a Conference of Astronomers and Astrophysicists. It was so successful that Hale wanted to host a second conference in 1898 to launch an astronomical society in the United States. However, to ensure the participation of East Coast astronomers, Hale asked Edward Pickering to host the conference at Harvard. With this change of venue, the new society developed with less stringent membership requirements than those originally proposed by such astronomers as James Keeler of Lick Observatory. Essentially, Keeler's requisites would have barred amateurs from joining the society and didn't even consider women. However, the first Executive Council that met in Cambridge in 1898 decided that membership could be extended to anyone capable of producing an acceptable paper pertaining to some astronomical subject. This short review paper will feature the 1898 photograph of the Conference at Harvard and identify some of the attendees.

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