History of ABC: Dues and Members

The Depression-era dues of $2.00 lasted until 1948, when dues were raised to $3.00; in the 1950s, they rose to $5.00.

In 1968, Fran recalls, "we were so low on finances that we could barely pay the printing bill. As an emergency measure, we created a $100 life membership and raised enough money to keep us solvent for the rest of the year" (Weeks, 1985, p. 20). Some 38 Life Members are still on ABC's rosters. Regular dues were also raised, first to $10, then to $15 in 1971, and to $20 by 1976. In 1987, the Board voted to raise dues (then $35) to $40. At its 1995 meeting in Orlando, the Board raised dues again, effective January 1, 1996. By 2001, dues had doubled to $80. Even at that rate, ABC remains a great value compared to other professional organizations.

Just as dues have grown, so has membership. At the end of 1936, ABWA had 66 charter members. In 1938, "Cy" Frailey of Dartnell Publications became the 100th member. The Association's membership topped 1,000 for the first time in 1969. In September 2002, we have approximately 1200 individual members and 900 institutional members (mostly libraries).

In the past 65 years, the range of ABC's members has expanded as well. In 1937, all ABWA members were North American: one from Canada and 71 from the United States. By contrast, in 2002, 20% of all ABC membership are from Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. In the early days, the Association was also wary of accepting business people as members. In fact, ABWA's founders, unhappy with organizations dominated by business people, offered full voting membership only to college teachers. When Andy retired in 1971, the constitution was changed to grant full privileges to all members. Today, our membership includes not only teachers but also independent communication consultants and business practitioners).