The Association of American University Presses was informally
started in the 1920s and formally organized in 1937 as a non-profit trade organization
of American and Canadian university presses.
The earliest document I found among the papers of the Association was the carbon copy of
a memo of 22 June, 1921, from Donald P. Bean, then at the University of Chicago Press,
to the administrative committee of the Press, reporting on a recent meeting in New York,
attended by the representativesof the university presses of Columbia, Johns Hopkins,
Yale, Harvard and Princeton. A proposal was made at that meeting by Mr Marsh, also of
the University of Chicago Press, for the organization of an association of American
university presses, open without dues or other expenses, to "one representative of each
press maintained by an American university or college, and authorized to use its name."
The kind of press to which Mr Marsh refers had been established in America, starting in
the second half of the 19th Century by men who envisioned universities as a tripartite
arrangement consisting of a faculty responsible for teaching and research, a library,
and a publishing house to disseminate the results of the interaction between the other
By the beginning of World War II, over thirty presses had been established until today,
seventy-six unviersity presses are members of the Association. In 1878, Daniel Coit
Gilman, President of the Johns Hopkins University, began America's oldest continuously
operating university press in Baltimore. Andrew White, President of Cornell, had earlier
founded what would have been the first university press, but the press at Cornell,
started in 1869, lasted only until 1884 when its appropriation was cut, and it did not
resume operation until 1930. In 1891, William Rainey Harper founded the University of
Chicago Press and Nicholas Murray Butler began a press at Columbia two years later. A
press was also started at the University of California in 1893. The names of these
presses and their directors appear frequently in the early records of the association.
On February 8, 1937, the university presses banded together February 8, 1937, the
university presses banded together in a formal organization, adopted a constitution and
elected their first officers, Donald Bean as President and Charles Proffitt as
Secretary. An event of importance to an understanding of the Association, its purpose
and activities - the all important 'provenance' of its papers - is the major
reorganization the Association underwent in 1964. It emerged from this reorganization in
the form of two corporate bodies: AAUP and AUPS. The Association of American University
presses, Inc. (AAUP) was formed under the Membership Corporation Law of the State of New
York on July 31, 1964 as a successor to a portion of the assets and operations of the
unincorporated Association. The remaining portion of the assets and operations were
assumed by the American University Press Services, Inc. (AUPS) formed also on July 31,
1964 under the Business Corporate Law of the State of New York.
The Certificate of Incorporation of AAUP provides that its purposes are to encourage the
dissemination of the results of research and scholarship through the development of
university presses, provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and offer technical
assistance and advice to institutions of higher learning. Its activities include
assistance to university presses, educational programs such as day-long seminars and
liaison with publishing and educational organizations in the United States and abroad.
The activities of the AUPS consist of the cooperative activities we trace in the early
records: operation of the Educational Directory, publication of bibliographies such as
Scholarly Books in America,
combined exhibits of
university press books at scholarly and professional meetings and preparation of a work
An Advertiser's Guide to Scholarly
an annual compilation of information about American and foreign
journals, the responsibilities of the Central Office staff are to assist in the
operation of the cooperative enterprises, help with the planning and conduct of annual
meetings, relieve elected officials of routine work and carry through the Association's
contact with other organizations.
By ruling letter dated June 28, 1965, AAUP was held to be an exempt organization under
the provisions of the IRS code, Section 501(c)(3). This is of value to the Association
in its work because it makes the Assocation eligible for foundation grants which would
be difficult to procure otherwise. The early records show, for instance, that in 1931,
the Rockefeller grant enabling the creation of the Educational Directory had to be given
to the Unviersity of Chicago as an educational organization rather than to the
Association. AUPS income is not exempt from federal, state or local taxes.
1918 - First recorded attempt at cooperation between university presses, a joint sales
effort by Harvard and Yale University Presses to sell scholarly books to New York City
1928 - Publication of
joint catalogue of 13
university presses listing 65 titles.
1928 - University presses begin holding day-long annual meetings.
1929 - Publication of the Bean Report, "American Scholarly Publishing," detailing the
problems of scholarly publishers.
1931 - Grant from Rockefeller Foundation made to the University of Chicago Press to
inaugurate The Educational Directory, a specialized mailing list of academicians and
1931-1932 - Series of 13 cooperative university press advertisements appear in
The New York Times
under heading "The Lookout."
1932, 1933 - Publication of mark-down sales catalogues.
Mid-1930s - University press cooperative exhibits prograa organized by the University of
Chicago Press .
1932 - Publication of O.H. Cheney's,
Economic Survey of the Book
outlining enlarged program of joint activities by the
1932 - Publication of Donald Bean's "Memo Addressed to the Producers of Highbrovr
Tobaccaos," written in response to the Cheney Report and calling for an organization
distinguished from that of the "commercial tobacco producers."
1936 - Announcement by Farrar and Rinehart of an organization to be called "United
University Presses, Inc., " to maintain a display of scholarly books and to wholesale
1937 - Formation of the Association of American University Presses (AAUP), adoption of a
constitution and election of first officers.
1941 - First assessment of annual membership dues, $10 per press, to cover cost of
communications between member presses.
1946 - Formal adoption of AAUP By-Laws .
1949 - Publication of Chester Kerr's,
Report on American
1953 - Establishment of
Scholarly Books in America
University of Illinois Press.
1956 - Ford Foundation grant of $2,725,000 to help publish books in humanities and
1959 - Organization of AAUP central office in New York City.
1960 - Publication of study by Richard G. Underwood, "Production and Manufacturing
Problems of American University Presses", funded by the Ford Foundation.
1960-1965 - Rockefeller Foundation grant of $225,000 for Latin American Translation
1964 - Establishment of American University Press Services (AUPS).
1965 - Establishment of CILA, Centro Interamericano de Libros Academicos, with grants
from Rockefeller and Ford Foundations.
1967 - Publication of first edition of
University Press Books for
Secondary School Libraries.
1967 - Publication of
To Advance Knowledge,
1967-1968 - National Endowment for the Humanities grant of $50,000 to promote scholarly
works and publications in the humanities.