This Day in History… November 5, 1852

American Society of Civil Engineers

US #1012 was issued for the ASCE’s 100th anniversary.  Click the image to order.

On November 5, 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers was founded in New York City.

Civil engineers are responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of dams, bridges, roads, canals, and railroads.  Some of the first calls for a professional society of civil engineers came in 1828 when John Kilbourn created his short-lived Civil Engineering Journal.  Inspired by Great Britain’s Institution of Civil Engineers, he suggested the US create its own organization. 

US #1012 – Classic First Day Cover. Click the image to order.

In 1838, a group of 13 notable civil engineers proposed the creation of the Institution of American Civil Engineers at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.  And in 1839, a group of 40 engineers met in Baltimore.  They got so far as drafting a constitution, but it failed to pass and the group was never formally established. 

US #993 honors America’s railroad engineers. Click the image to order.

Then in October 1852, Alfred W. Craven, Chief Engineer of the Croton Aqueduct in New York City, called a meeting to form the American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects.  On November 5, a group of 12 engineers met in his office at the Croton Aqueduct.  Their new organization would be open to “civil, geological, mining and mechanical engineers, architects, and other persons who, by profession, are interested in the advancement of science.”  The goal of the group was to increase the knowledge of engineers so they could improve the quality of their construction projects.

US #993 – Classic First Day Cover. Click the image to order.

The new group met periodically until 1855, but the Civil War delayed any more meetings until 1867.  When they did finally resume meetings, many of the original members were still involved, and they credited their president, James Laurie, with leading the efforts to keep the organization going.  They changed their name to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1868, and then created a charter and were incorporated in 1877.   As America’s first engineering society, the ASCE’s founders sought to have engineers serve as global leaders working toward building a better quality of life for all people.

US #5278 from the STEM Education set. Click the image to order.

Since its founding, the ASCE has become one of the world’s leading civil engineering organizations, working to further professional knowledge among its members and improve civil engineering practices.  They produce several technical and professional journals, hold several annual specialty conferences, and oversee nine full-service institutes dedicated to civil engineering.  Today the ASCE has over 150,000 members in 177 countries.

Click here for more from the ASCE’s website.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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