The following information was taken from “The American Association of Orthodontists: The biography of a specialty organization” by Wilber Morse Shankland, published by the American Association of Orthodontists, St. Louis, 1971.
The “American Society of Orthodontists” was formed in St. Louis in June, 1901 by Edward H. Angle and the faculty and Class of 1900 of Angle’s school of orthodontia. One of the objectives of the society was to establish orthodontics as a distinct dental specialty. In 1906, primarily as a result of the extraction controversy, Angle, his students and teachers resolved to continue as an organization but no longer as a part of the American Society of Orthodontists. They formed a new body, the Alumni Society of the Angle School of Orthodontia which published the first journal devoted exclusively to orthodontics, the American Orthodontist. The future course of the Alumni Society somewhat paralleled that of the American Society of Orthodontists, but after a stormy session held in 1913 in New London, Connecticut, the Alumni body ceased to exist.
As the spinoff pattern developed, other aspects of regionalism appeared. In 1909 some 15 charter members formed the Eastern Association of Graduates of the Angle School of Orthodontia. Its goals were similar to the American Society with the added value of enhancing the welfare of the alumni of the Angle School and its Alumni Society. The Angle school was discontinued in 1911 and the Society disbanded in 1913. The successor body continued to meet actively until 1939 when it was discontinued.
Many societies, including the American and Southern Societies of Orthodontists, the Eastern Association of Graduates of the Angle School of Orthodontia, and other local dental bodies associated with various proprietary schools or regional groups of orthodontists existed during the early 1900’s. The pattern of geographical divisions was picked up by the Eastern Association of Graduates of the Angle school which, like the former Alumni Society, drew together all the Angle graduates east of Chicago and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. With this large geographic expansion, totaling 66 members in all, it was thought advisable to concentrate on one annual meeting of a few days duration. Additional groups began to form as sectional societies within the larger whole.
A very short-lived International Society of Orthodontists was formed in St. Louis in 1907. It was sponsored by the faculty and graduates of the International School Orthodontia, an education-venture representing a splinter body of rebels against Angle’s dominance of the local area.
In 1937 the American Society of Orthodontists was reorganized and became the American Association of Orthodontists. At this time membership was as follows: New York Society 167 members, Southern 59, Southwestern 52, Central 76, Great Lakes 58, Rocky Mountain 16, Pacific Coast 86, and Independent 71. With the subsidiary alignments largely stabilized, the administrative body of the AAO was renamed the Board of Directors (formerly the Executive Council) which was assisted by the usual line of staff and elected executive officers. The Eastern Association of Angle Graduates disbanded about the time the American Society of Orthodontists was reorganizing. There was a general feeling at this time that the idea of component societies was fundamentally good in spite of the concerns held by some that the New York group would numerically dominate the AAO.
In the 1940s the New York Society of Orthodontists continued to add growing numbers of specialists from the New England states, Canada, and areas bordering the middle Atlantic coast to its rolls, and this condition made for crowded meetings and a desire to make its name truly reflective of its geographic profile. As a result, in 1946 the New York Society of Orthodontists became the Northeastern Society of Orthodontists.
At about the same time, the Northeastern Society’s soaring membership became one of several motives underlying discussions for forming a new constituent. Despite objectives from those who saw no need for such action, the movement was kept alive by its promoters, led first by Dr. William A. Giblin of Montclair, New Jersey, who was then an active member of the Southern society. He was soon joined by Drs. Gerald Devlin and Raymond Sheridan who helped carry on the formation of a new society to a successful conclusion.
In fact, it was Dr. Sheridan who appeared before the national Association’s Board of Directors meeting in 1950, to petition the favorable consideration for forming a new constituent. Dr. Norman Hillyer, responding for the Northeastern body show that the proposal was not wholeheartedly concurred by the group whereupon the board appointed a committee to examine both sides of the issue.
Wilson Flint, reporting for this committee, determined the validity for the petition. He showed that: 1. a smaller unit could be beneficial from an educational standpoint; 2. the loss of some 50 or so members would soon be recouped by Northeastern through the continuing growth of the specialty, and 3. such move would give impetus to smaller groups to do things on their own. In conclusion the committee recommended support for the petition.
The committee’s recommendation was sustained by constitutional action, and in 1951 a charter was granted. Geographic boundaries were to include New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania east the Alleghenies, and provisions made for Middle Atlantic to give consent to applicants in its jurisdiction to become members of any other society that may wish to accept them. Those currently members of the Northeastern and Southern societies could retain membership of those organizations.
With the good wishes the Northeastern constituent which presented the gift of a handsome silver bordered gavel, the Middle Atlantic Society of Orthodontists presented its first scientific program at Philadelphia in May of 1952; its first regular annual session came the following October. The list of seventy-one charter members was headed by a roster of officers that had Drs. George Anderson as its first President; Raymond Sheridan, Vice-president; Gerald Devlin, Secretary-Treasurer; and Stephen Hopkins, Editor. Emil Rosenast was the new societies’ first representative to the Board of Directors of the national orthodontic body.
By 1952 with establishment of the Middle Atlantic Society, reorganization of the American Association of Orthodontists was finalized. At that time its composition was as follows: the Pacific Coast Society organized in 1913, the Southwestern Society organized 1920, the Rocky Mountain Society organized in 1920, the Northeastern Society (formerly the New York Society) organized in 1921, the Southern Society organized 1921, the Great Lakes Society organized 1925, the Central Section (later Midwestern) organized in 1938, and the Middle Atlantic society organized 1952.
In 1960 in Washington, DC, the Middle Atlantic Society hosted the largest orthodontic meeting ever held. By 1966, membership had grown to a total of 247 active and 48 associate members and prospects were shown for continued growth. Individually, members of the Middle Atlantic Society were called upon to accept broader responsibilities in orthodontics. Dr. George Anderson served as President of the Association in 1960. Dr. Hopkins served as the Association’s Vice-president as well as President of the American Board of Orthodontics., and Dr. Charles Patton was elected President of the American Dental Association.