American Statistical Association (ASA)

American Statistical Association (ASA)

The American Statistical Association is the world’s largest community of statisticians, the `Big Tent for Statistics.` The ASA supports excellence in the development, application, and dissemination of statistical science through meetings, publications, membership services, education, accreditation, and advocacy. Our members serve in industry, government, and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare.

Company details

732 North Washington Street , Alexandria , Virginia 22314-1943 USA

Locations Served

Business Type:
Professional association
Industry Type:
Publishing / Media / Marketing
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)

History of the ASA

What do Florence Nightingale, Alexander Graham Bell, Herman Hollerith, Andrew Carnegie, and Martin Van Buren have in common?

These historical figures all were members of the American Statistical Association (ASA), the second oldest [175 years], continuously operating professional association in the country. Since it was founded in Boston one wintry November morning in 1839, the ASA has supported excellence in the development, application, and dissemination of statistical science through meetings, publications, membership services, education, and advocacy. Its members serve in industry, government, and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare. the association today continues a long tradition of promoting excellence in statistics and in its application to the frontiers of science, from biological to socio-economic to the physical sciences.

The ASA was formed at a meeting in the rooms of the American Education Society in Boston and was chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Present at the organizing meeting were William Cogswell, teacher, fund-raiser for the ministry, and genealogist; Richard Fletcher, lawyer and U.S. Congressman; John Dix Fisher, physician and pioneer in medical reform; Oliver Peabody, lawyer, clergyman, poet, and editor; and Lemuel Shattuck, statistician, genealogist, publisher, and author of perhaps the most significant single document in the history of public health to that date. By 1841, ASA was already an energetic society with a roster of 109 members.

From the ASA’s inception, the association has had a close affiliation with the statistical work of the U.S. government, particularly the Bureau of the Census. As early as 1844, ASA recommended to Congress that the Sixth Census 'be revised and a new and accurate copy be published.' In those early years, the heads of the Census were generally ASA members or officers. John B. D. DeBow, superintendent of the Seventh Census, was an ASA member. Francis A. Walker directed the Ninth Census and initiated the Tenth Census. Carroll D. Wright worked on finishing the Eleventh Census. The first director of the permanent census office was S. N. D. North, the sixth president of ASA and the first to serve a one-year term (1910). The current census director, Robert Groves, is a long-time ASA member.

Statistical work in government and business stimulated much expansion after World War I, including the founding of the first local chapters of the association. From 1920--1943, 22 chapters were formed across the country. Generally, these chapters were located in large cities, such as Washington (DC), Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. In addition, groups were formed in state capitals such as Albany, New York, and Austin, Texas, and at universities, such as the University of Illinois. Today ASA has over 70 chapters serving its members all across the country. They vary in composition and size, ranging from groups of less than 50 members to one with over 1,000 members.

In 1939, ASA celebrated its 100th anniversary, and events were held in Boston and Philadelphia. Membership reached an all-time high of more than 3,000. Some declines occurred, however, during the war years, and ASA's activities slowed, resulting in the cancellation of the 1942 and 1943 annual meetings. Following the war, the activities and membership of the association expanded rapidly in response to the many advances in science. The Business and Economic Statistics Section was established in 1950, followed by the Social Sciences Section and the Section on Physical and Engineering Sciences in 1954.

Today, the ASA serves 18,000 members in the United States, Canada, and overseas. In government, academia, and the private sector, ASA members apply their expertise to diverse and vital areas that include the following:

  • Research in medical areas such as AIDS
  • Environmental risk assessment
  • Development of therapeutic drugs
  • Exploration of space
  • Quality assurance in industry
  • Examination of social issues such as the homeless and poor
  • Analytic research on current business problems and economic forecasting
  • Setting of standards for statistics used at all levels of government
  • Promotion and development of statistics education for the public and profession
  • Expansion of methods and the use of computers and graphics to advance the science of statistics

Meetings
The ASA sponsors meetings and workshops around the United States, including the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) and many smaller, more specialized regional meetings.

Publications
The ASA publishes scholarly journals, general interest magazines, statistical research guides, informational brochures, membership information, and books of interest to statisticians.

Education
The ASA sponsors educational programs and meetings to enrich statistical knowledge. The ASA is also an active participant in K-12 education initiatives involving statistics and mathematics.

Science Policy
The ASA promotes the inclusion of statistics in policymaking and the funding of statistics research.

Career Services
The ASA provides assistance in all aspects of career planning, placement, and enhancement through information, salary surveys, online job ads, and career development tools.

Awards, Scholarships, and other Honors
The ASA acknowledges and recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to statistics or the association by sponsoring awards, honors, scholarships, and fellowships.

Today, the ASA serves 18,000 members in the United States, Canada, and overseas. In government, academia, and the private sector, ASA members apply their expertise to diverse and vital areas that include the following:

  • Research in medical areas such as AIDS
  • Environmental risk assessment
  • Development of therapeutic drugs
  • Exploration of space
  • Quality assurance in industry
  • Examination of social issues such as the homeless and poor
  • Analytic research on current business problems and economic forecasting
  • Setting of standards for statistics used at all levels of government
  • Promotion and development of statistics education for the public and profession
  • Expansion of methods and the use of computers and graphics to advance the science of statistics

The ASA is organized into sections, chapters, and committees. Chapters are arranged geographically, representing 78 areas across the United States and Canada. Sections are subject-area and industry-area interest groups covering 27 subdisciplines. The ASA has more than 60 committees coordinating meetings, publications, education, career development, and special-interest topics involving statisticians.