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60 Years and Still Going Strong
by James O. Spichiger


n Feb. 16, 1946, the American Society for Quality Control (ASQC) was founded by 253 members of 17 separate quality related societies. This year, the Society, now known as ASQ, is marking its 60th anniversary. A special website is devoted to the celebration.1 Who were these pioneers of quality with the vision to come together and create the Society that has endured this long? How has the quality profes-

sion and ASQ itself changed during this timeframe? The first of these questions are answered on ASQ’s website, which identifies the 253 founding members.2 The founding members themselves are probably the best source for an answer to the second question. Remarkably, there were 14 survivors when I started contacting founders in early 2006, and I was able to successfuly contact 13. They provided insights and contributed significantly to this article. Sadly, one survivor who responded, Ralph Wareham, died Feb. 27 at the age of 91.

In 50 Words Or Less
• In 1946, ASQ’s founders started an organization that has grown in numbers, scope and information offerings. • Thirteen surviving founders shared their thoughts about what they have seen and experienced as longtime members. • Their comments were candid, frequently similar and occasionally surprising.

In the Beginning
The January 1947 issue of Industrial Quality Control, the forerunner of Quality Progress, tells about the Society’s founding members. Surprisingly, that information contradicts logic, ASQ’s timeline and some of today’s common beliefs. Maybe it is human nature to simplify the past so everything can be consolidated and categorized. But historical information often doesn’t fall neatly into place. Logic dictates all the original members of ASQC would be considered founders. But this newly formed professional society evidently was in need of revenue. So initial members had the option of upgrading their ASQC membership to founding


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member status by paying an additional sum of not less than $5. Later members also could gain this distinction by paying an additional sum of not less than $7.50. Either fee had to have been paid by June 30, 1947. The May 1947 issue of Industrial Quality Control indicates 183 members had achieved founding members status by that time. The article says these people would be identified as founding members in the 1946-47 yearbook but that a final list would be published in the 1947-48 yearbook. It further urges members “to evidence their support of the Society in this critical period of its development.” The September 1947 issue of Industrial Quality Control includes a report from executive secretary

Wareham that breaks down the Society’s membership and rapid early growth, as shown in Table 1 (p. 44). “The steady and uninterrupted growth of the Society has been most encouraging throughout the period since its inception,” the report says. It also indicates the Society had 17 sections (see Table 2, p. 45) when it was formed on Feb. 16, 1946, but a total of 24 sections in the United States and Canada by June 30, 1947. Groundwork already was being laid for new sections. Interestingly, ASQ now has 252 sections—a number just one less than the number of founding members. I have been unable to determine the difference

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American Society for Quality Control (ASQC) formed.
1943 1944 1946

First Annual Technical Conference held.
1947 1948

First Brumbaugh Award recipient is Leonard A. Seder.
1949 1952 1954

First War Production Board quality control courses introduced.

Industrial Quality Control newsletter launched by the Society of Quality Control Engineers in Buffalo, NY.

First Midwest Quality Control Conference held. Toronto Section, the first ASQC section outside the United States, is chartered. ASQC Education Committee formed.

First public showing of the film Modern Quality Control.

ASQC code of ethics adopted. First Shewhart Medal honors Col. Leslie E. Simon.

ASQC membership stands at 2,500.

Fortune magazine publishes “Statistical Quality Control Is Among the Sharpest Management Tools Developed in Half a Century.”

Textile Technical Committee becomes ASQC’s first technical division.

Chemical Division formed. Western Regional Council formed.

between Wareham’s 1947 report citing 243 founding members and the 253 founding members now acknowledged by ASQ. We could surmise paperwork eventually caught up to him, and he adjusted the number accordingly. Or, there simply might have been a typographical error in Industrial Quality Control. Regardless, and despite what ASQ’s website says, the Society was not actually formed by 253 people on Feb. 16, 1946, but rather by several hundred representatives from 17 sections. The credited 253 people undoubtedly played a major role in the early development of the Society through leadership and contributions of articles and financial support.

The following is a summary of responses gathered from interviews, e-mail responses and written correspondence received from the 13 founders I was able to contact: • M.G. Anderson. • Edward Coleman.* • Alfred Davis.* • James Eaton. • Armand Feigenbaum. • William Ferguson. • Charles Hicks.* • Robert Jones Sr. • Joseph Juran. • Ben Lloyd.* • Marjorie Sutherland.* • Ralph Wareham.* • Robert Welch. Juran and Feigenbaum are Honorary Members, and six, denoted by asterisks, are ASQ Fellows. Wareham was the Society’s original executive secretary and ASQ’s second president, in 1948-50. Davis represented the Rochester Society for Quality Control at the February 1946 meeting in New York City and served as ASQ president in 1953-54. Feigenbaum served two terms as an ASQ president from 1961 to 1963. In addition to these founding members, I interviewed Stanley Elliott of the ASQ Columbus Section. Elliott has been a regular member of ASQ since April


Early Membership Growth
Founding 91 139 148 184 188 243 Regular 408 891 1,292 1,606 1,633 1,683 Total 499 1,030 1,440 1,790 1,821 1,926

Date May 22, 1946 Sept. 28, 1946 Dec. 15, 1946 April 1, 1947 June 5, 1947 June 30, 1947


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International chapter formed.
1955 1956

General Technical Council formed.

First Edwards Medal honors Simon Collier.

Education and Training Board formed.
1960 1963

International Academy for Quality established.
1965 1966

Three new divisions formed: Automotive, Electronics and Administrative Applications.

ASQC headquarters operations (administration and publications) are consolidated in Milwaukee. Aircraft and Missile Division formed.

First student branch organized at City College of New York.

Technometrics journal debuts.

Food and Allied Industries Division formed.

North East Quality Control Council formed.

ASQC co-sponsors first International Congress on Quality Control.

Publications Management Board formed.

with many prominent quality pioneers, including 1946, and though he can be considered an original Walter Shewhart, George Edwards, Martin Brummember, he evidently did not pay for the privilege baugh, Dorian Shainin, Harold Dodge, Harry of being designated a founding member. Romig, Feigenbaum, Juran and Wareham. I asked each of these founding members and Elliott the following questions: • Why did you join ASQC in TABLE 2 ASQ Founding Sections 1946? • Why have you continued to be Original section name Current section an ASQ member for the past Boston Society for Quality Boston Section 0100 60 years? Society of Quality Control Engineers of Buffalo Buffalo Section 0201 • How have you seen ASQ Chicago Society for Quality Control Chicago Section 1201 change over the past 60 years? • How have you seen the qualiDelaware Society for Quality Control Delaware Section 0506 ty profession change over the The Atlanta Society for Quality Control Greater Atlanta Section 1502 years? Illinois Society for Quality Control Central Illinois Section 1200 • What is/was your highlight of Indiana Society for Statistical Quality Control Indianapolis Section 0903 being a member? Society for Quality Control State University of Iowa Group State University of Iowa Section 1303 All were forthcoming, and you Michigan Society for Quality Control Greater Detroit Section 1000 might find some of their responses rather surprising. I was surprised Milwaukee Society for Quality Control Milwaukee Section 1202 by the detail most respondents Newark Society for Statistical Quality Control None were able to recall and the occaNorthwestern University Quality Control Group None sional comments indicating some Ohio Quality Control Society N/A dissatisfaction with ASQ. Philadelphia Quality Control Society Philadelphia Section 0505 As expected, responses to each Pittsburgh Quality Control Society Pittsburgh Section 0802 question varied, but in most cases Quality Control Engineers of Rochester Rochester Section 0204 they contained a common thread. Several respondents indicated they The Society of Quality Control Engineers of Syracuse Syracuse Section 0206 had worked with and were friends

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ASQ’s first certification exam— for quality engineers—administered to 226 candidates in 14 locations.
1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1974

Sustaining membership program for organizations introduced.

First Grant Award honors Joseph M. Juran.

Industrial Quality Control magazine splits into two separate publications: Quality Progress magazine and the Journal of Quality Technology.
Reliability Division formed.

Inspection Division formed.

Certification offered for quality technicians.

Product Safety and Liability Prevention Technical Committee formed.

Certification offered for reliability engineers. Biomedical Division formed.

Nuclear Power Division formed. Professional Development Council formed.

McDermond Award for divisions established.

Many responders worked for well-known companies such as Bell Labs, Western Electric, General Electric, Eastman Kodak and Bausch & Lomb.

techniques through educational and networking opportunities.

Why Have You Remained a Member?
A wide variety of responses was provided. Juran simply said he has never left the quality profession. Jones stayed for the same reason he joined—to help further his knowledge in the quality field. He also remained a member for the same reason Sutherland, Hicks and Ferguson did—many friendships. Wareham remained a member to continue his work with quality standards. Both he and Lloyd mentioned it benefited their respective consulting businesses by helping them keep in touch with clients. Eaton and Welch gave an altruistic reason. They remained members because they believed ASQC was a worthwhile organization to support. Davis wryly commented that though he left the quality profession, he “was proud to continue my membership with the benefit of not having to pay dues.” As Honorary Members, Feigenbaum and Juran have lifetime ASQ membership. In addition, all surviving founding members receive free membership because ASQ provides it to any retiree who has had 30 or more years of continuous membership. Several indicated this is the primary reason they are members today.

Why Did You Join?
At the time they joined, all the founding members who responded were quality professionals working in the quality control field. Juran and Davis said they were chief inspectors, while five others worked with or taught statistics and statistical sampling. Several said they joined for the networking opportunities the Society offered through local meetings and because of interest in working with others in this growing field. Some indicated they were members of existing local quality groups (one from the Quality Control Engineers of California and three from the Rochester Society), so their membershipss carried over to the national Society when the various groups combined. The outlier in this group is Elliott, who told me his co-workers actively recruited him because the Society needed members. He was reluctant to join, but they kept pressing until he finally did. Sixty years of continuous membership for a “reluctant joiner” is quite an accomplishment! All respondents became members for the same primary reason people still join ASQ—to further advance their knowledge of quality tools and

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Certification offered for mechanical inspectors.
1977 1979 1981 1982 1983 1984

First National Quality Month Forum held. First ASQC/Gallup Survey conducted.
1985 1986

ASQC accredited as a standards developer by American National Standards Institute.

Statistics Division formed. First Deming Medal presented to W. Edwards Deming.

First Lancaster Medal honors A.V. Feigenbaum.

Certification offered for quality engineers in training.

Human Resources Division formed.

ASQC convinces Congress to designate October as National Quality Month; President Reagan signs proclamation.

ASQC Quality Press begins publishing books. NASA Excellence Award, the first nationwide quality award in the United States, established with ASQC as its administrator.

Membership surpasses 50,000 mark.

Anderson and Elliott noted they left the quality profession but remained members of ASQC because of their interest in quality control. Elliott also remained a member because his work with statistical quality control convinced him that “it was a good thing for manufacturers and for customers.” Feigenbaum said he remained a member because the field of quality has progressively grown in scope and contribution.

How Have You Seen ASQ Change?
The respondents provided remarkably similar responses to this question, saying ASQC has changed from being just a small group of people meeting in New York City to a worldwide organization with considerably more members. Some notable changes mentioned include ASQ’s covering a broader scope of quality related topics and greater emphasis on training and certification. Jones specifically cited a process vs. product focus, expansion of textbooks, magazines and other sources of information and more attention to the human element. Feigenbaum mentioned the scope of quality applications “extends far beyond its original primarily manufacturing base.” Ferguson added, “Emphasis on statistics turned to total quality management, military standards

became industry standards, and ISO’s global standards prevail.” Jones continued this idea: “The Society has recognized the importance of the management aspect and at the same time has moved into many other areas, such as customer satisfaction, and new fields, including medical, government, measurement, education, marketing and personnel.” Sutherland completed this theme: “The biological field has begun to use statistical techniques, and the procedures I used have spread out to different industries.” On the less flattering side, two respondents indicated ASQ is much more political now than it had been in the past.

How Has the Profession Changed?
ASQ has changed as the quality profession has changed—or is it vice versa? Most responses from the previous question blended with the answers to this question. Some founders simply stated, “See previous response.” No one specifically mentioned today’s growth of Six Sigma, but most did comment on the reduction or elimination of inspection and quality departments through the diffusion of quality into other departments. Additional comments on the profession’s changes included: • Jones: “Quality professionals are required to

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Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award established, with ASQC as coadministrator.

ASQC offers expanded menu of 39 professional and technical development courses.
1988 1989 1990

ASQC constitution and bylaws undergo first total rewrite since 1946.
1991 1992

Public Sector Network (precursor of the Government Division) becomes ASQC technical committee.

American Customer Satisfaction Index, cofounded by ASQC and University of Michigan Business School, is released for first time at the Quality Forum.

American Quality Foundation established. Certification offered for quality auditors. ISO 9000 family of quality management standards debuts and is distributed by ASQC in the United States.

25,994 ASQC certifications awarded to date. Koalaty Kid pilot program launched.

Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) founded.

Two new divisions formed: Customer Supplier and Healthcare.

Membership surpasses 100,000 mark. Three new divisions formed: Service Industries, Measurement Quality and Quality Audit.

Two new divisions formed: Education and Architectural/Engineering and Construction.

Quality Management Journal debuts.
First Ishikawa Medal honors William R. Garwood. First Governors Conference on Quality in Education (precursor to National Quality Education Conference) held.

First research fellowship grants awarded. Koalaty Kid training initiative begins in 11 North American elementary schools. ASQC joins with National Science Foundation and Total Quality Forum to launch Transformations to Quality Organizations research grant program. ASQC establishes presence in Washington, DC, to promote and support quality’s relationship to national issues.

Quality Engineering journal debuts.

• •

have more knowledge and capabilities than in the past. They must look at the broad picture more than ever before.” Lloyd: “The economics of quality have become more sensitive. Previously the emphasis was focused on the product through statistical process control. The professionals of today focus on the value of the work that is done throughout the organization.” Juran: “The infusion of science, especially in product development, has been a big and helpful change.” Wareham: “There are more consultants now.” Ferguson: “Consultants dominate … to the neglect of the measurement management and paperwork proficiencies of how to, when to, where to and why to.”

What Was Your Highlight?
Although the highlights of membership varied by person, several themes were prevalent: the recognition bestowed, their service to ASQ and

the opportunity to meet and learn from “wonderful people” in the quality profession. Lloyd was proud of the special banquet the Toronto Section held in his honor in 1996 for his 50 years of ASQC membership. Wareham was proud of the recognition he got by becoming a Fellow and receiving the Distinguished Service Medal. He also mentioned his enjoyment of acknowledgment from peers and clients and from meeting many famous people within the profession. Jones also remembered being named a fellow and enjoying the opportunity to meet and learn from many people. Sutherland’s highlight coincided with her reason for joining—friendships with other members. Eaton’s highlight was serving as chairman of the Rochester Section. Feigenbaum wrote that his highlight was his two terms as president of ASQ and his term as chairman of the board. Similarly, Hicks enjoyed serving as a national vice president in the 1960s and being named a Fellow.

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Certification offered for quality managers.

Certified software quality engineer examination piloted.

American Society for Quality Control changes its name to American Society for Quality.
1997 1998

First Freund-Marquardt Medal awarded to Robert W. Peach.

Certification exams translated into Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. ASQ moves into its first permanent home, the ASQ Center in Milwaukee.

Software Quality Professional journal debuts.

Quality 101 computer based, self paced training launched.

Community Quality Council Technical Committee formed. Deborah Hopen becomes ASQC’s first woman president. ASQC’s first website established.

ASQC celebrates its 50th anniversary and publishes its first futures study. ASQC collaborates with Institute for Healthcare Improvement on initiative aimed at reducing motor vehicle injuries. ISO 14000 family of environmental management standards debuts and is distributed by ASQC in the United States.

ASQ mounts grass roots campaign for funding of Baldrige expansion into education and healthcare. RAB begins ISO 14000 environmental management systems registrar accreditation. U.S. Standards Group on Quality, Environment, Dependability and Statistics (QEDS) forms and selects ASQ as its administrator.

First Feigenbaum Medal honors Pedro M. Saraiva.

ASQ named administrator of Quality Excellence for Suppliers of Telecommunications (QuEST) Forum.

Three new certifications debut: quality improvement associate and auditing add-ons for biomedical and hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP). ASQ’s first WorldPartner, the Professional Argentine Institute for Quality and Excellence, is signed. The Singapore Quality Institute and the Hong Kong Society for Quality also become WorldPartners. ASQ and the European Organization for Quality sign a partnership agreement.

2001 Certification offered for Six Sigma Black Belts.

Six Sigma Forum Magazine debuts.
First Juran Medal honors Robert W. Galvin. ASQ forms affiliation with Assn. for Quality and Participation (AQP). The Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers, Excellence Ireland, the Israel Society for Quality and Brazil’s Regional Program of Quality and Productivity become WorldPartners. New Distinguished Service Medal established.

Ferguson’s highlight was being invited to be the featured speaker at the Los Angeles Section’s 60th anniversary dinner. Anderson said the highlight for him was sponsoring a quality control symposium in Binghamton, NY, where he worked. Welch enjoyed his years as a Princeton (NJ) Section volunteer and his involvement with both the Ellis Ott and Deming conferences. He also provided a unique response: “Putting the stuff to work. Showing management they need to improve their work and then getting the resources to make it happen.” Several respondents mentioned no highlight. Juran explained he never held a Society leadership position and the few committees he served on “didn’t accomplish much.” He qualified this by saying honorary membership was prestigious but was bestowed for his contribution to the field and not directly related to his being an ASQC member. Some of the responses revealed unhappiness with ASQ. The reasons included dissatisfaction with its purpose and the Society’s failure to make

some of their colleagues Honorary Members. Some other respondents criticized ASQ’s focus on serving its membership rather than a higher purpose of serving the whole of society through standards and legislative work. One founder commented that while some past ASQ presidents have tried to change this focus, most were “politicians wanting to draw attention to themselves.” Juran pointed out that ASQC’s creation came about not through the efforts of corporate chief executives but rather by the endeavors of middle managers, engineers, chief inspectors and others from the working ranks of various companies and educational institutions.

Results Then and Now
An overall reading of the comments of these founders makes it clear their efforts and perseverance not only led to the expansion of ASQ but also provided the foundation on which the quality field


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Team Excellence Awards competition becomes part of Annual Quality Congress. Kingsport, TN, becomes first grant recipient in Community Good Works Initiative.
2002 2003

Economic case for quality and quality body of knowledge initiatives launched.

ASQ China subsidiary established.
2005 2006

First Crosby Medal honors Subir Chowdhury. Automotive Division and Automotive Industry Action Group collaborate on use of ISO 9000 standards in healthcare. The Spanish Assn. for Quality and Excellence Finland become WorldPartners. Advanced Manufacturing Interest Group formed.

First online training webinar offered. Certification offered for calibration technicians. Canada’s National Quality Institute and the German Society for Quality become WorldPartners.

AQP merges into ASQ and becomes the Teamwork and Participation Forum. First Shainin Medal honors Carl A. Bennett. Information Integrity Interest Group established. ASQ renames Region 4, which represents all 15 Canadian sections, as ASQ Canada. ASQ leads effort in Congress to establish Baldrige category for nonprofits. The Korean Standards Assn. becomes a WorldPartner. ASQ Costa Rica becomes the first international member unit outside North America. RAB dissolves; succeeded by ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board and RABQSA International.

ASQ Quarterly Quality Report debuts. Boeing becomes first ASQ organizational member. Annual Quality Congress changes name to World Conference on Quality and Improvement. First Education Leadership Summit for Superintendents held. Certification offered for quality process analysts. ASQ’s board of directors approves the Brazil international member unit. ASQ named administrator for U.S. technical advisory group helping develop ISO 26000, a new social responsibility standard

ASQ invited by Congress to organize panel discussion for the 21st Century Healthcare Caucus. ASQ celebrates 60th anniversary. Certification for Six Sigma Green Belts debuts at World Conference in Milwaukee.

and profession have been built. Without a doubt, ASQ has played a key role in providing quality practitioners the resources they need to make meaningful and worthwhile contributions to their organization, their clients and society.

JAMES O. SPICHIGER is program manager for Lucent

Technologies, Columbus, OH. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Villanova University, Villanova, PA. A Fellow of ASQ, he holds the following seven ASQ certifications: quality manager, technician, auditor, engineer and improvement associate, Six Sigma Black Belt and mechanical inspector.

The author extends his appreciation to the founders who generously contributed their time and effort in support of this article.

Please comment
If you would like to comment on this article, please post your remarks on the Quality Progress Discussion Board at, or e-mail them to

1. Sixty Years of Quality, 2. ASQ’s Founding Members, who-we-are/founding-members.html.


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