According to J.A. Fleming (1954), “The American Geophysical Union has to do with those theoretical and applied sciences relating to the Earth, its configuration, its structure, and the natural forces acting upon and within it.”
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) was created by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences for the purpose “to promote the study of problems concerned with the figure and physics of the Earth, to initiate and coordinate researches which depend upon international and national cooperation, and to provide for their scientific discussion and publication.”
AGU was formed in 1919 with seven original sections: Geodesy, Seismology, Meteorology, Terrestrial magnetism and electricity, Oceanography, Volcanology, and Geophysical chemistry. The first Annual Meeting was held in 1920 with 25 registered attendees. Geophysical chemistry was removed in 1924. Hydrology was added in 1930 and Tectonophysics was added in 1940.
Member fees were $2 USD annually for 1936.
By 1950 they had risen dramatically to $7.
In 1919, there was a limit to the number of members set at 65. By 1952, there were 5000 members.
A later review of the history of the Union was published by AGU in 1998 (Graedel, T.H., 1998).
This reflection of AGU from 1919 -1999 included a thematic view of the history of the Union.
- 1930s – The roots of a society
- 1940s – War and its aftermath
- 1950s – International Geophysical Year
- 1960s – Publications expansion
- 1970s – Independence
- 1980s – Outreach
- 1990s – New Foundations