In 1960 the Society of Architectural Historians, then in its second decade of existence, appeared in the New York Times on two occasions: in an article about the annual meeting and in an advertisement about the benefits of membership. Though unrelated, these mentions provide a good starting point for exploring perceptions of the learned society from within and without, raising issues about the nature and character of SAH as a dynamic organization whose aims and aspirations have evolved over seventy-five years.

In October 1960, when SAH had 1,500 members, the society placed an advertisement in the New York Times Book Review inviting “the participation and support of all professionals and laymen who share its...

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