Published: Oct 1959
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Citizens of the United States are fully cognizant of their heritage from other countries; most look to Europe or the British Isles as the land of their forefathers. Others of us stem from Africa or the East; even the American Indian, original settlers of this continent, are said to have migrated from Asia! So we have learned not only to accept our foreign ancestry, but indeed to be proud of it. However, we have derived some satisfaction from the assumption that standardization is something quite typically American, illustrating perhaps the so-called industrial revolution that has contributed so largely to our economic development. Alas, even this morsel of national pride is denied us; the first organized meeting to discuss the subject of uniform methods of testing, which was beginning to assume considerable importance in industry, was held in Europe in 1882. There was subsequently formed an International Association for Testing Materials and in 1898 an American section was organized. After a short time, it became evident to the American members that an independent organization could best promote the important standardization and research work in this country, and in 1902 the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) was incorporated. So, our American Society, certainly one of the foremost of the world's standardizing bodies, is actually of European origin. This was most fortunate, for we inherited not only the scientific knowledge of our ancestry, but also the great cultural and ethical foundations upon which our further developments have been based.
Executive Secretary, Materials Advisory Board, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D. C.