History of AAPT — Regional Sections

Local chapters of AAPT were authorized as early as April 1931, in an action taken by the Executive Committee in Washington: "A regional chapter may be established, upon approval of the Executive Committee, by ten AAPT members in a suitable geographical area. The chapter may elect officers, hold local meetings, and make suitable bylaws. Whenever the membership exceeds 24 the chapter shall be entitled to be represented by one member on the national Executive Committee." The constitution adopted in December 1931 provided for such chapters. The word "chapter" was replaced by "section" in 1947, when Wisconsin was admitted as the eleventh section. By this time, however, the representation of sections on the Executive Committee had become unwieldy, and the constitution adopted in 1951 provided for the establishment of a Council, much as it exists today. All section representatives are members of the Council, but only their chair and vice chair sit on the Executive Board of the Association.

From the beginning the rationale for local sections was primarily to provide meetings accessible to AAPT members and others interested in physics teaching. Each section must have well-defined geographical boundaries, devise its own constitution (which must be compatible with that of AAPT), and set its own dues. Individuals may be members of the section without being AAPT members, but they may not represent the section on the Council. Membership in AAPT is an individual matter, and many (perhaps most) AAPT members are not associated with any section. Sections do not contribute financially to the national organization, but are provided with services from the Executive Office. Their activities are reported in the national journals, formerly in AJP but more recently in Interactions. The sections range widely in geographical extent and in level of activity. A list of the 46 sections existing presently is available online at aapt.org/Sections