International Communication Association records
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives [Contact Us]3620 Walnut Street, Philadelpia, PA, 19104
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The International Communication Association (ICA) is the largest worldwide academic organization devoted to the systematic study of communication. Conceived in 1950 as the National Society for the Study of Communication (NSSC), the association was originally constituted as an offshoot of the Speech Association of America (SAA). The modern form of institutionalized communication study was at the time in its early stages of development. Increased specialization at colleges and universities, which encouraged the formation of “speech” and “journalism” programs, as well as higher demand for social scientific scholarship concerning the effects of new communication technologies and mass media, were the primary currents that led to the discipline’s official establishment. The formation of NSSC/ICA itself was considered an important milestone for the field, as it brought together scholars of both mass communication and interpersonal communication backgrounds, and provided a forum where they could present their research and shape the young discipline’s identity.
In the beginning, early communication scholars recognized the increasing diversity of academic interests within societies like the SAA and sought to create their own association that would encapsulate the new field of communication. In December 1949, professors Elwood Murray, Paul Bagwell, Wesley Wiksell, and Ralph Nichols proposed, before the SAA executive council, to form an affiliate association, and in January of 1950 the NSSC was officially founded. A constitution was subsequently drafted, and the first officers were chosen. The administration of the society was comprised of a national council (later the board of directors), an executive committee (initially composed of the president, two vice presidents, executive secretary, and six members at large), and several other standing committees for finance, membership, nominations, and publications. The purpose of the association as stated in the 1949 constitution was “…to study the nature of communication and its place in our society; to aid and encourage those individuals or groups attempting to improve the communicating process; to evaluate specific courses of training already existent; and to disseminate the results of our studies.” By the end of 1950 the NSSC had enrolled ninety-one members.
In order to fulfill its stated purpose, the fledgling league of communication scholars embarked on an array of societal activities. Various “study and research” committees, such as the Listening Committee and the Committee on Propaganda, were soon organized to function as working units that would produce original research. However, complications with logistics, and a lack of resources and interest, left many of the fifteen study and research committees inactive. Despite sustained discussion of restructuring, the research committee provision in the constitution remained unchanged for seventeen years, and continued to be widely regarded as the core of NSSC.
Other activities conducted by the NSSC included publishing and the organization of conference programs. Concerning the former, the society began putting out a quarterly newsletter, and its Journal of Communication was first published in 1951. While the Journal eventually became, and remains, the most prominent academic periodical for communication studies, acquiring articles proved difficult in its early years, and this prevented the publication from developing beyond a house organ. It was not until the mid-1960s that submissions increased and readership began to exceed direct membership. In addition to its print endeavors, a slew of NSSC-sponsored conferences and events were organized, such as the annual summer conventions and interdisciplinary conferences. These events were integral to NSSC’s early development, as they provided a venue where communication scholars could define the discipline and forge professional connections with researchers of other disciplines and associations.
Even as its programs burgeoned, membership and income during the 1950s to the mid-1960s remained fairly static, despite the dedicated efforts of many of the officers to promote the society. Reports from 1951 to 1963 show membership fluctuating between three hundred and five hundred. Starting in 1964, however, membership levels rose exponentially. The increase was in part due to greater advertising revenue from the Journal, and its growing prestige among university libraries. By 1971 there were nearly sixteen hundred members from the United States and forty-three foreign countries.
The rise in membership introduced an unprecedented measure of stability and diversity, and the NSSC’s increasingly broad academic orientation led to a number of administrative developments. In 1967, the organizational structure of the NSSC was changed with the adoption of new bylaws. These changes abolished the nearly defunct study and research committees, and in their place created a still extant interest group-division system. In contrast to the earlier research committees, interest groups could only be created if adequate enrollment were provided, and if an interest group expanded to represent 5% of ICA membership, it could acquire division status. Over time, the number of divisions has increased, and today there are more than thirty divisions and special interest groups, such as the Mass Communication division, the Intercultural Communication division, and the Feminist Scholarship division. Another important shift came in 1967, when the NSSC officially separated from its parent organization, the SAA. To reflect this new identity, the NSSC was officially renamed the International Communication Association in 1969.
ICA continued growing its operations throughout the 1970s. In 1973, Human Communication Research was introduced to the ICA publication catalog, and in 1977 Communication Yearbook, which included conference proceedings and literature reviews, was also launched. The first divisions began publishing their own newsletters, and organized sessions and workshops at annual conferences. To promote the increasingly global character of the association, the first international annual conference was held in Berlin in 1977. And the ICA Fellowship Program was inaugurated in 1979 with the aim of recognizing influential communication scholars from the association’s own membership.
In 1975, ICA settled into a permanent office in Austin, Texas. It was managed by the executive secretary (later the executive director), whose term and purview had recently been expanded. Previously, the secretary’s tenure had been limited to three years and he or she was responsible for keeping records relating to the annual conventions, business and board meetings, and membership; distributing official publications and notices; and submitting annual financial reports. In addition to these duties, he or she was now charged with maintaining the continuity of the association’s operations more generally, and was given a renewable three-year term to do just that. The secretary’s office would go on to become the point of constancy in an otherwise purposefully protean administration. Robert L. Cox retained the mantle of executive secretary director from 1974 to 2000, and was succeeded by Michael L. Haley in 2000. Laura Sawyer took over from Haley in 2016.
To commemorate the ICA’s twenty-fifth anniversary, the board of directors approved funding for the publication of a history of the organization in 1971. The board contracted Carl Weaver, who served as executive secretary from 1959 to 1961, to write the history, which was to be promoted at the 1975 annual conference. Weaver relied on oral histories and administrative records collected from past officers as sources for the project. While Weaver finished the history 1974, it was shelved later that year, largely due to shifts in board member composition and vision. The records Weaver used for the history, which include many of the NSSC’s foundational documents, were subsequently moved to the ICA office.
ICA membership and institutional activities remained relatively constant during the 1980s, before expanding throughout in the 1990s. From 1980 to 1990, membership hovered around two thousand, but by the turn of the century it had grown to include around three thousand individuals in total. Enrollment, however, tended to fluctuate during conference season, so to provide a more stable membership base throughout the year, the board altered the bylaws to align the membership year with the fiscal year. As of 2017, ICA is comprised of nearly 4,500 communication scholars with myriad research interests. Along with its increasing constituency, ICA’s publications also proliferated during the 1990s and 2000s. Communication Theory was introduced in 1991; the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication in 1994; and Communication, Culture, and Critique in 2005. Meanwhile, the newsletter switched from quarterly to monthly release—a schedule it maintains to this day.
While always a point of concern, the ‘International-ness’ of ICA had become an increasingly salient issue within the association throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, leading to changes in its administration and activities. It was decided that conferences would be held in locations outside the United States every other year. Since the mid-1990s, events have been hosted in Jerusalem, Acapulco, and Seoul, among others. In 2000, ICA established five regional-at-large board seats in an effort to promote a more global makeup to the administration, and in 2001, ICA moved its headquarters from a rented office in Texas to one in Washington D.C. to nurture a more international institutional orientation. The association purchased an office building in the same city in 2006 to serve as a permanent base of operations.
In many ways ICA’s development mirrors that of the discipline it was organized to explore and promote. As the association became more confident in its activities, the lineaments of academic communication programs and research agendas were also becoming more defined. Today, through its global event programs, varied publications, and division group structure, ICA continues to evolve along with its field—providing a network and platform for communication scholars the world over.
“ICA History.” International Communication Association. Accessed October 31, 2017. https://www.icahdq.org/page/History.
National Society for the Study of Communication, Constitution and Bylaws, article II. 1949. Box 29, Folder 5.
Weaver, Carl. A History of the International Communication Association. Unpublished manuscript, 1973. Box 27, Folder 6 and Box 28, Folder 1-5.
The records of the International Communication Association (ICA) were transferred from the association’s headquarters in Washington D.C. to the Annenberg School for Communication Library in 2016. The collection is composed primarily of administrative documents spanning from 1946 to 2016, which were accumulated under the auspices of the executive secretary (later known as executive director) of the association. These documents include correspondence, board meeting materials, constitutions and bylaws, committee records, conference proceedings, division records, financial records, membership records, and publication records. Overall, this collection represents the history of ICA through the twentieth and the early twenty-first centuries. While changes to the association’s organizational structure—specifically those made to the term of the executive director in 1967—and the founding of a central office helped to consolidate the association’s records, the annual rotation of most major officers has contributed to the somewhat irregular maintenance of the association’s documents throughout its history.
Most of the collection was amassed during Robert Cox’s tenure as executive director from 1974 to 2000, while the remaining documents originate from the time of Michael Haley’s term (2000-2015). The majority of the association’s historical records, while ultimately centralized at ICA headquarters by Cox, were initially acquired from past officers of the National Society of the Study of Communication (NSSC)/ICA by Carl Weaver in order to write a history of the association. Other historical records from the 1940s to the 1970s were most likely either given to Cox at later dates or were inherited from previous secretaries. The records of Sam Luna, who served as the ICA’s director of member services from 2001 to 2016, are also present, although fewer in number than those described above.
In an effort to preserve the records’ original order and contexts of creation, the collection has been organized primarily by officer, and is therefore divided into three series: I. Robert L. Cox, II. Michael Haley, and III. Sam Luna. A more detailed description of materials can be found at the series level.
The ICA records possess enormous historical value for researchers interested in the history of ICA, academic associations, and communication studies in general.
Gift of the International Communication Association, 2016.
- International Communication Association.
- National Communication Association.
- National Society for the Study of Communication.
- Speech Association of America.
- Speech Communication Association.
- Communication and culture
- Communication and technology
- Communication models
- Communication surveys
- Communication--Study and teaching
- Learned institutions and societies
- Mass media--Research
- Nonprofit Organizations
- Professional associations
- Visual communication
- University of Pennsylvania: Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Andrew Williams and Jordan Mitchell
- Finding Aid Date
- The processing of this collection was made possible in part through generous funding from the International Communication Association.
- Access Restrictions
The bulk of this collection is open for research use; however, certain materials in boxes 1, 2, 6, 7, 17, 18, 25, 45, 49, 50, and 56-59 are restricted from access until 2094 because they contain personally identifiable or other sensitive information. Researchers interested in the content of these boxes should contact the Annenberg School for Communicaiton Library Archives for further information.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Annenberg School for Communication Library Archives.
Spanning the years 1946 to 2001, Robert L. Cox’s series is divided into thirteen subseries: A. Correspondence, B. Administrative Records, C. Awards and Memorials, D. Board of Directors and Executive Committee, E. Committees, F. Divisions and Interest Groups, G. Events, H. External Relations, I. Fellows Program, J. Financial Records, K. Historical Files, L. Membership Records, M. Publications. Each is arranged beginning with correspondence (if present), and then proceeds alphabetically and/or chronologically.
Since the executive director was the association’s principal administrator, the range of records from Cox’s tenure represents virtually every aspect of the ICA and its operations. Additionally, Cox was responsible for ultimately preserving a great number of the association’s founding documents (see Historical Files below). Materials include correspondence, bylaws and constitutions, budgets, event programs and evaluations, guides and manuals, meeting agendas, member directories, minutes, needs assessments, newsletters, nominations and ballots, notes, photographs, policies, proposals, promotional art, reports, rosters, and surveys and questionnaires.
Researchers should note that despite the breadth of materials that makes up Series I, items have been removed from certain folders over time. This is especially true of certain board meeting and annual conference folders.
General correspondence files
Family Educational Fund and presidential correspondence
Includes a photograph
Includes letterhead scrims
Includes a photograph
Includes executive committee minutes from the 1977 mid-year meeting
Includes update on committee activities from 1999
Includes Equal Rights Amendment correspondence
Includes Garrison Memorial Fund correspondence
Historical Files, with dates ranging from 1946 to 2001, is divided into three sub-subseries: i. General, ii. Officers, and iii. Histories. Each is arranged beginning with correspondence (if present), and then proceeds alphabetically and/or chronologically.
The General sub-subseries includes documents created primarily prior to 1974, which could not be attributed to particular officers, and seem to have been gathered by Robert L. Cox during his time as executive secretary/director to serve as a kind of institutional archives. Records that could be attributed make up the Officers sub-subseries, and were either accumulated by Cox over the years, or acquired by Carl Weaver for his history project, and then bequeathed to Cox. Individuals represented include many of the NSSC/ICA’s founding members: Donald Bird, Ralph Nichols, Ron Smith, Wayne Pace, and Wesley Wiksell. Materials from these two subseries cover a range of the association’s early activities, and should be of particular importance to scholars interested in the history of ICA. They are chiefly comprised of correspondence, constitutions and bylaws, minutes and reports, research and operational committee documents, and event items. Additionally, as an appendage of the Speech Association of America (SAA) until 1967, the members and operations of the NSSC were closely related to their parent organization. A number of documents in the collection reflect this relationship, including interdisciplinary conference correspondence and newsletters.
There have been two attempts made to write a history of ICA. Carl Weaver’s was the first, and he labored on it from 1971 to 1974. During this time, as mentioned above, he solicited most of ICA’s founding documents from the original officers and added to them his own secretarial records. In all, Weaver’s materials include correspondence; thematically reorganized officers’ records (e.g., “Committies” or “The Journal”); and two drafts of his history: one handwritten and the other typescript. Weaver inlaid the former with his themed primary source material, which includes some of the earliest documents of the collection. While Weaver’s history was never published, an abridged version was printed in the 1977 edition of Communication Yearbook. The second history project was helmed by Steven Chaffee between 1998 and 2001. Aside from project correspondence, however, all materials therein are composed of rearranged photocopies of Weaver’s history and research files.
Sub-subseries d includes correspondence, meeting agendas, minutes, policies, proposals, reports, and rosters pertaining to the Committee on Annual Conferences; Committee on Bylaws; Committee on College Programs; Committee on Committees; Committee on Communication Disorders; Committee on Communication in the Military Services; Committee on Communication in Business and Industry; Committee on Communication in Government; Committee on Communication in the Family and Community; Committee on Communication Methodologies; Committee on Definition, Nature, Scope, and Function of Communication; Committee on Reading Comprehension; Committee on Relationships of Divisions to One Another and to the Association; Committee on Student Affairs; Committee on the Status of Women; Committee to Develop Research Programs in Areas Involving Wide Social Implications and in ICA; Constitution Committee; Creative Thinking Committee; Editorial Committee for Organizational Communication Sourcebook; Evaluations Committee; Executive Committee; Finance Committee; Liaison Committee; Membership Committee; Nominating Committee; Project Dealing with Responsibility in Communication; Publications Committee; Research Committee; Resolutions Committee; and Special Task Force on Coordinated Policy Planning.
Includes a photograph
Includes foundational documents
Includes historical documents
Includes historical documents
Includes original documents
Includes three floppy disks with Communication Yearbook member information
Michael Haley succeeded Robert L. Cox as the executive director in 2000. The records pertaining to his term span from 1972 to 2011, and are divided into twelve subseries: A. Administrative Records, B. Annual Conferences, C. Awards and Memorials, D. Board of Directors and Executive Committee, E. Bylaws and Constitution, F. Committees, G. Divisions and Interest Groups, H. Elections, I. Fellowship Program, J. Financial Records, K. Officers, and L. Publications. Each is arranged beginning with correspondence (if present), and then proceeds alphabetically and/or chronologically.
While the range of documents in Haley’s series is as broad as Cox’s (and in fact includes some of the latter’s own administrative and financial documents), the volume of material that belonged specifically to Haley is relatively small. Haley’s records feature mainly board meeting documents, conference programs, fellow documents, and financial records. A large portion of Series II actually consists of other officer’s records—namely, those of Peter Monge and Linda Putnam, who sent their files to Haley after their respective terms had drawn to a close. Monge was involved in many aspects of the ICA: he served on the executive committee from 1995 to 2001 and was president from 1997 to 1998. His documents are primarily composed of correspondence with other communication associations, board meeting materials, committee records, documents on the Information Systems Division, and publication records. Putnam served as president from 1999 to 2000, though her records are relatively modest in comparison to Haley’s and Monge’s. Putnam’s files are oriented towards events, though she also has files pertaining to membership, publications, and Chaffee’s history.
Includes Noelle-Neumann article
Sam Luna served as the director of member services from 2001 to 2016. His records date from 1998 to 2015 and are divided into seven subseries: A. Administrative Records, B. American Society of Association Executives, C. Committees and Special Task Forces, D. Events, E. External Relations, F. Membership, and G. Travel. Each is arranged beginning with correspondence (if present), and then proceeds alphabetically and/or chronologically.
He was responsible for promoting ICA at communication-related meetings and conferences throughout the world, such as those held by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC); the Council of Communication Associations (CCA); and the National Communication Association (NCA). Many of the materials in this series pertain to those events, and include correspondence, travel and hotel receipts, and itineraries. Additional records of the series include files related to Luna’s American Society of Association Executives certification, board meeting materials, and membership records.
Researchers should note that many folders in Series III dealing with Luna’s travel are restricted due to the sensitive financial information found therein. The majority of his materials pertaining to the workings of ICA itself, however, are open for use.
Includes compact disks