The Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies was founded in 1948 as the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS).  The organization’s precursors—the Joint Committee on Slavic Studies (JCSS) and the American Slavic and East European Review (ASEER)—were two entities already in the field. The JCSS—a joint committee of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC)—supported scholarly conferences and publications, disbursed research and fellowship grants, and sponsored bibliographic and other projects. In 1938, the JCSS set up a subcommittee specifically for the review of Russian studies, whose chief activity was to prompt and finalize a proposal for a national professional organization. This subcommittee joined forces with ACLS’s professional journal ASEER—American Slavic and East European Review, a scholarly magazine launched in 1941 by John Hazard of Columbia University. By that point, ASEER had already created a corporation named ‘American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Inc. (AAASS)’. They did so, in 1948, so as to have an “legal umbrella” so that they would be permitted to print their journal in the State of New York–that year is still considered our Association’s official date of establishment.

Together, ASEER and JCSS coordinated the June 1, 1960 launch of a full-fledge national professional membership organization under the existing AAASS name. This new AAASS combined the activities of both the JCSS’s Russian Studies subcommittee and the ASEER. However, ASEER was soon enlarged, revised, and renamed to become AAASS’ own quarterly peer-reviewed journal, Slavic Review. Professor Donald Treadgold of the University of Washington was the initial editor of this new official AAASS publication. AAASS had (and continues to have) an interdisciplinary scope, and was to be a means of promoting contact and communication and of encouraging a sense of identification and association among those concerned with Russian and East European Studies. Its main functions were to distribute an annual bibliography, to sponsor professional meetings and scholarly conferences, to provide a non-juried periodic newsletter (published to promote the flow of information among society members regarding the status of ongoing research and other matters of general academic interest), and to promote and sponsor other projects designed to help the field as a whole.

 The Association held its first national convention in April 1964 at the Commodore Hotel in New York City, with 590 people in attendance. By the second convention in Washington, DC, in 1967, the attendance had grown to 780 participants.  Starting in 1970 the national convention became an annual occurrence, held at various venues around the US, with an occasional conference held outside the US. In recent years the convention attendance has ranged from 1,600 to 2,300.  For the past convention list, click here (wihich includes the first convention program). 

Since 1960, the Association has been housed at the University of Illinois (1960-1969), Ohio State University (1969-1981), Stanford University (1982-1995) and then Harvard Unversity (1995-2010).  The Association has been hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s University Center for International Studies since 2010. Also in 2010, the Association officially changed its name to “the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies” after a membership vote in 2008.  Currently ASEEES has approximately 3,000 members, predominantly from the US while including a significant contingent from outside the US, especially Canada, Europe, Australia, and East Asia. 

Additional Documents

Wikipedia entry on ASEEES
ASEEES Archive at the University of Illinois Archives – for more information on the archive holding, click HERE (pdf)
Announcement of name change to Slavic Review
First issue of NewsNet published in 1960
AAASS NewsNet announcement that it will become a member organization
Ralph Fisher’s unpublished manuscript on the the association’s history from 1960-1969 
Part 1  | Part 2
Dorothy Atkinson’s 1991 report, prepared for the National Council of Area Studies Associations
Norman Naimark’s 1998 Presidential Address
History of the Board of Directors
History of the Executive Committee
Program from the first AAASS Convention (1964)