American Society for Quality Archives

Updated: Feb. 7, 2005

A Brief History of ASQ

Roots of the quality control movement may be found in the principles of scientific management developed by Frederick W. Taylor in the 1890s and early 1900s.  Taylor's systematic study of the use of time and motion by workers prefigured Walter Shewhart's application of statistical methods to the control of manufacturing quality in the 1920s.

Quality control developments during the 1930s enabled the new field to make major contributions to the success of the industrial production effort during World War II.  The satisfactory application of mathematics to problems of production and quality control helped establish the realization that earlier problems with part rejection and failure to meet customer standards were avoidable.  With this experience, management became interested in continuing quality control programs after the war.

The establishment of the American Society for Quality Control in 1946, with George D. Edwards as its first president, was perhaps the clearest sign that statistical quality control had found a permanent place in American business and industry.  The new society soon reached beyond the borders of the United States with the formation of an ASQC section in Toronto in 1946, and one in Mexico City in 1951.  Quality control was also taken to receptive audiences in Japan by W. E. Deming, and, in 1953, a Japanese section of ASQC was organized.  The 1960s saw international cooperation take the form of meetings such as the first Pan American Congress on Quality Control held in Mexico in 1964, and the first International Congress on Quality Control held in Japan in 1965.  At the latter meeting, representatives from ASQC, along with Japanese and European counterparts, formed an International Academy for Quality.  Within twenty years of the organization of ASQC, the techniques and theory of quality control were successfully exported across the globe.

The Organization's Name Change

In 1997 the members of ASQC voted to change the name of the organization to the American Society for Quality.  Recognizing that quality is important in all markets, even though related terminology may vary, the members revised the name to better reflect the Society's goal of providing valuable products and services to all interested in quality.

Throughout the finding aids for the ASQ Archives, the original name of the organization is used to describe documents generated previous to the name change.  In the case that a record series or group of documents contains materials created both before and after the change was made, the acronym ASQ(C) has been employed.

The Establishment of the ASQ Archives

In 1969, the American Society for Quality Control realized that the documents telling the story of quality control had not been assembled and preserved.  Once collected, these records were then placed in an academic archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to ensure they would be available for research use.

In 1981, work began on drawing up a legal agreement between ASQC and the University of Illinois to solidify this relationship.  During this time, Professor John Henry, who had been instrumental in establishing the initial agreement in 1969, wrote, "it is obvious that it is to the advantage of the Society to have as complete a set of records as possible in a secure place.  From the standpoint of the Library, the collection is available for research by qualified members of the Society and especially for graduate students who would find this a mine of information for study and thesis projects."

The original deposit agreement between ASQ and the University of Illinois Archives was formalized in November of 1986.  This contract has been renewed five times as of August 2002.