Pennsylvania Political Science Association
Pennsylvania Political Science Association


History of the PPSA


The Pennsylvania Political Science Association
The First Fifty Years

I. Origins
II. Purposes
III. Special Activities

Internship Programs
Polity and the Northeastern Political Science Association
"Best Paper" Awards
Pronouncements on Public Policy Issues
Meetings and Administrative Arrangements

IV. Programs
V. PPSA Records


The idea of an association to serve the needs of Pennsylvania’s political scientists was born during the second term of Governor Gifford Pinchot’s Administration (1931-1935). With a governor steeped in the “progressive Republican” Reform tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, many were excited by the prospect of improving state government in the Commonwealth. While serving as a member of the Pinchot Administration, Prof. Clyde L. King of the University of Pennsylvania assumed responsibility for sending invitations to a group of political scientists to meet at the state capitol with representatives of the Administration. As a result two informal conferences were held in 1931 and 1932. These gatherings were interesting and profitable but did not immediately lead to formal organization. With Prof. King’s departure from Harrisburg and subsequent death in 1937, these informal state meetings were suspended.


In 1938-1939 a committee of political scientists under the chairmanship of Prof. W. Brooke Graves of Temple University undertook to revive the annual state meetings and to plan for a permanent state association. This organizing committee acted in cooperation with the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Political Science Association, who was interested in promoting the establishment of state and regional groups of political scientists. The Pennsylvania Political Science Association, the first state as opposed to regional association, was formally organized at its first meeting in Harrisburg, April 22, 1939.  The recognized father of our association was the distinguished W. Brooke Graves, for many years Professor of Political Science and Chairman of the Department at TempleUniversity and, late in his career, head of the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress; he was widely acclaimed for his authoritative text on state government.



According to the original constitution, adopted at the first meeting in 1939, the Association’s purposes were “to stimulate research in government, politics and administration, with special reference to Pennsylvania; hold meetings for the discussion of state problems; and encourage political scientists to become better acquainted with the affairs of the Commonwealth.” With the launching of the American Society for Public Administration later in 1939, the Constitution was amended in 1941 to give more specific recognition to public administration as a way of discouraging the establishment of a separate competing state public administration association. In fact, at its annual meeting in 1940, the Association changed its name from the Pennsylvania Political Science Association to the Pennsylvania Political Science and Public Administration Association. Two members of the Public Administration group were subsequently placed on the Executive Council and the program was enlarged to include roundtables on Public Administration. The organizing committee believed it desirable to emphasize state problems at the annual meetings, which were intended to provide opportunities for discussion and contact with Commonwealth officials.

At the business meeting in 1953, the Vice President of the Association, Robert Wray, State Department of Public Welfare, suggested that we should re-examine the reason for the existence of the association and its plans for the future. Political scientists, he pointed out, should learn from people in government what happens in government and what help is needed; for their part, those in government should gain from the theories of the political scientists and be kept informed of the services political scientists are prepared to give. Dr. Wray advocated the seeking of outside funding, perhaps from some foundation, to support such a program if the Association were to define as its purpose the bolstering of the science of government; he also suggested that government agencies should maintain a central staff for aiding colleges and universities in the development of the services which government needs.


Under new business at the Association’s 1960 meeting, Franz B. Gross of Pennsylvania Military College, now Widener University, raised a question as to whether PPS/PPA programs might be broadened to include other than state and local government affairs. President John Ferguson responded that while the Constitution provided that it shall be the purpose of this Association to encourage “scientific investigation and research in the field of government, politics and administration with special reference to the state and local problems of Pennsylvania …” yet the Program Committee was at liberty to develop any type of program which would please the majority of organization members. Returning to the subject of appropriate scope of Association programs Rocco Tressolini of Lehigh University suggested that programs should be provided that would be of interest to all political scientists regardless of their specialty “in order to concern ourselves abut all branches of political science.”

After the establishment of the Northeastern Political Science Association, the question was raised in 1970 as to whether there was any legitimate reason for continuation of the Pennsylvania Association. In the light of a survey of the membership, it was resolved at the 1972 meeting that the PPS/PAA meetings had been “academically and socially worthwhile and the Northeastern Association would be helped by continued activity.”

When, by April of 1973, it became apparent that the primary interest of members was no longer State and Local Government and Public Administration, the Association voted to drop “and Public Administration” from its name. At the Association meetings of the very next year (1974), however, Dr. James Alexander of the University of Pittsburgh expressed concern about dropping “Public Administration” from the title of the Association.

At the time, much of the current research in political science and over 75% of faculty recruitment in the discipline relates to (1) public administration, (2) urban politics and administration, and (3) public policy analysis. I believe that it would be a mistake to exclude these areas from consideration in future Association programs. According to the latest issue of PS, we seem to be the only state association recognizing the roles played by these areas in political science.

But, it is significant that the most recent revision of the Association’s Constitution, recommendations by Mel Kulbicki and Wes McDonald adopted in 1985, retained the original purpose of the organization. The words “research in the field of government, politics and administration, with special reference to the state and local problems of Pennsylvania” are still included in our constitution.


Special Activities


Shortly after its founding, the Association began the publication of an annual newsletter, a practice which finally disappeared somewhere along the way, but was revived at the 1978 meetings. Early in its history, the Association also published an annual state directory of members and others interested in the field. At the Association’s 1940 meetings, James Charlesworth reported that the Research Committee was in the process of preparing a complete bibliography of Pennsylvania publications on state and local government, which would include between 4500 and 5000 items.


In late September, 1957, Henry Holt and Co. published a 120 page study entitled Guide to Pennsylvania Politics written by two members of the Association: Edward F. Cooke of the University of Pittsburgh and G. Edward Janosik of the University of Pennsylvania, both of whom were Directors of Citizenship Clearing House activities in Pennsylvania. The Guide included chapters on party trends, organization, campaigning, finance, conduct of elections, nominating procedures and many other aspects of Pennsylvania politics.

Since 1986, the Association has published its own journal. The story of Commonwealth is recounted in a separate section below.

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Internship Programs

At the Association’s 1951 meeting, members present passed a resolution, introduced by Dr. McKenna, that a committee be appointed to study and implement a plan for an internship program. Dr. Daugherty suggested that the Chair of the Committee should be drawn from college personnel but that the Committee should include government personnel. In reporting on the internship program at the 1955 meetings, Vice President William Hancock moved that “the Association instruct the President to contact the Governor of Pennsylvania to make an appointment when officials of the Association could present him with a proposal to implement an internship program in the government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Presumably this resolution was approved.

At the Association’s 1957 meeting, Prof. Wallace Brewster presented the final report of the Internship Program Committee.  In this connection, Dr. John H. Ferguson, Secretary of Administration in the Governor’s Office, discussed the joint responsibility of the Civil Service Commission and the Office of Administration in the development of an internship training program.  He pointed out that the State had established the classification of Public Administration Trainee with a salary range of from $3,100 to $4,200 and that it was hoped to have ten to twelve trainees from Pennsylvania universities and colleges in the 1957-58 program. Later in 1957 it was reported that the first five public administration trainees in the Commonwealth’s program came from Allegheny College, Dickinson College, Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, and Wilkes College; these students were assigned to the following state agencies: Agriculture, Labor and Industry, State Library, Civil Service Commission, and Public Instruction.


At the plenary session of the 1959 meeting, Forrest L. Schaffer, Assistant Training Coordinator of the Governor’s Office of Administration reported favorably on the results of the State government’s public administration internship program. At the 1960 meetings, Schaffer reported that there were eight trainees enrolled in the Public Administration Trainee Program for 1959-60, representing the following colleges and universities: Alright, Bloomsburg State, Chatham, Gettysburg, Lycoming, Mt. St. Mary’s, and Pennsylvania State. Agencies employing trainees were as follows: The departments of Highways, Property and Supplies, Public Welfare, Public Instruction; The State Civil Service Commission and the Office of Administration.

At the 1961 meeting, Schaffer reported that for the 1960-61 year, three college graduates from Gannon, Misericordia, and Hood Colleges were enrolled in the Public Administration Trainee Program and were employed in the Bureau of Program and Management of the Governor’s Office of Administration. It was explained that the introduction of the Management Trainee Program had cause some decline in the number enrolled in the Public Administration Trainee Program. Adopted by the Association at its 1961 meetings was a resolution (introduced by John Ferguson and seconded by Allen B. Lee) in support of H.B. 56 to provide training programs for the purpose of assuring the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania qualified employees in technical and professional fields requiring special training and experience. In 1962 Dr. Sidney Wise of Franklin and Marshall College announced that enrolled as Public Administration Trainees in the summer of 1961 were three college graduates from Pennsylvania State University, Juniata College, and Tufts University; all three were employed by the Governor’s Office of Administration, two in the Bureau of Personnel and one in the Bureau of Accounts. During the six years since its inception in 1957, twenty-one individuals had completed the program. For all intents and purposes the Public Administration Trainee Program had been merged with the more recently established Management Trainee Program, which demands performance at similar levels of responsibility and proficiency.


Called upon to comment on the Pennsylvania Center for Education in Politics at Franklin and Marshall College, Dr. Wise made the following statement with respect to “academic year internships.”

"State and local internships during the academic year may be given increased emphasis and attention. Many additional possibilities exist for productive internships with party and elected governmental officials and candidates for office. We know that the establishment and supervision of truly educational internships means much careful work on the part of campus representatives. Yet the advantage for students and for academic-political relations are such that we urge you to give, if possible, considerably more attention to these activities."

Dr. Wise indicated that a typical internship proposal receiving support from the Pennsylvania Center for Education in Politics was a six or eight week internship with a candidate for office. For students spending ten hours per week working for the candidate for a six or eight week period, the Pennsylvania Center for Education in Politics would contribute fifty percent of the stipend.


Polity and the Northeastern Political Science Association

At the 1966 meeting of the Association, the Secretary-Treasurer, Charles A. Hollister, announced the receipt of a letter from Dr. William C. Havard, Chairman, Department of Government, University of Massachusetts, which contained the following paragraph:

 "At the spring meeting of the New England Political Science Association a resolution was passed to explore the possibilities of organizing a new political science journal.Among other charges, the resolution stipulated that we should explore the possibility that New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey associations might have an interest in working out some sort of cooperative basis for sponsorship so that the regional basis for launching this venture could be broadened beyond the New England states proper. The members of your Executive Committee have stated that we should explore this mater further.

A majority of those present voted to support a regional journal and Secretary Hollister was instructed to inform the New England and New York Political Science Associations about this action. After the adjournment of the regular meeting, members of the Executive Committee discussed the question of whether there should be created a unitary or federal relationship between the Pennsylvania Political Science Association and the New York and New England Associations. Since differences of opinion were manifested, the matter was laid aside for future discussion and action. It was recommended that Bernard Hennessy serve as the Pennsylvania Political Science and Public Administration Association representative to the New York and New England Associations.

As a result of a meeting held in 1967, it was proposed that the Pennsylvania Political Science and Public Administration Association, in conjunction with the New England and New York Associations, establish a new political science journal to be called Polity. At the Association's annual meeting in 1968, Henry Abraham and William Monat agreed to serve as members of a group of conferees who met in Washington in September 1968 to consider matters relating to the proposed journal. The first issue of Polity was published in the fall of 1968. The first Managing Editor was Prof. Loren Beth of the University of Massachusetts. The Editorial Board consisted of nine members: three from New England, three from New York, and one each from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The Pennsylvania representative was Prof. Bernard C. Hennessy of Pennsylvania State University. Two other members of the Pennsylvania Association (Charles McCoy of Lehigh University and D. Grier Stephenson of Franklin and Marshall College) were added to Polity’s first Editorial Board in November 1973.

At the Pennsylvania Association's 1969 meetings, it was reported that the Political Science Associations of New York, New England and Pennsylvania had been moving slowly but steadily toward some kind of joint operation and perhaps organization. Both the Executive Committee and the general membership voted overwhelmingly in support of this general direction. The first general meeting of the Northeastern Political Science Association was scheduled for November 1969. In 1973 Joseph Peters, President of the Pennsylvania Association, recommended for the office of First Vice President (next in line for the presidency) of the Northeast Political Science Association Eugene Miller of Ursinus College, who for a very long time had been a prime mover in the Pennsylvania Association.



"Best Paper” Awards

At the 1981 meeting, First Vice President (Program Chair) Priscilla Greeley Hopkirk presented the first Pennsylvania Political Science Association “Best Paper” certificate to Sandra Featherman of Temple University and William Rosenberg, now of Drexel University for a paper entitled “Ethnic Voting Patterns Divergent Perspectives in a Local Charter Referendum.” (This type of presentation was inspired by a meeting of representatives of state and regional associations at the 1980 meeting of the American Political Science Association in Washington, D.C.) Since 1981 “Best Paper” certificates have been presented to the following:

James Eisenstein of Pennsylvania State University for a paper entitled “Patterns of Campaign Finance in Pennsylvania’s 1982 Legislative Elections.” (1982)

John Peeler of Bucknell University for paper entitled “Costa Rican Democracy: Pluralism and Class Rule.” (1985)




At the Association's 1984 meetings, the possibility of publishing a journal was discussed at length. It was concluded that sufficient interest and resources existed to make such an undertaking feasible and that a journal would be an asset to the association in terms of prestige and membership attraction. Considered was the possibility of “institutional sponsors" to contribute about $100 each. For the purpose of developing a detailed proposal including an estimate of costs and suggestions for funding, a committee consisting of Donald Tannenbaum (Chair), Z. Irwin, Annette Steigelfest, and M. Roskin was formed. Established in 1985, the first issue of Commonwealth: A Journal of Political Science was released in 1986. This journal publishes articles from among the many subfields and perspectives within the discipline as well as those of an interdisciplinary nature; it encourages scholars studying Pennsylvania state and regional politics and public policy to submit articles. Donald Tannenbaum of Gettysburg College became the Commonwealth’s first editor and Annette Steigelfest of Widener University its first Managing Editor.



Pronouncements on Public Policy Issues

Occasionally the Association has taken a position or expressed concern regarding a public policy issue. For example, in 1956 after a full discussion about the problems of instruction on the secondary-school level, President Roger Wells was instructed to appoint a committee to review this matter with the Superintendent of Public Instruction and report at the 1957 Annual Conference.

At the 1967 luncheon meeting, the following resolution was adopted:

"That the Pennsylvania Political Science and Public Administration Association endorse the principle of the state constitutional convention and strongly recommend that the members, and the citizens of the Commonwealth, work now in behalf of and at the May 16th primary, support the propositions that provide for the modernizing of our state constitution."



Meetings and Administrative Arrangements

With the exception of the war years of 1943, 1944, and 1945 when travel restrictions precluded meetings, the Pennsylvania Political Science Association met in Harrisburg each year from 1939 to 1969. During those years Association meetings were scheduled to coincide with meetings of the new defunct Intercollegiate Conference on Government (ICG), a student organization which, under the auspices of Genevieve Blatt, ran an annual model state legislature. It was convenient for ICG faculty advisors from all over the state to attend the Friday evening dinner meeting of the Pennsylvania Political Science Asociation. These annual meetings were held in either the Harrisburg or Penn Harris Hotels; both of these hotels were needed to accommodate both participants in our meetings and student delegates to ICG. Gathered at the Mayflower Hotel in September of 1959, members of the Executive Committee (John Ferguson, George Blair, John Vanderzell, Roger Well, Alton Kidd) discussed the question of whether the Association should continue to meet with the Intercollegiate Conference on Government; it was argued that many faculty members were expected to spend so much time with their student delegates that they were unable to give the PPS/PPA the time or thought which it deserved. The Executive Committee decided to bring this matter to the full membership at the 1960 meetings, but it was to be another ten years before the Association would disconnect from ICG and leave Harrisburg; in 1970 the Association’s annual meeting was held in Philadelphia at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel. Some of the members present at the 1959 Executive Committee meeting referred to above, believed that we should endeavor to “academize” ourselves by conducting our yearly meetings on college campuses. It was not, however, until 1973 that our first college campus meeting was held at Dickinson College in Carlisle. Other colleges which have hosted our meetings are as follows: Duquesne University of Pittsburgh (1974), Elizabethtown, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg (1989), Juniata, Kings, Penn State (1981), Shippensburg, Ursinus (1988), Widener, York.


For three years prior to our total involvement in World War II, members of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association gathered for an informal breakfast meeting at the time of the American Political Science Association convention, then held in December of each year: 35 present at Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, D.C. (1939); 28 present at Palmer House, Chicago (1940); 26 present at Hotel Pennsylvania, New York (1941). The Palmer House charged $1.03 per plate. At the breakfast meetings of 1940 and 1941, the Pennsylvanians invited as a guest of honor the President Elect of the American Political Science Association, Dr. William Anderson of the Universityof Minnesota and Dr. Frederick Ogg of the University of Wisconsin. In extending his greetings, Dr. Anderson expressed his view that we should approach cautiously the tasks which we propose to do in the war effort (World War II) in order that civilian life might continue without needless sacrifice of talents.

In an effort to stimulate involvement in Association activities of a higher proportion of the Commonwealth’s universities and colleges, at the 1963 meeting Franz B. Gross of Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener) was granted $100 for the purpose of setting up a regional meeting in the Philadelphia area as a pilot project. One regional meeting was held at Pennsylvania Military College, but support was insufficient to justify further experimentation.


Through the years both total membership and attendance at annual meetings has fluctuated widely. At the first annual meeting (April 21, 1939) at Harrisburg’s Penn Harris Hotel, twenty-seven members, one speaker, two wives and two guests enjoyed dinner at the great cost of $1.50 per plate. The next year (1940), the number of members attending jumped form twenty-seven to fifty-seven; meals cost $1.25 for dinner and $1.00 for lunch. In 1952 seventy political scientists, public administrators and guests were recorded. Since 1981 numbers in attendance have been expanded by invitations issued to students. (It was recorded that the Third Annual Student Conference of the Pennsylvania Political Association met at Washington and Jefferson College in April of 1984.) In recent years of total membership has averaged while attendance at annual meetings has ranged from [the text breaks off here]

Consistently over the years dues have remained very low. For twenty years (1939-1959) yearly dues were $2.00 as set by the original constitution. At the 1958 meetings, members approved unanimously a motion introduced by William D. Willis and seconded by Ralph D. Tive to amend Article III, Section I of the Association’s constitution to set the annual membership dues at $3.00 to become effective in 1959. The most recent revisions of the constitution in 1985 included removing the set dues provisions, but the current dues are a modest $5.00. Peter Mayer of St. Francis College (Loretto) said in 1973: “Thank you for the dues circular; particularly for the ‘absurdly low dues.' Organizations like these should be cherished.”




Over the years programs have included the usual panels of paper presenters and discussants, round-table discussions, and after dinner or luncheon addresses. A sampling of speakers and topics follows:

Dr. M. Louis Rutherford, Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania on “changing local/state/federal relations” (1949)

Hermann A. Lowe, Esq., Washington newspaper correspondent on “Things I was Taught about American Government at College that Aren’t so” (1949)

Dr. Edgar B. Cole, Moderator of the University of Pennsylvania on “Present Challenges to Political Scientists” (1952). In order to bring to students the realities of politics, he urged the use in the classroom of new instruments for rendering information such as television and tape recordings.

Hugh Scott, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania on “Congress and the Political Parties”. (1961)

Robert Novak, author of The Agony of the GOP, 1964 on the subject of his book. (1965)

Ralph K. Huitt, Assistant Secretary for Legislation, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (on leave from University of Wisconsin) on “Congress: The View from Downtown”. (1966)

Ralph Widener, Executive Director of the Appalachian Regional Commission on “Appalachia: An Experiment in Creative Federalism”. (1966)

Robert Sidman, Executive Director, A Modern Constitution for Pennsylvania, Inc. on a subject related to the title of his organization. (1967)

John Ferguson, Professor of Political Science at Penn State University on “The History of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association”. (1974)

Roger Wells, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania on “The Crisis in Central America”. (1983)

Richard Joslyn, Professor of Political Science, Temple University on “Politics and the Media”. (1984)

Tom DeWall, Director of Harrisburg Office of Common Cause on “Reapportionment in Pennsylvania”. (1982)

Raymond Schaeffer, Governor of Pennsylvania (date uncertain)

Harry Bailey of Temple University on “Black Politics” (date uncertain)

Prior to the 1965 meetings, consideration was given to inviting former Vice President Richard Nixon, to address the Association on “the Democratic proclivities of political scientists.” Apparently nothing came of this suggestion. Examples of round-table discussions are as follows:

In 1952 James C. Charlesworth, Institute of Local and State Government, University of Pennsylvania coordinated a panel consisting of Dr. Murray Stedman of Swarthmore College, Dr. Ruth Silva of Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Hugo Mailey of Wilkes College, and Dr. Elmer D. Graper, Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. In discussing the selection of delegates, Dr. Stedman concluded that the decentralization and fragmentation resulting from the method of selection rendered both presidential primaries and the conventions themselves less accurate reflectors of public will in the choice of candidates than public opinion polls. Dr. Silva answered the question: “Are instructions meaningful?” with an emphatic “No.” In discussing various devices for instructing delegates, she pointed out the ineffectiveness of binding convention action. In answering the question: “Is the third ballot crucial?” Dr. Mailey sated that ordinarily a candidate who is to win must be gaining on the third ballot; he doubted that prolonged balloting was likely at future conventions (an accurate prediction). Dr. Graper concluded that the convention is not supposed to be a deliberative body, but rather an instrument for the achievement of compromise within the party. “Therefore,” said Dr. Graper, “a national convention should not be condemned for being what it is supposed to be.”

In 1970 a round-table on urban politics was held. The two discussants were John W. Hopkirk, Chair of Liberal Arts Division, Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener) and Frank Colon, Professor of Political Science, Lehigh University.

In 1981 a round-table on “The Rule-Making Process in Pennsylvania – Past, Present, and Future” coordinated by Lloyd W. Woodruff of Pennsylvania State University and a panel devoted to a discussion of “Political Socialization and Psychology.”

In 1986 the round-table topic was “the United States Constitution.”

In 1988 the round-table topic was the “primary elections.”

At the Association’s 1978 meeting, a new program feature was added: “A Short Course Workshop: Using Setups to Teach Political Science,” sponsored by the Division of Education Affairs of the American Political Science Association. Since that date at a number of our meetings, computer-related workshops have been featured.


PPSA Records

At the Association’s 1955 meetings, R. Jean Brownlee’s request that another place for storing records be provided provoked a discussion about the records which were scattered in various personal files. Vice-President Hancock suggested that following completion of W. Brooke Graves “history of the Association” that the records should be “disposed of with discretion.” The somewhat sketchy nature of this history is evidence of a continuing record keeping problem.



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