May 2013
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Looking Back at 70 Years of ASTD

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Looking Back at 70 Years of ASTD

During its 70th anniversary year, the society examines how far it has come and where it's headed in the future.

Seven decades. The world is a vastly different place today than it was in 1943, and so is the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

As ASTD celebrates 70 years of service to the training and development profession, we note that despite many important developments that have occurred in the world, there remains a consistency of purpose for the work of this society.

In 1943, when 15 men gathered for the first meeting of the American Society of Training Directors, the world was embroiled in World War II; Duke Ellington played at Carnegie Hall for the first time; and the world's first computer, Mark I, a behemoth that occupied an entire room at Harvard University, was nearing the end of its development, which began in 1939.

Three years later, in 1946, a constitution was adopted at ASTD's conference in New Castle, Pennsylvania. The stated goals were to raise the standards and prestige of the industrial training profession, and to further the training professional's education and development.

Today, in the age of technology-driven advancements and with a membership that spans the globe, ASTD's mission statement is not so different from those original stated goals: Empower professionals to develop knowledge and skills successfully. This mission points to ASTD's broader vision that our global community of professionals aspires to "Create a World that Works Better."

In celebration of ASTD's history, here is a brief reflection—ASTD then and now.



1943: American Society of Training Directors holds its first meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Fifteen men—all associated with the petroleum industry—attend.

1964: American Society of Training Directors changes its name to the American Society for Training and Development.


2013: ASTD comprises 39,000 members from around the globe who work in all industries, and both the public and private sectors.


As the society continued to grow and support the industrial training industry, it was necessary for the organization to have a permanent home.


1951: ASTD opens its first permanent office in Madison, Wisconsin, the hometown of Russell Moberly, the secretary-treasurer who kept all of the records at the time.

1975: ASTD opens a branch office in Washington, D.C. The society has engaged with the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide training resources to several foreign countries. Having a presence in the nation's capital is a strategic decision.

1981: ASTD moves its headquarters to Washington, D.C., and in 1985 relocates to Alexandria, Virginia.


2013: ASTD populates nearly three floors at its current location on King Street in Alexandria, Virginia.


Keeping abreast of the training profession's news, research, trends, and best practices has been an important part of ASTD's offerings to its members. For more than 65 years, the award-winning T+D magazine has heralded and even led the evolution of the profession from a focus on industrial training to an expanded view of learning as a key driver of business—with the purpose to deliver to its readers the emerging trends and proven best practices.

Since its debut in 1945 as Industrial Training News, what is now called T+D magazine has chronicled the issues and ideas, and the pains and passions of a growing profession.


1945: The first issue of ASTD's quarterly membership publication, Industrial Training News, is published.

1947: Industrial Training News changes its name to Journal of Industrial Training and becomes bimonthly.

1954: The Journal of Industrial Training changes its name to Journal of the American Society of Training Directors and publishes Donald L. Kirkpatrick's articles establishing four levels of evaluation for training.

1963: Journal of the American Society of Training Directors changes its name to Training Directors Journal.

1966: Training Directors Journal changes its name to Training and Development Journal.

1991: Training and Development Journal becomes Training & Development.

2001: Training & Development becomes T+D.


2013: T+D, ASTD's flagship member publication, reaches more than 40,000 readers and keeps training professionals abreast of the news and trends in the industry. The magazine is available digitally and via apps for iPad, Android tablets, and the Kindle.


Bringing training and development professionals together to learn from and share with one another has long been part of ASTD's history. Held each spring, the ASTD International Conference & Exposition welcomes thousands of attendees from around the world. These professionals manage all aspects of learning in their organizations.



1945: American Society of Training Directors holds its first national conference September 27-28 in Chicago.

1967: The first major exposition is held with the national conference.

1994: The first international conference is held in Anaheim, California.


2013: The ASTD International Conference & Exposition is considered the premier event for the training and development profession and regularly attracts 9,000 people from more than 70 countries.

ASTD also hosts smaller conferences outside of the United States. In 2012 conferences and workshops were held in Brazil, Chile, China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.


For 70 years the focus of ASTD's efforts has been to provide resources to its members. What started as a small group of "training men" has grown to a worldwide membership.


1943: Fifteen men gather in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to form the American Society for Training Directors

1952: ASTD membership reaches 1,600, and there are 32 ASTD chapters in existence.

1968: Membership reaches 7,400. There are 65 chapters.

1978: Membership reaches 15,300. There are members in 50 countries.

1988: Membership reaches 24,500.


2013: Membership reaches 39,000. There are 120 chapters and 15 international partners. Members come from six continents.

About the Author

Kristen Fyfe-Mills is the director of employee development and engagement at Farmer Focus, an innovative organization with the fastest-growing poultry brand in the US. In her role, she supports nearly 900 team members, from front-line hourly associates to the executive team. Before joining Farmer Focus, Kristen served in many roles at the Association for Talent Development, culminating in her position as director of marketing and strategic communications.

Kristen holds two master’s degrees, one in pastoral and spiritual care from Marymount University and the other in journalism from Northwestern University. She serves on the advisory board for Shenandoah University’s Transformative Leadership program. She is the mom of two exceptional humans, and she and her husband Doug live in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

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