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Journal of Accountancy at age 90.

This is the 1,080th edition of the Journal of Accountancy, the publication that was created to "represent, in the best and broadest sense, the interests of the accountancy profession" in the United States. Skimming through nine decades of magazines reveals the myriad ways the Journal has done that. Space constraints, however, restrict our acknowledgment of the Journal's 90th birthday to looking at the November issues of only three years - 1905, 1955 and 1995.

1905. The editors of the Journal, which was published under the auspices of the American Association of Public Accountants (a forerunner of the American Institute of CPAs), announced that the launching of the magazine marked "the beginning of a movement which has for its object the establishment of accountancy in law and opinion as a learned profession."

The first editors were Joseph French Johnson, dean of the New York University School of Commerce, Accounts and Finance, and Edward Sherwood Meade, director of the University of Pennsylvania Evening School of Accounts and Finance, whose daughter, Margaret, became the famous anthropologist.

The first editorial described their task as a special one, since "accountancy has never had a voice in the United States. Heretofore its hopes and ideals have found fugitive utterance only in lost pamphlets and forgotten addresses. Now it is to speak regularly, wisely and consistently in the Journal of Accountancy, and the editors must be the medium through which the right words are spoken. We shall fail unless you help us."

The U.S. accounting profession was then in its infancy; the AAPA - with 601 fellows, associates and honorary members - was established in 1887. By 1905, though, the U.S. profession had a clear sense of what was needed to achieve professionalism. According to the Journal's first issue, that included legal recognition by all states, university education, compulsory audits of corporate accounts and a body of accounting literature.

The first Journal was 98 pages, nearly 60% of which covered four seminal issues - the education and training of CPAs, the duties and responsibilities of the public accountant, professional standards and the scope of the profession of accountancy - all of which are still important issues today. There was no advertising, but the ad rates were prominently set forth: $20 a page, with 25% additional for special positions. A year's subscription cost $3 and a single issue, $0.25.

1955. The Journal reviewed the profession's progress in its 50th anniversary issue. Advertising constituted 36% of the 108-page magazine, which had gone up $0.50 to $0.75 per issue and cost subscribers $7 a year. In that semicentennial issue, eight accounting leaders offered their views on the state of the profession and the prospects for its future regarding public practice, auditing, financial reporting, taxes, advisory services, management accounting, education and ethics.

One of the likely agents of change, noteworthy even then, was technology. Here's what the author of "Accounting in Management" (Joel Hunter, president of the Crucible Steel Company of America and a former partner of Haskins & Sells) said about the "sudden growth of electronic data-handling machines":

"Management - and accountants - now have resources for recording, computing, listing, and summarizing financial data [that] are little short of magical.... The period of days or weeks between the closing of the books might be sharply reduced practically to the vanishing point. Standard cost may be changed, inventories may be computed, jobs [that] required hundreds and thousands of man-hours may now be completed in a very few hours or over a weekend.... It may well become possible to produce daily income statements and balance sheets fresh each morning by a little machine time the night before."

1995. The subjects in this issue of the Journal reflect some of the topics currently of concern to CPAs - technology (which has revolutionized the workplace and is likely to have even more jolts in store for CPAs), the "new finance," tax reform and not-for-profit accounting.

A year's subscription costs $54 and a single issue, $7. Advertising, which comprises 42% of this 112-page issue, and non-AICPA member subscription revenue make significant contributions to the AICPA bottom line.

Nine chief editors, along with full editorial staffs, have followed co-editors Johnson and Meade - educators who worked on the Journal part-time. Although many things have changed in 90 years, including leaps in the Journal's circulation from a few hundred in 1905 to 360,000 today (see some milestones above), the commitment of each of the Journal's editors has remained unwavering - to provide a forum where members of the profession can speak and to ensure the right words are spoken.

Journal

Circulation

Milestones

1915 4,900 1935 7,500 1955 86,000 1970 138,000 1980 243,000 1985 279,000 1995 360,000
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Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Shildneck, Barbara J.
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Nov 1, 1995
Words:782
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