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This Month in ASA’s History–March

1 March 2014 No Comment


The ASA seal first appears on the cover of the Journal of the American Statistical Association. It was not officially adopted by the ASA Board of Directors until 1937, and its meaning was still undefined at that time. In 1997, ASA member Bill Heavlin conducted a search to uncover that the pillar is an axis mundi, representing orderliness. The bald eagle represents America, spirit, and intellect. The snakes appear to be part of a Greek myth about the caduceus, the wing-tipped staff given to Mercury by Apollo. Shortly after receiving the caduceus, Mercury slammed the staff between two quarreling snakes. The presence of the snakes possibly represents peace, resolution of argument, and triumph of rationality.


In celebration of the ASA’s centenary, the March 1940 issue of the Journal of the American Statistical Association included historical exhibits, the program and proceedings of the anniversary dinner meeting, and an article by Frederick Stephen: “The Centenary of the American Statistical Association.” The issue is online through JSTOR.


On March 22, 1951, members and friends of Walter Willcox gathered at Cornell University to celebrate his 90th birthday. Among the many attending were Edmond Ezra Day and Liberty Hyde Bailey. Willcox read a scholarly address, titled “The Dis-United Nations: A Novel Experiment in the Balance of Power,” and was presented with a “handsome desk clock.”


During the March board meeting, members of the Executive Committee approved the title of the student magazine STATS: The Magazine for Students of Statistics. The first issue appeared in January 1989 under the editorial leadership of John Hewett.

Famous March Birthdays

David Freedman, Walter Shewhart, Jack Wolfowitz, Walter F. Willcox

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