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HomeHistory & Formation


History and Formation

The OSSC celebrated its 60th anniversary at its June 8, 2011 meeting. The meeting was presided over by outgoing President Valentina Doushkina and newly elected President Scott Rowe. Bob Cartland made a presentation about the Establishment of the OSSC. Historian & OSSC Fellow Tom Godfrey was the Master of Ceremonies and graciously encouraged all attending past presidents to make interesting remarks about their OSSC experience.
The Optical Society of Southern California held its first meeting on September 26, 1951. Formal organization was completed on March 25, 1952, when its articles of incorporation were approved by the California Secretary of State. On June 4, 1952, the OSSC was recognized as the eighth Local Section of the Optical Society of America.  

The excerpt below is from the Local Section News article appearing at the end of the Journal of the Optical Society of America (1917-1983), Vol. 42, Iss. 9, Sep. 1, 1952, p 692.  In 1984, the journal was divided topically into the current JOSA A and JOSA B.  The complete article includes information about the formation of both the seventh Local Section of the OSA in Southwestern Connecticut and the eighth Local Section in Southern California.  A complete pdf version of the article, along with the issues book reviews, technical notes and meeting calendar, is available by clicking the link below.
The complete pdf excerpt also contains several other interesting items including an assessment of the potential benefits and hazards associated with "tinted optical media".  Apparently, sunglasses were a new product in 1952!

Local Section News


Edited by Stanley S. Ballard, Secretary for Local Sections, Optical Society of America


Southern California Section


    As long ago as the winter of 1949-1950 there was correspondence between Dr. W. E. Williams of Pasadena and Dean G. R. Harrison concerning the fact that the Pacific Coast should indeed have a local optical group to serve the many persons in that region who are involved in the theoretical and applied aspects of optics. Organizational activities got underway in the greater Los Angeles area in the fall of 1950, thanks to the efforts of Eugene K. Thorburn and Felix Bednarz of the Northrop Optical Laboratory in Pasadena. Henry A. Knoll of the Los Angeles College of Optometry was about to proceed along similar lines when he heard of the other activities, and so the two efforts were pooled. Appropriately enough, Thorburn and Knoll are both alumni of the University of Rochester's Institute of Optics.

     In February, 1951, 125 circular letters and return post cards were sent out to sample the amount and the nature of optical interest in southern California. The results were sufficiently encouraging so that an organizing committee was formed in June, which committee included the three men just named plus Armin J. Hill and Howard Cary. The first meeting, called by this committee for September 26, was attended by about 90 persons, thereby amply confirming the hopes of the organizers. At the second meeting, on November 7, an equally large number attended and temporary officers were elected: Howard Cary as President, Armin J. Hill as Vice-President, Felix Bednarz as Secretary, and Eugene Thorburn as Treasurer. Also, three counselors were elected: Ira S. Bowen, W. Ewart Williams, and Walter Wallin. The third meeting was held on December 5, the fourth on January 3, 1952, the fifth on February 6, and the sixth on March 5, with attendance continuing near the 100 mark.




    The formal organization of the Optical Society of Southern California was completed on March 25, 1952, when its articles of incorporation were approved by the California Secretary of State. The society met on April 10 at the U. S. Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, heard several technical presentations, and made a tour of the Michelson Laboratory. The last meeting of the year was held on June 11, jointly with the Instrument Society of America (California Section), at the Corona Laboratories of the National Bureau of Standards, and was attended by over 200 persons.

    As a result of a formal petition received from the Optical Society of Southern California, this group was accepted as the eighth local section of the Optical Society of America. Unfortunately, the Secretary for Local Sections could not arrange a visit to California so as to perform the usual official installation at a regular group meeting. However, these formalities were concluded at a dinner meeting held in Los Angeles on July 17 and attended by the officers, directors, and committee chairmen of the local group. The traditional gavel was presented to Howard Cary, who turned it over to the newly-elected president, Armin J. Hill. Other officers elected at the annual business meeting of May 6 to serve for the coming year are Eugene Thorburn as Vice President, Reed C. Lawlor as Secretary, and Michael E. Stickney as Treasurer. The three counsellors were re-elected, and J. W. Kemp was appointed Program Chairman.

    The Southern California Section presently has over 100 paid-up members; in the usual fashion of California activities it will doubtless continue to grow, and at a rapid rate. It can be expected to contribute to the intellectual life of its members, and to serve effectively as our westernmost American center of organized optics.


Excerpt from the Journal of the Optical Society of America Vol. 42, Iss. 9, Sep. 1, 1952, p 692.


Corporate Address:  14271 Jeffrey Road, Suite 136
Irvine, California 92620
The OSSC is a non-profit 501(C)3 tax exempt corporation.
The OSSC does NOT endorse candidates for public office or contribute to political candidates or campaigns.

Updated: 4 September 2020
Added 8 September VOSA Meeting