SGS History

The History of SGS

The Southern Gerontological Society had its roots in the Southern Conference on Gerontology. This informal organization, founded in 1951 under the leadership of staff from the University of Florida's Institute on Gerontology, was comprised of pioneer individuals interested in and concerned with aging issues. This organization was the first regional and one of the first national aging interest groups organized in the United States. It was organized ten years before the Handbook of Social Gerontology was published and fourteen years before the Older Americans Act of 1965 was enacted.

The Western Gerontological Society (now the American Society on Aging) was formed in 1954 and hired a paid staff in 1970. Many of those working in the Southern Conference wanted to see the same type of organization formed for the Southern constituency. On March 28, 1978, thirty-four of these individuals met at their own expense in Gainesville, Florida. They conducted a workshop to propose a plan of organization that could be presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Southern Conference that was scheduled for May, 1979 in St. Petersburg, Florida. At this workshop they voted to organize sessions for the new Southern Gerontological Society. The following persons were elected as chairpersons for the committees to carry out this plan:

  • Bylaws: Tom Rich, University of South Florida
  • Membership: Lorin Baumhover, University of Alabama
  • Meeting: Barbara Payne, Georgia State University
  • Executive: Gordon Streib, University of Florida

In July of 1978, the planning meeting for the 1979 Southern Conference was attended by attendees of the March meeting and the newly-formed Executive Committee. These individuals voted to convene a session presenting the relationship between educational institutions in gerontology and service organizations, including state units and area agencies on aging.

Further planning sessions were held in Dallas, Texas at the November 1978 meeting of the Gerontological Society and in Washington at the meeting of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. These planning sessions led to the first election of officers and the birth of the Southern Gerontological Society (SGS). The first officers were:

  • President: Barbara Payne, Georgia State University
  • Vice President: Priscilla Perry, University of Miami
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Lorin A. Baumhover, University of Alabama

As with the Southern Conference, SGS membership was not limited by geographical boundaries, and twenty states were represented in the membership. The theme of the first annual meeting in 1980 was "Aging in the South-Cooperation for Tomorrow." In the first two years, membership grew from 60 to 600.

In 1982, SGS envisioned the need for a new scholarly journal and became committed to publishing articles dealing with timely applied problems and issues in aging. SGS entered the field of journal sponsorship with the Journal of Applied Gerontology, reflecting cooperation of and interaction between practitioners and researchers.

SGS - A 40 Year Celebration

This compilation video features illustrations of SGS's Past Presidents, along with snapshots taken from the SGS Archives held in Special Collections at the Belk Libary at Appalachian State University. This video was shown during the 2019 40th Ruby Anniversary Conference of the Southern Gerontological Society at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort on April 10, 2019.

SGS Records, 1975-2011

The Special Collections at Belk Library, Appalachian State University, has more information.