History

Society of Professional JournalistsHistory of the Society

From the SPJ website

Founded: SPJ was founded in 1909 at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., as a journalistic fraternity known as Sigma Delta Chi. In 1988, the organization officially changed its name to the Society of Professional Journalists.

Membership: SPJ is a professional organization that includes broadcast, print and online journalists, journalism educators , and students interested in journalism as a career.

Tax-exempt status: The Society is a not-for-profit organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)6 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Historic Moments

1909
Founded as Sigma Delta Chi on DePauw University Campus, Greencastle, Ind.

1910
Campus chapters founded at University of Kansas, University of Michigan, and Denver University

1912
First National Convention, Greencastle, Ind.

First Quill published, 20 pages in a 6×9 inch format

1913
First Wells Key award presented to Laurence Sloan

1916
Change from Honorary Fraternity to Professional Fraternity

1921
First professional chapters in Milwaukee, Seattle, Detroit, Des Moines, and Chicago.

1926
First Code of Ethics adopted.

1928
First National Headquarters opens, 836 Exchange Ave., Chicago, Ill.

1935
SDX Awards started as Distinguished Service Awards.

1942
First historic site in journalism marked by SDX, Vermont Gazette, Bennington, Vt.

1948
First fellowships awarded to Erwin Canham, Barry Faris, and Harry Grant.
Outstanding Pro Chapter recognized, Fort Worth, Texas

1959
Fifty-year convention, Indianapolis

1960
Sigma Delta Chi reorganized from a fraternity to a professional society
Regional system established with 11 regions

1961
First full-time Quill editor, Clarence Schlaver

1966
Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award first given to A.L. Higginbotham, University of Nevada

1969
Decision to admit women made at San Diego convention. Two days later, 10 women were initiated into the St. Bonaventure Chapter

1970
Student representatives added to board structure

1971
Caroline Ross Pokrzywinski, first woman elected to the board

1972
Mark of Excellence awards established

1973
Organization name changed to Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi

New Code of Ethics adopted

First Outstanding Campus Chapter recognized, University of Illinois

1975
First Amendment Award given to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

1978
Pulliam Fellowship first awarded to Ross MacKenzie, Richmond, Va., News-Leader

1979
First female president elected, Jean Otto

First Distinguished Campus Advisers named: Paul Atkins, West Virginia University; Merrill Bankester, Memphis State University; James Highland, Western Kentucky University; Robert Warner, University of Wyoming

1982
Project Watchdog initiated. It began as a public service advertising campaign aimed at educating the public about the free press in America

1983
Barney Kilgore FOI Internship first awarded to Sharon Applebaum, University of Kansas and David Freedman, Columbia University

1984
Seventy-five year Convention, Indianapolis
Code of Ethics revision

1987
Code of Ethics revision

1988
Name changed to Society of Professional Journalists.

1990
National headquarters moved to Greencastle, Ind.

1991
Project Sunshine started. A grassroots effort aimed at maintaining open records and open meetings laws in accord with the 1976 Government in the Sunshine Act

1996
New Code of Ethics adopted
2000
National Headquarters moved to Indianapolis.

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