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AIS: Genesis of the Sections: Passion, Friendship, and Self-Reliance

From: HIPSource@aol.com

In a message dated 12/9/99 7:52:05 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
PatrickJOrr@hotmail.com writes:

<< A conspiracy would suggest that AIS started out with the intention of 
having sections as being separate.  I doubt that is true.>>

From the Golden Anniversary Edition of the AIS Bulletin, January, 1970, 
Marion R. Walker, President 1956-59, speaking in his essay " Reminiscences 
1953-59", p. 32ff, passim. The passage picks up from a discussion of rapid 
growth and institutional change in AIS during the period following the grim 
hiatus of WWII.

"In a time of rapid growth there is bound to be a broadening of interest in a 
subject. This was true about our membership at that time. In the past, most 
of the interest among the members had been centered on the tall bearded 
varieties of irises. The awards, the Bulletin, the shows, and other ativities 
emphasized the tall bearded class, with little interest in the development of 
other cultivars. Now attitudes were beginning to change. Members were 
reaching out into new fields of challenge. A Spuria Club was formed in 
Houston, Texas, in late 1952. An invitation appeared in the April 1953 
Bulletin to form an Intermediate Club. This invitation culminated in the 
formation of the Median Iris Society in 1954."  [There follows a detailed 
discussion of AIS activities regarding cytological and color classification 
of the Genus and the development of the system of classification in use 
today, along with the Society's acceptance of the responsibility of acting as 
the Internatioinal Registration Authority for all Irises, except bulbous, 
throughout the world.] "The activity related to classificaton and awards 
brought a growing need for special interest groups related to the various 
classes of irises. Some clubs already had formed, as the Society for 
Louisiana Irises, the Dwarf Iris Society, the Median Iris Society, and the 
Aril Society. The Board of Directors set about discussing ways and means of 
encouraging these special interest societies, and yet maintaining a way in 
which all iris interests could be contained in one organization. The result 
of this study was the development of the sectional relationship to the 
Society which we have today." [Another development in this period of growth 
was the appearance of the Robin Program, officially established in 1956, to 
meet other needs of the members.]

From the 75th Anniversary Issue of the Bulletin, May, 1995.

Jim Morris speaks:" In a time not so long ago there began a movement. In 1953 
Geddes Douglas, AIS Bulletin Editor, "took steps to bring together iris 
growers interested in small irises." And then, under the heading of a 
Lilliput Iris Club, he sent a letter on July 8 1954, to a list of 134 people 
he proposed to consititute the Charter Membership of what was first known as 
the Median iris Club(1955) and then the Median Iris Society (1957). Most 
members in those days before Interstate highways and the wide availability of 
televison, relied on radio, newspapers, telephones and letter writing as 
thier means of communication. In AIS Robins were King. This grouping together 
by Mr. Douglas of assorted Robin members into an organization was indicative 
of wide spread interest in small irises. This prompted him to editorialize 
"No longer can it be said that this is the American Tall Bearded Iris 
Society." With the sanction of the AIS Board of Directors, the Median Iris 
Society was first affiliated in April 1957 and then became the first official 
Section of AIS in May, 1960.....To this day Sections are listed on page one 
of the AIS Bulletin in the order in which they were chartered!
The SSI team of Carl Lanklow, Currier McEwen, Anna Mae Miller, Lorena Reid, 
Harold Stahley, D. Stever Varner, and Jean Witt contributed: " As a result of 
interest in Siberians, The Society for Siberian Irises was organized in 1960. 
Peg Edwards orginally came up with the idea and, with the help of Bee 
Warburton, got things going. The Society serves to bring together persons who 
are interested in ...these irises and to provide communication among such 
persons.The Society is now a section of the American Iris Society... In 1993 
the Society for Siberian Irises held its first national convention."

Tom Abrego writing: " The Spuria Iris Society was founded in 1952 in Houston 
TX to promote Spuria Iris, maintain a test garden and to sponsor 
research....As interest in Spuria iris was rapidly growing, the Spuria Iris 
Society...made two important decisions. First it was felt that leadership in 
the Society had to reflect a wider geographic scope than Houston. Secondly, 
the Society wanted to upgrade its relationship with the American Iris 
Society. The Spuria Iris Society held its first annual meeting in conjunction 
with the American Iris Society at the AIS 1959 National Convention in 
Oklahoma City, with President Ben Hager of Modesto, CA presiding."

John Coble writing:" SJI was accepted as a Section of the American Iris 
Society in 1962. It was first published as a Section of AIS in the January 
1963 Bulletin. The 60 Charter Members had founded a society to 'foster the 
culture, apprciation, breeding and distribution of Japanese irises and 
hybrids invoving these irises.'....The energy that brought about the 
formation of SJI and its acceptance by AIS was the interest in Japanese iris 
and fellowship that developed between Bee Warburton, Eleanor Westmeyer, Arlie 
Payne, Bob Swearengen, Bill Ouweneel, and Art Hazzard....From their neighbors 
and friends in local iris societies, their energy and excitement and 
willingness to help and share became infectious. From their writings in 
various Robins, many AIS members became aware of their sincere interests. 
They soon brought their knowledge and experience to an eager audience at the 
section meetings at AIS conventions."

John Weiler writing:"As more hybridizers became involved, the iris growing 
public became more aware of rebloom and this led to the formation of The 
Reblooming Iris Society in 1962 with its publication, the Reblooming Iris 
Reporter, now renamed the Rebloooming Iris Recorder. Sectional status as an 
affiliate of AIS was granted in 1967."

Erik Tankesley-Clark writing:" It is impossible to mention the beginnings of 
the Dwarf Iris Society without Walter Welch...The Society was formed in 1950, 
and Walter Welch of Middlebury [Indiana] was a leading light there for many 
years. Virtually alongside him worked Paul Cook, who showed the way for 
imbuing the entire bearded race with qualities uniquely available from the 
dwarf irises."     

[Although the Pacific Coast Irises receive very considerable attention in 
this Bulletin the contributors on this subject did not address the formation 
of SPCI, but see SIGNA below.]

Compiled from contributions from Roy Davison, Richard Kiyomoto, Carla Lanklow 
and Bruce Richardson: "It was way back around the year 1953 when a group of 
AIS members, who had a common interst in species iris, started corresponding 
by robins. By 1966 this group led by Species Robin Chairman Roy Davidson had 
grown to eight robins with 75 participants. Over the next two years plans 
were made to form a Species Study Group under the wing of the AIS Scientific 
Commitee...In November 1967, six months before the first SIGNA publication, 
Ruth Hardy put together the first Species Seed Exchange. This was an idea 
that fitted well with the aims of the group to spread knowledge of iris 
species by growing them. The first seedlist had gone to whomever among the 
AIS membership had asked for it...The first opportunity for an actual meeting 
and day long tour came at the Berkely AIS Convention in April, 1969....At the 
1972 Portland AIS Convention two display gardens, filled with generous clumps 
from member's gardens, showed the range of beardless irises that could be 
grown in virtually any backyard...The strong showing at the 1972 convention 
helped convince the AIS board to approve SIGNA as an AIS section....Almost 
simultaneously ...those interested in PCIs were organizing their own group. 
By the following March the Society for Pacific Coast native Irises had also 
been approved as an AIS Section."

Anne Lowe and Larry Doucette speak: "The Historic Iris Preservation Society  
(HIPS) was fonded in 1988 by a group of dedicated irisarians who understood 
the importance of preserving our iris heritage. HIPS is the newest Section in 
AIS and because of the unique objectives inaugurated by them, the society has 
an extremely fast growing and widespread global membership...Also, due to the 
uniqueness of the Society, it encompasses cultivars of all the other AIS 
Sections. "

Marie Caillet speaks: "The Society for Louisiana Irises was organized in the 
spring of 1941 by a handful of interested iris growers an a few early 
collectors of the native species found in South Louisiana. One of their main 
objectives was to bring attention to these beautiful flowers. Althought the 
real workers in the Society were few during the early years, an ambitious 
course was set. Annual meetings...collecting trips to the swamps, and 
elaborately staged shows were held. Over the years these meetings 
continued...Many innovations were started, such as a the arrangement with AIS 
for a top award for Louisiana irises...A milestone was reached in 1993 when 
the Society for Louisiana Irises became a Cooperating Society of the American 
Iris Society. Although always cooperating, they are now officially recognized 
as a part of AIS with a scheduled program at the National Convention." 

[Speakers for the Aril Society International, also an AIS Cooperating 
Society, spoke to hybridizing, but see Walker's essy above.]

Anner Whitehead
"Conspiricy theories are the muscatel of the mind."


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