|From History of The Society for Organic Petrology by Brian J. Cardott, Renee L. Symanski, and James C. Hower, TSOP Newsletter 13 (3), p. 8-10, 1996, with additions and updates from other sources as noted.
In order to know where we are going, it is useful to refer back to where we have been. The forerunner of The Society for Organic Petrology was the North American Coal Petrographers (NACP), an informal group that met occasionally (every one to three years, with a maximum of four times in 1962) to discuss mutual problems. The first meeting was held on March 12, 1956, at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh. The organization's name changed several times, beginning as "Eastern American Anthracologists," with later names of "American Coal Petrographers" and "American Anthracologists," until finalizing on North American Coal Petrographers in 1967. The 25th and final meeting of NACP was in Merrillville, Indiana, on November 16-18, 1983. A list of NACP meetings and the organization session agenda of the first meeting were included in the abstracts volume (Cardott et al., 1996).
Planning for a new formal organization for organic petrologists began in 1983, on the initiative of Pieter van Gijzel, by a group of organic petrographers, coal petrologists, organic geochemists, and Palynologists in Houston known as the "Houston Committee for Organic Petrography" and later known as the "Organizing Committee for Organic Petrology." The Committee consisted of Pieter van Gijzel (chairperson), Jack D. Burgess, John R. Castaño, Brenda Claxton, John A. Clendening, Richard W. Harding, H.B. Lo, Dolores O'Connor, Raymond N. Pheifer, Margaret Hildick-Pytte, Ann Brooke Reaugh, Coleman R. Robison, Roger Sassen, Helmut Schares, Karl Schwab, John Shane, Jesse D. Yeakel, and Harvey Zeiss. These individuals were presented Founder Awards at the 1994 TSOP Annual Meeting. (Cardott et al., 1996) The group saw a need for a formal organization that would address mutual problems, such as the standardization of techniques (e.g., fluorescence microscope-photometry), improvement of preparation techniques and identification of drilling mud additives, classification systems for types of organic matter, origin of vitrinite, and the preservation and depositional environments of kerogen (Cardott et al., 1996).
Two questionnaires were sent to approximately 900 members of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists (AASP), North American Coal Petrographers, selected organic geochemists, and others personally known, to inquire (1) professional activity, (2) support of a new organization for organic petrography, (3) options for an umbrella organization, and (4) plans to attend a founding meeting. Eighty-eight percent of the 260 replies supported a new organization. (Cardott et al., 1996) On page one of the first Newsletter, Editor Margaret Hildick wrote: "The organization began as an informal group of eighteen persons called the "Houston Committee for Organic Petrology"; the name was later changed to the Organizing Committee for Organic Petrology. The efforts of Helmut Schares (Schares Instrument Company) and Pieter van Gijzel (Getty-Texaco) were indispensable in organizing meetings and sending questionnaires concerning the formation of a new society. More than 1000 people received questionnaires, and about one-third of them responded. More than 85% of the respondents favored the founding of a new organization and greater than 90% were interested in attending a technical meeting of the group. Many comments from the questionnaires were considered in drafting the objectives of the society and the constitution/ bylaws."
Organizational Meeting in Houston
"The founding meeting was hosted by Amoco Production Company on Saturday March 10, 1984, and was attended by 38 persons from industry and universities. Elections were held for the March, 1984, to October, 1984, term..." (Hildick, TSOP Newsletter 1:1). The Committee adopted "The Society for Organic Petrology" as the name for the new organization, accepted the purpose of the organization (TSOP Constitution Article II [later Bylaws Article II]), adopted a constitution and bylaws, elected officers and agreed on the date and place of the first annual meeting. Letters were mailed in April 1984, to those that responded to earlier mailings, inviting colleagues to become a founding member of TSOP (Cardott et al., 1996).
Seminars, meetings, publications and research were initiated early and have continued through the years. Just one month after the organizational meeting, as reported on page 2 of the first newsletter, "The Society sponsored its first seminar entitled "Improved Microphotometric Techniques for Maceral Measurements" with Karl Ottenjann as guest speaker. The seminar was held April 11,1984, at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Houston, Texas, and was attended by approximately 50 people."
The first issue of the quarterly TSOP Newsletter was published in June, 1984. It has grown to a typical issue of 16 or 20 full-size pages with color iullustrations. More than half of the members now receive the Newsletter electronically, speeding access and saving postage costs. Back issues are now available via the web site, and searchable PDF files of the first 20 years were included on the 2005 meeting CD-ROM.
Initial Annual Meeting, 1984 in Virginia
The first annual meeting of TSOP was held on October 16-17,1984 at Tysons Corner in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. Some of the vision of the Society founders (from objectives stated in the July 6, 1983 letter) have [as of 1996] been realized: to have a forum for discussion of various problems in organic petrography; meeting with colleagues from different disciplines; teaching organic petrography by organizing seminars, short courses, and symposia; to publish a newsletter, manuals, and meeting proceedings. Other objectives are in progress: to solve several practical problems, such as classification systems for organic matter and bitumen, and standardization of techniques, or should be considered: computerization of microscopic analysis; stimulate universities to start programs in organic petrography and geochemistry (Cardott et al., 1996).
TSOP has become a formal scientific society (e.g., having officers, constitution, bylaws, members, and honorary members; an annual meeting of technical and poster sessions, short courses, and field trips; abstracts and program volume; proceedings volume of peerreviewed papers; quarterly newsletter; and membership directory) rather than a standardization organization, a niche served well by the International Committee for Coal and Organic Petrology (ICCP) and American Society for Testing and Materials, among others. TSOP is an Associated Society of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and a Member Society of the American Geological Institute (Cardott et al., 1996).
First TSOP meeting at the Tysons Corner, VA, USA (1984)
Co-sponsorship and Expansion
There have been joint symposia (with AASP, American Chemical Society Geochemistry Division and Geological Society of America Coal Geology Division, resulting in collected papers in journals) and joint meetings (with the Canadian Society for Coal and Organic Petrology, ICCP, and, in 1997, the Eastern Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists). The Society has grown in stature and is recognized worldwide.
The diversity of TSOP membership continues to expand, as does international membership (Cardott et al., 1996).
In 1990, a meeting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, took TSOP outside the United States for the first time, six years after its founding. The 1992 meeting in Pennsylvania, held jointly with ICCP, brought new levels of international attendees to the TSOP meeting. A section of the 2001 ICCP meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, was organized jointly with TSOP. The 2004 meeting in Sydney, Australia, was TSOP's first annual meeting held outside North America. Annual meetings outside the United States have been held jointly with ICCP and/or CSCOP.
Incorporation and Nonprofit Status
TSOP incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Virginia, USA, in 2008. In 2009, members voted to adopt new Bylaws which combined the previously separate Constitution and Bylaws documents, and made some updates. Following application in June, 2009, the US Internal Revenue Service granted recognition of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on February 9, 2010. (March 2010 Newsletter, page 6).