In December 1949, the Association of Directors of Speech Activities, a group of instructors attending the annual meeting of the Speech Association of America, met in Chicago. These people became the Founders of the American Forensic Association. Their purpose was to have an organization to promote the interests of Directors of forensics programs and to encourage the development of forensics participation.

Perhaps the best illustration of the early efforts was the annual meeting of 1950. The North Central Accrediting Association had proposed that extra-curricular speech activities be eliminated from high schools. The association successfully countered this effort.

Another characteristic of forensic educators was illustrated in 1953. Selected for debate during that year was the topic: “Resolved: that the United States should recognize Communist China.” Directors of forensic programs were summoned to testify before Congressional Committees and students at the service academies were prohibited from debating the topic, but debate went on.

In 1964, the Association founded The Journal of the American Forensic Association, renamed Argumentation and Advocacy: The Journal of the American Forensic Association in 1988. This journal marked an increasing emphasis on the encouragement of research by the Association. Many outstanding scholars have been editors of this journal.

In 1966, the National Debate Tournament was established. The Tournament continued the tradition of an end of the year championship tournament begun by the United States Military Academy in 1947. In 1977, the NDT was joined by the National Individual Events Tournament (now known as the AFA National Speech Tournament (NST)).

In 1979, the Association joined the Speech Communication Association in establishing the Summer Conference on Argumentation. The Conference has been an important element in encouraging the development of research in argumentation and advocacy.

Today, the Association conducts many activities in support of forensics directors and their students.


The following members of the American Forensic Association joined the Association of Directors of Speech Activities, which was the immediate forerunner of the AFA, prior to December 10, 1949. Meeting at three meetings at the annual convention of the Speech Association of America, the group founded the American Forensic Association and drafted its first Constitution. Those meetings occurred at the Stevens Hotel (now the Chicago Hilton and Towers) on South Michigan Street in Chicago, Illinois, in December 1949.

  • Otis J. Aggertt
  • H. L. Ahrendts, Kearney State College, NE
  • J. Jeffrey Auer, Oberlin College, OH
  • Charles T. Battin, College of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
  • Raymond Beard
  • Paul F. Blackburn, Loyola University, Los Angeles, CA
  • Gifford Blyton, University of Kentucky, Lexington
  • Robert S. Bradley, S.J., Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA
  • Richard C. Bland, Stetson University, DeLand, FL
  • Paul Brandes
  • Winston L. Brembeck, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  • Adeline Brockshire, Fairmount High School, Fairmount IN
  • E. C. Buehler, University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Hulda Burdick, Muskegon High School, WI
  • W. Arthur Cable, University of Arizona, Tucson
  • Glenn R. Capp, Baylor University, Waco, TX


Glenn Capp of Baylor University (courtesy of Baylor University Department of Communication)










  • Hugo A. Carlson, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD
  • Paul Carmack, Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Eugene C. Chenoweth, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Brother C. Cornelius, FSC, Christian Brothers Academy, Syracuse,
  • Lionel Crocker, Denison University, Granville, OH
  • H. Barrett Davis, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
  • Lt. Lawrence Dean, Valley Forge Military Academy, Wayne, PA
  • Elnora Drafahl, New York State Teachers College, Albany
  • Wayne Eubank
  • William W. Evans, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis,
  • Thorrel B. Fest, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Austin J. Freeley, Boston University, MA
  • J. V. Garland
  • Hal W. Goetsch, Blair High School, WI
  • Ellen H. Gould, Alabama College for Women, Montevallo
  • Rev. R. J. Grennan, Champion High School, Prairie du
    Chien, WI
  • Annabel Hagood, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Annabel Hagood, University of Alabama








  • Hugo Hellman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
  • George F. Henigan, George Washington University, Washington,DC
  • George Holm, Kent State College, OH
  • Ben W. Hope
  • James N. Irby, Jr., Spring Hill College, AL
  • Bruno E. Jacob, Ripon College, WI
  • Lt. Col. Chester L. Johnson, United States Military Academy,
    West Point, NY
  • Carroll P. Lahman, Pasadena College, CA
  • Chris R. Layton
  • Paul E. Lull
  • Ralph Y. McGinnis
  • James McMonis
  • Robert C. Martin, Lake Forest College, IL
  • Charles Masten, Kansas State Teacher’s College, Emporia
  • J. Edmond Mayer, Alhambra High School, CA
  • Ralph Micken, Illinois State Normal College, Normal
  • Edd Miller
  • Glen Mills, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Eugene C. Moulton, Carroll College, Waukesha, WI
  • William G. Nagel, Washington High School, Massilon, OH
  • Lloyd R. Newcomer, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA
  • Alan Nichols, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Alan Nichols, courtesy of USC Trojan Debate.













  • Egbert Ray Nichols, University of Redlands, CA
  • E. Ray Nichols, Jr., University of Oregon, Eugene
  • Lawrence. E. Norton, Bradley University, Peoria, IL
  • Clarence L. Nystrom, Wheaton College, IL
  • Karsten J. Ohnstad, Ripon College, WI
  • Guy Eugene Oliver
  • Donald Olson, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • David Potter, University of Akron, OH
  • Samuel Prichard, University of Maine, Orono
  • W. Charles Redding, University of Southern California, Los
  • Maude Ross, Miami High School, OK
  • A. Westley Rowland, Alma College, Alma MI
  • Ralph N. Schmidt, Utica College, NY
  • Ervin H. Schwierburt, College of Idaho, Caldwell
  • Forrest L. Seal, DePauw University, Greencastle, IN
  • Franklin Shirley
  • Malcolm O. Sillars, Iowa State College, Ames
Malcolm O. Sillars, courtesy of the University of Utah.











  • Solomon Simonson, New York State Teacher’s College, Fredonia
  • George L. Sixby, Arkansas State Teacher’s College, Conway
  • Paul W. Smith, Pasadena City College, CA
  • Leonard Sommer, University of Notre Dame, IN
  • I. H. Sparling, Eureka College, IL
  • C. Wharton Talley, University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale
  • Gordon Thomas
  • Wayne N. Thompson, Chicago Undergraduate Division, University
    of Illinois
  • William H. Veatch, Washington State College, Pullman
  • Seymour M. Vinocur, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Grace Walsh, State Teacher’s College, Eau Claire, WI
  • Otis M. Walter, Jr., University of Houston, TX
  • J. C. Wetherby, Duke University, Durham, NC
  • Hudson F. Wilcox, Enid High School, OK