The First Conference of the National Vocational Guidance Association: Roots of the National Career Development Association #2

Rich Feller, President (2012-2013) National Career Development Association

With much anticipation, the National Career Development Association (NCDA) enjoys its centennial year. The formation of the National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA) was completed at a series of meetings held in October 21-24, 1913 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. During these meetings, NVGA was formed through acceptance of the report from an organizing committee, the adoption of a constitution, and the election of officers.


The founding constitution of the National Vocational Guidance Association included a clear statement of its objectives.

The objects of this association shall be to promote intercourse between those who are interested in vocational guidance; to give stronger and more general impulse and more systematic direction to the study and practice of vocational guidance; to establish a center or centers for the distribution of information concerning the study and practice of vocational guidance; and to cooperate with the public school and other agencies in the furtherance of these objects.


For this month's coverage of our roots, we include a link to NVGA’s very first publication, entitled  "Papers Presented at the Organization Meeting of the Vocational Guidance Association Oct 1913". [Editor's Note: this is a large pdf and may take time and memory to load. Some internet browsers may have difficulty.]  The Papers were printed by the U.S. Bureau of Education and sold for 10 cents.


The publication included papers written by four individuals who became famous for their social activism, but not work in vocational guidance. Their interest was more in social work and child labor. The first was George Herbart Mead who eventually became one of the founders of the field of social psychology and famous for his theory of mind, self, and society called symbolic interactionism. The second was Helen Thompson Woolley who conducted the first major psychological study of sex differences and pioneered the study of gender differences. Third was Owen R. Lovejoy who as general secretary of the National Child Labor Committee became a leading spokesperson for opposition to child labor. And fourth was Leonard Porter Ayres who went on to prominence as a leader in the Russell Sage Foundation and later as a brigadier general in the U.S. military.


Of course most of the papers were written by emerging leaders in the vocational guidance movement including Frank Leavitt, Jesse Davis, and Meyer Bloomfield. Leavitt was prominent leader in field of industrial education and the first president of NVGA. Davis is considered the America’s first school counselor because he was first to implement systematic program of guidance in a high school. Bloomfield hired and then succeeded Frank Parsons as director of the Boston Vocational Guidance Bureau and also in 1913 was a founder of the American Management Association.


For more about the formation of NVGA read the prefatory statement on pages 5-7 of the Papers Presented at the Organization Meeting of the Vocational Guidance Association Oct 1913.




Rich FellerRich Feller, Ph.D., is Professor of Counseling and Career Development and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Colorado State University, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. A Fellow and President (2012-2013) of the National Career Development Association, he received NCDA’s Eminent Career Award in 2009. He can be reached at Rich.Feller@ColoState.EDU

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Elisabeth Sanders-Park   on Friday 03/01/2013 at 08:32 PM

Thank you Rich & NCDA for sharing this. In a season of so much change, it is wonderful to belong to a well-intentioned, excellent organization that is standing the test of time. It's fun to read the founding statement of objectives and see that you have remained true, even as you are responding to a new era. I am very excited to participate in the 100th conference in Boston!

Felicia Fierro   on Friday 03/29/2013 at 09:10 PM

I recently joined NCDA. This organization seems like a great fit for my interest. Ive read the mission statement. Im eager to to read the written work of the four individual who are known for their social activism. Im really interested in HelenThompson Woolley's article!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.