ISSMGE Bulletin: Volume 7, Issue 5


Norbert R. Morgenstern
Distinguished University Professor (Emeritus)
University of Alberta


This presentation summarizes the evolution of ISSMGEE, from its first International Conference with 206 delegates to its current status with nearly 19,000 members. Three phases are defined: Infancy, followed by Adolescence and Maturity. Personal reflections accompany the discussion of each phase. On this 75th Anniversary of ISSMGE, the Society can look back on its achievements with considerable pride.


Esta presentación resume la evolución del ISSMGE, desde la primera Conferencia Internacional con 206
delegados, hasta su situación actual con casi 19,000 miembros. Tres fases son definidas: Infancia, seguida de Adolescencia y Madurez. La discusión de cada fase esta acompañada por reflexiones personales. En este 75 aniversario del ISSMGE, la Sociedad puede mirar atrás y contemplar sus logros con orgullo.


The web site of our Society provides a brief summary of its history and its current status. It records that
206 delegates attended the First International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering held at Harvard in 1936. The Society now has 88 Member Societies worldwide representing nearly 19,000 individual members and operates 30 technical committees working on a wide range of topics. Its aim is, and has always been, the promotion of international cooperation amongst engineers and scientists for the
advancement and dissemination of knowledge in the field of geotechnics, and its engineering and
environmental applications.

On this occasion, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Society which is a matter of very considerable achievement. All of our membership has benefitted from the remarkable success of this organization and it is appropriate to take this opportunity to reflect on our history and recognize the contributions of those who have guided it through its continued success.

Table 1 lists the Presidents of ISSMGE and this chronology provides a useful reference basis for identifying key phases in the evolution of our Society. No less significant are those who have served the Society as Secretary/Secretary General and they are listed in Table 2.

My own involvement with the Society began in 1957 when I was a graduate student at Imperial College and attended the 4th International Conference. This was the last that Terzaghi attended and marked a significant new phase in the maturing of the Society. My sense of the phases are:
• 1936-1957 Infancy
• 1957-1977 Adolescence
• 1977-Present day Maturity
Reflections and reminiscences follow below under these headings.

Download ISSMGE Bulletin – Volume 7 Issue 5 (pp. 151-180)
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