Skip to main content

Constitutions and Charters, 1857-1989

Identifier: Series 2

Scope and Contents note

Series contains the documents of guidance and rules of the NEA. The series is made up of Bylaws, Charters, Standing Rules, Codes of Ethics, Constitutions, Governance Instruments, and Proposed Amendments referenced throughout the years of the NEA. Also included in the series are the records of the Committee on Constitution, Bylaws and Rules, as well as the many records of the Constitutional Convention designed to rewrite the governance documents of the NEA in the 1970s.


  • 1857-1989


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Some files are restricted. Files flagged as restricted are subject to review by Special Collections staff before being made available for research. As researchers request materials, a review of the documents will take place. Staff will remove any documents with social security numbers, employee numbers or other sensitive identifying information. Any document found including this information is closed for 90 years from date of creation, or until verifiable proof of a person’s death is given. After these documents are removed the folder will be available for research. In some cases, items may be photocopied and redacted. The redacted copy will then be placed in the publicly available folder. All other materials in a folder will be freely available for immediate use and will be marked as having been reviewed by Special Collections staff. After folders have been reviewed using these procedures and the confidential materials have been removed, the restriction shall be lifted.

Biographical/Historical note

At the first meeting of the National Teachers’ Association (later known as the NEA) in 1857, following the election of a Chairman and Secretary, a committee was appointed to draft a constitution and present it in the afternoon. Promptly a constitution was drafted (some say it was done beforehand), which was adopted in the afternoon session and signed by 43 educators.

At the time of the constitution’s creation membership was limited to ‘gentlemen’. This choice of wording was changed in 1866 to ‘person’, and also caused limited uproars in 1869 and 1910 as well.

The organization was incorporated in 1886 in the District of Columbia as the National Education Association, and in 1906 it was chartered by an act of Congress. The charter was officially adopted at the association's annual meeting of 1907, with the name officially set down as the National Education Association of the United States. The original statement of purpose of the National Teachers Association remains unchanged in the present NEA charter.

Throughout the years, the constitution has been reworked to accommodate the vast growth of its membership and focus. One of the largest reworkings of the constitution took place in the early 1970s with the creation of a constitutional convention (Con-Con).

Bylaws and Rules have been created, voted on and added periodically to complete the NEA’s governing documents, and accommodate emerging needs and priorities.


Education Encyclopedia: “National Education Association”

US History Encyclopedia: “National Education Association”

Wesley, Edgar B. NEA: The First Hundred Years. New York: Harper, 1957


36 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement note

Arranged alphabetically by title, and chronologically within the same title.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America