A strong beginning with an eye on tomorrow
ncorporated in 1971, the American Truck Historical Society was formed to preserve the history of trucks, the trucking industry, and its pioneers.
Founders of ATHS at the charter meeting.
Just over a year later another fledgling group, the United States Truck Historical Society, was included to form the “new” ATHS. Shortly afterward the American Trucking Association officially recognized ATHS as the “duly authorized organization founded to record and develop trucking industry historical data.”
A headquarters was established in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, and the society began printing a newsletter. With membership increasing, this newsletter was converted to a magazine in 1980 known as Wheels of Time.
Mr. Harris Saunders, Sr. (Saunders Truck Leasing) became president of the organization in 1977. He relocated the headquarters to Birmingham, Alabama, and hired his daughter, Mrs. Zoe S. James, to oversee the library, archives, and membership. This was a period of rapid growth for the Society. Membership increased from 350 in 1977 to 1,000 in 1980 and 9,000 in 1990. Current membership is near 21,000.
An annual convention has been held each year since 1972, with an antique truck show, open to the public, added in 1980. These shows have grown from 23 trucks in 1980 to over 1,000 trucks, fire apparatus, buses and RV’s, military and special interest vehicles.
The Zoe James Memorial Library boasts a collection of over 100,000 photographs; 35,000 pieces of sales literature; 45,000 books and periodicals, along with a collection of scale model trucks.
The ATHS has grown to be international in scope. Currently, we have members in 23 countries. Nationally, we have members in all 50 states. Also, ATHS encourages formation of local chapters, with 94 chapters at this time (including 5 Canadian, 1 Australian, and 3 division chapters).
We must regularly pause to examine the Society as it stands today. Without our members, chapters, board of directors, and headquarters staff, preserving the rich history of the trucking industry would be a greater task. Together we can make dreams come true. One of the great things about the trucking industry is the camaraderie that is present, and all of these individuals fit right in even with varied talents and histories of their own.
Tomorrow may seem far away as we go through another busy day, but to continue our mission of trucking history preservation it is vital that we look to the future when making plans for the Society. Specifically chosen for its potential to house a museum dedicated to the trucking industry, the headquarters building in Kansas City, Mo., is a constant reminder for us to look ahead. What that future will hold is yet to be written, but with the solid support of a dedicated board of directors and the ongoing relationships with ATHS chapters around the world, the future looks bright.