Technocracy Fonds Finding Aid
Technocracy
Technocracy Fonds
1933-1995
7.3 m of textual records

Administrative History of Technocracy Inc.

Man Hours, Technocracy Inc., 1940

Technocracy is a uniquely North American movement which had its inception in 1919 in New York City. It was founded by Howard Scott, an American engineer, who along with a number of other scientists and engineers, impressed by the results of the mobilization of resources and production during the First World War, organized a group known as the Technical Alliance. The Technical Alliance proposed to study the working of the entire social system, and elected Howard Scott to serve as Chief Engineer. They conducted a survey of North American energy and natural resources, and studied the corresponding industrial evolution that unfolded post-World War One. The group’s aim was to design a new system of production and distribution for continental North America that would provide a better standard of living while conserving non-renewable resources, ensuring ‘an economy of abundance’. The Technical Alliance was renamed Technocracy in 1930 and in 1932 its basic findings were published. In the fall of 1933, Technocracy was incorporated in New York State as a “nonsectarian, educational-research membership organization” (Technocracy Digest, No. 231, pp 4). American engineer W.H. Smith is credited with coining the term ‘technocracy’ which is derived from Greek language roots to convey the concept of ‘government by science’. Technocracy uses the Monad, an ancient generic symbol signifying balance, as its symbol.

Howard Scott was named the first Director-in-Chief of Technocracy Incorporated, and the stated objectives of the newly-formed organization were: (1) to carry on a program of economic research; (2) to bring technocratic theory to the attention of the public; and (3) to provide a skeleton organization capable of forming the Technate of North America in the event of a final collapse of the social and economic order based on the price system. (Encyclopedia Canadiana, 1968 edition, pp. 29) A basic tenet of Technocracy is that the market economy, or ‘price system’ will eventually fail. Scott extended and modified the traditional economic concepts of contemporaries such as chemist Frederick Soddy and economist Thorstein Veblen to embrace the fundamental role of energy in technological societies and its effect on the price system of operating (Walt Fryers, “Comments on Project”, Case File). Energy accounting is an alternative to money in a technate. Energy credits, unlike traditional money, cannot be saved or earned, only distributed evenly among a populace. The reason for the use of energy credits is to ensure equality among the Technate’s citizenry as well as prohibit spending that is beyond the productive capacity of the technocracy (see: http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Technocratic movement).

Scott began touring North America and soon chartered sections were set up in many North American cities and towns, including Edmonton and Calgary. Sections sponsored study and research groups, the publication of Technocracy periodicals, pamphlets, and newsletters, and arranged speaking tours to promote interest in the movement. The Edmonton and Calgary sections both published technocratic publications: the Foothills Technocrat (Calgary) and the Northern Technocrat (Edmonton). Technocracy’s Continental Headquarters (CHQ) was originally situated in New York, but has moved several times through its history, and it is currently located in Ferndale, Washington.

From the beginning the movement was committed to abstaining from all revolutionary and political activities. The movement gained strength throughout the 1930’s but in 1940, due to an alleged initial opposition to the Second World War, was banned in Canada. The ban was lifted in 1943 when it was apparent that Technocracy Inc. was committed to the war effort, proposing a program of total conscription. The movement continued to expand during the remainder of the war and new sections were formed in Ontario and the Maritime Provinces (Encyclopedia Canadiana, 1968 edition, pp. 29).

In the post-war years, perhaps due to continued prosperity, membership and interest in Technocracy decreased. The movement has continued into the early years of the 21st Century, the members of which partake in discussion groups and publish quarterly The North American Technocrat.


Scope and Content

The records have been arranged in three broad series: Series one is the records of the Edmonton Technocracy regional district; Series two is the Calgary Technocracy regional district records; and Series three is the records of a long-standing individual member of the Edmonton Technocracy group, John Gregory. Within each series are several sub-series to further facilitate the description of the record. Sub-series include: organizational records, office administration files, special collections from individual Technocracy members, outreach and publicity records, and publications.

The predominant amount of the fonds is comprised of publications, including newsletters, pamphlets and booklets, reprints and other articles, periodicals, and books. Much of this material is the official publications of Technocracy, Inc. head office, or material published by individual sectors on matters of more local concern. Individual members also wrote papers on a variety of Technocracy topics, and submitted their writings to CHQ (Corporate Headquarters) for comment and approval before considering wider distribution. Also included are other articles, papers, theses and books that write about Technocracy as a topic or about subject-mater of interest to Technocracy members. A published series of lessons discussing Technocracy doctrine was published by Technocracy, Inc. and titled “Technocracy Study Course”; various editions of the Study Course publications are found in this fonds.

Technocracy Headquarters also prepared regular ‘general mailings’ and operating instructions which were sent to all their members, and included information updates, book reviews, activity reports and plans for upcoming meetings and visits. Strategies for attracting membership and related outreach activities were discussed in the CHQ mailings, and member sectors responded in turn with monthly reports to CHQ detailing their membership and financial activity, meetings and outreach plans.

Series three, John Gregory’s records, includes interesting correspondence between himself and Howard Scott, originator of Technocracy and long-serving Director-in-Chief of Technocracy, Inc. Issues around water and continental hydrology are one topic of their correspondence. Mr. Gregory also collected long playing albums that record a lecture Howard Scott gave in Ohio in 1952.

While categorically not a populist movement, the Technocracy papers deposited with the University of Alberta Archives reflect the popular interwar currents of thought in North America regarding the political and economic organization of society. In this sense, the Technocracy movement is significant in the same manner that many prairie populist movements hold historical research value. The records are in excellent physical shape and provide valuable insight into a unique North American social movement.


Arrangement

The fonds consists of the following series:

1. Edmonton Technocracy Section
2. Calgary Regional District Technocracy Records
3. John Gregory Records


Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on these records.

Restrictions on Use

There are no use restrictions on these records.


Administrative Information

Custodial History

The records remained in the possession of their donors -- Walt Fryers, Dr. Helen Diemert, Doug Tomlinson, and John Gregory -- until their donation to the University of Alberta Archives.

Preferred Citation

Please note the following example for citation purposes:

"Accommodation – General Insurance coverage for office space," 1977-1985, Technocracy Fonds, Box 96-123-1 File 68, University of Alberta Archives.

Acquisition Information

The Technocracy records were received at the University of Alberta Archives as five separate accessions. Walt Fryers of the Edmonton Regional Division donated Accession 93-20 in April 1993. Dr. Helen Diemert of the Calgary Regional Division donated Accession 93-55 in April 1993. Doug Tomlinson of Edmonton donated Accession 95-54 in May 1995. Walt Fryers donated Accession 96-123 in 1996, and John Gregory of the Edmonton Regional Division donated Accession 2007-07 in March 2007. The donations have been brought together in one comprehensive finding-aid.