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The American Accordionists’ Association turns 80!!

Joan Grauman Morse, AAA HistorianIn March of 2018, the American Accordionists’ Association (AAA) will turn 80 years old. We hope to see all of you this summer in beautiful Alexandria, Virginia, where we will celebrate this special milestone! As the organization’s historian, I will be writing monthly articles on events that led up to the creation of the AAA, some of its influential members, as well as special events throughout the decades, and more.

Below is the 4th article.
Joan Grauman Morse, AAA Historian

80 Years of AAA Logos and Promotional Materials

“It has long been hoped that a common speech might be evolved which would be used by people of all the countries of the world, but thus far this idea has met with little success. Perhaps, the best substitute we shall ever have for a universal language is accordion music, which is understood and loved by people in every corner of the globe: which is appreciated equally by prince and peasant, by millionaire and laborer; a language, not of the mind but of the soul and the emotions.”
-- The Accordion World Magazine, 1937

The accordion’s popularity was beginning to explode in the United States in the late 1930s. During the very first meeting in March, 1938 of the new organization, the American Accordionists’ Association (AAA), the founders had many goals that they hoped to realize during the organization’s first year.

They hoped to:
- place the accordion in public and private schools as an instrument equal to other band and orchestral instruments; create competitions;
- standardize musical notation;
- standardize registers and reed configurations in accordions; and
- establish awards for outstanding teachers, players, manufacturers and accordion band directors.

During this first meeting, the founders also created an Executive Board, bylaws, rules of membership, and they designed an elaborate membership button (pin). “This pin is gold-plated and has the words ‘American Accordionists’ Association’ in gold against the background of blue enamel.

It is circular in shape and carries an accordion insignia in its center surrounded by a laurel wreath and topped with an oil lamp, signifying the lamp of knowledge” (Accordion World Magazine, April 1938). The pins were available to all active and honorary members of the AAA at a cost of fifty cents each, including postage.

AAA logo 1938-63

Founding member and Publicity Director, Sam Rowland, highly recommended a respectable and easily recognizable logo for the new organization. This beautiful logo, designed during that very first meeting, was used for over thirty years on membership certificates, plaques, certified teacher certificates and banners.


In the early 1970s, AAA Governing Board Member Faithe Deffner encouraged the AAA to change the logo to something more modern. Inspired by the “little wire accordion” that was attached to the AAA’s “Tony Award Trophy” (picture below), Faithe created a very appealing simple design depicting the joy and bond between a musician and his/her accordion (picture below right). That logo is still used by the AAA today!

Above: AAA Winged Victory Trophy (left) and The Pietro Trophy (right)

In honor of the AAA’s 70th anniversary in 2008, Joan Grauman Morse created a border around the logo designed by Faithe Deffner (picture above). In 2010, Joan added “Since 1938” to the AAA logo. The 70th anniversary logo has been brought back and modified for the 80th anniversary (see below).

Through the years, the AAA has designed trophies, promotional stickers, posters, jewelry and t-shirts for the organization’s many spectacular festivals and contests.

Come to the 80th anniversary celebration in July to enjoy the new artwork planned in honor of this momentous event!

Sticker from AAA-sponsored Coupe Mondiale, Washington, DC, 1976.

Above: Linda Reed & Frank Busso,
2013 AAA at Bryant Park, New York

Special thanks to Dr. Helmi Harrington, Lou Coppola, and Frank Busso, Jr. for providing several photos critical to this article.

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