What's in a name?

The MTA and its publications change names through the decades

The MTA has gone through several structural and name changes over the years, sometimes making it challenging to track the organization’s history — or even to determine which organization is the “real” MTA.

The MTA’s name upon founding in 1845 was the same as it is today, with just one difference – an apostrophe, as in Massachusetts Teachers’ Association. At various times, however, the organization was referred to as the Massachusetts State Teachers’ Association.

Common Grounds

Starting in 1848 and continuing through 1874, the MTA’s main function was to publish a magazine called The Massachusetts Teacher. Seemingly at random, that publication’s title also changed from time to time, and for one year was just called The Teacher. Those early editions were digitized by Google and are available to the public.

In 1857, the MTA and New York’s educators’ association led a group of 10 state associations to found the National Teachers Association, later the NEA.

In 1911 a group of educators founded a new organization called the Massachusetts Teachers Federation — MTF. While the MTA was made up of county associations and individual members, the MTF was a federation of local education associations and is considered by some the real forerunner of today’s MTA.

From 1914 to 1931, the MTF published a magazine called Common Ground. In 1919, the MTA turned over its assets of $137.74 to the MTF and merged with the larger organization.

In 1931, the publication’s name was once again called The Massachusetts Teacher, but was still published under the MTF’s name. It was not until 1953 that the organization’s name was changed back to the Massachusetts Teachers Association, this time without an apostrophe.

That name change no doubt reduced confusing the state’s NEA affiliate with yet another education association in the state, the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers. The MFT was founded in 1938 as the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. Today, that organization is called AFT Massachusetts.

The MTF name no longer exists, though the structure the MTF created based on local associations and an increased focus on educator pay and working conditions have continued. Through mergers and name changes, this organization of professional educators has evolved and thrived. The MTA, under whatever name, with or without an apostrophe, has existed in Massachusetts since 1845.

Chronicle of MTA’s Name Changes and Publications Since 1845

1845: The Massachusetts Teachers Association was founded at a meeting in Worcester on November 24. It was the third state educators’ association in the country, following those in Rhode Island and New York earlier that year. The MTA was a statewide association of county associations funded with modest individual membership dues.

1848-1874: The MTA published The Massachusetts Teacher, with some variations in the name during this period. From 1856 through 1874 it was called The Massachusetts Teacher and Journal of Home and School Education. In 1864, ’68, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’73 and ’74 it was called The Massachusetts Teacher: A Journal of School and Home Education. In 1863, 1865 and 1866 it was called The Massachusetts Teacher; A Journal of School and Home Education. In 1862 and 1867 it was just called The Massachusetts Teacher. In 1872 it was called The Teacher.

1857: The National Teachers Association, later the NEA, was formed, with support from 10 state associations, including the MTA.

1875: The MTA ceased publishing its own periodical. In 1875, The Massachusetts Teacher, The Connecticut School Journal, The Maine Journal of Education, The Rhode Island Schoolmaster, and The College Courant merged to form The New England Journal of Education, later known as the Journal of Education. This periodical was published from 1875-2015.

MTA Today

1911: The Massachusetts Teachers Federation was formed. This was a federation of local — not county — education association affiliates. It operated alongside the greatly diminished MTA before the two organizations merged eight years later.

1914-1931: The MTF published Common Ground under the MTF’s name. The MTA has print copies of these publications.

1919: The MTF and the MTA merged and went by the name MTF until 1953.

1931-1972: The merged organization’s publication was once again called The Massachusetts Teacher, starting in October 1931. The MTA has print editions of these publications.

1953: The MTF changed its name to the Massachusetts Teachers Association at the Annual Meeting on April 25. The stated reason was that other NEA affiliates had the word “association” as part of their names. Another reason may have been to reduce confusing the MTF with the MFT — the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, the state affiliate of the AFT. The MFT was founded in 1938. Later that organization’s name was changed to AFT Massachusetts.

1972-present: The MTA changed the publication name to MTA Today in 1972. It continues to be published under that name.

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