First Convention

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The majority of the attendees of the world's first science fiction convention, from left: Oswald Train, Donald A. Wollheim, Milton A. Rothman, Frederik Pohl, John B. Michel, William S. Sykora (holding the NYB-ISA flag), David A. Kyle, and Robert Madle. They're standing in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Not pictured: Herbert E. Goudket, who took the photograph, and John V. Baltadonis, who had not arrived at the time the picture was taken.


The very first sf convention was held October 22, 1936, in Philadelphia, PA.

According to Sam Moskowitz, "It was suggested by John B. Michel that the club [the NYB-ISA] plan a social outing of some sort; this was agreed to, great controversy ensued as to the destination. Philadelphia was decided upon, chiefly because Wollheim had hit upon the novel idea of meeting with out-of-town fans and thereby calling the affair a science fiction convention."

Retrospectively (though it was common usage by 1939), it was given the name First Eastern or First Eastern Science Fiction Convention. (By a year later, at the Third Eastern Science Fiction Convention, again in Philadelphia, it was being referred to as the "[previous] Philly convention." See here.)

The NYB-ISA members attending were Don Wollheim, John Michel, Will Sykora, David Kyle, Herbert E. Goudket, and Fred Pohl; the Philadelphia SFL members included Milt Rothman, Bob Madle, John V. Baltadonis and Ossie Train. They toured the town and had a get-together at Rothman's house for the afternoon. It was "marked with horseplay and camaraderie," according to Fancyclopedia 1. Rothman was elected convention chairman and Pohl secretary. The only other official business was to plan the Second Eastern Convention for New York in February 1938.

This was the first of all stf conventions, though this has been challenged. (See “Which Was the First SF Convention?” for details.)

See Phoxphyre for reminiscences by those who were there and discussion of others who were probably not there.

See also Early Conventions.


first Early Conventions Second Eastern
Reasonator 1936
This is a convention page. Please extend it by adding information about the convention, including dates, GoHs, convention chairman, locale, sponsoring organization, external links to convention pages, awards given, the program, notable events, anecdotes, pictures, scans of publications, pictures of T-shirts, con reports, etc.