ASHRAE was founded in 1894 as the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE). Ten years later the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (ASRE) was organized in December 1904. Although there were many members who had membership to both societies and discussions about a merger; it wasn't until 1959 that there was a final agreement and the two organizations merged to form ASHRAE.
ASHVE was first talked of, at least with the idea of at once forming such society in the summer of 1894. It was thought that the time was ripe for a pure engineering society. Composed of the active workers in the field of heating and ventilating, meetings subjects most interesting to the engineer would be discussed. As the result of this interchange of ideas, it was decided to ask the opinions of fifty or seventy-five engineers known to be much interested in their chosen line of work, as to the advisability of forming such an organization.
So many favorable replies were received that invitations were sent out to about twenty-five persons in New York city to come together at the office of Heating and Ventilation, 146 World Building, New York, Thursday, August 2, 1894. The first regular meeting was called to order at the Broadway Central Hotel, New York, at 3 P. M., September 10, 1894. The first annual meeting of The American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers was held at No. 12 West 31 st street, New York city, January 22, 23, and 24, 1895.
ASHRAE are producing a publication called Proclaiming the Truth, which chronicles the beginnings and growth of ASHRAE. This will be released at the 2020 ASHRAE Winter Conference in February.
Read the preface from the Transactions from the first annual meeting held January 22-24, 1895.