The American Oriental Society is the oldest learned society in the United States devoted to a particular field of scholarship. The Society was founded in 1842, preceded only by such distinguished organizations of general scope as the American Philosophical Society (1743), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1780), and the American Antiquarian Society (1812). From the beginning its aims have been humanistic. The encouragement of basic research in the languages and literatures of Asia has always been central in its tradition. This tradition has come to include such subjects as philology, literary criticism, textual criticism, paleography, epigraphy, linguistics, biography, archaeology, and the history of the intellectual and imaginative aspects of Oriental civilizations, especially of philosophy, religion, folklore and art. The scope of the Society's purpose is not limited by temporal boundaries: All sincere students of man and his works in Asia, at whatever period of history are welcomed to membership.