"The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is a not-for-profit membership corporation chartered in New York State in 1931 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare."
Those words from the AIP's website about sum it up, but the AIP is a lot more than just that. The AIP's initial funding came from the Chemical Foundation. At it's conception, which officially came in 1932, a year after it was chartered, the AIP was comprised of five separate socities: The American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, the Acoustical Society of America, The Society of Rheology, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Later on, five new socities were added between 1966 and 1986: American Crystallographic Association (1966), American Astronomical Society (1966), American Association of Physicists in Medicine (1973), American Vacuum Society (1976), and American Geophysical Union (1986).
When the society was founded, many threats plagued the physics community as a whole. Many physics programs not directly related to the devolpment of weapons and national security were critically underfunded. While the beginnings of esoteric theories such as quantum mechanics and general relativity were widening the gap between academic and indistrial physicists, and an increased complexity in physics decreased a public's understanding, giving rise to notions that physics was responsible for problems such as economic ruin and an epidemic of international warfare.
The AIP began immediately to publsh abstracts and journals, seeking to keep all fields of physics connected and communicating, while making an honest effort to educate a public who did not understand. As the AIP grew it began to take on new tasks, such as making available, worldwide, the proceedings of scientific conferences and computerizations of scientific abstracts.
Today the AIP is an evergrowing society claiming well over 100,000 members nationwide, and maintains its publications and missions of public information and education.