For several days in March, 1938, Alfred Korzybski lectured the medical staff at Peoria State Hospital, Peoria, Illinois. His presentation there marked the end of his career as an independent, itinerant teacher (which had ramped up ever since the publication five years earlier of Science and Sanity). By the time of his Peoria lectures, Korzybski and a few of his closest students had already begun the process of setting up the Institute of General Semantics (IGS) in Chicago, which the state of Illinois incorporated in May 1938 as a non-profit institution for "Linguistic Epistemologic Scientific Research and Education". Remarkably today, seventy-five years later, the Institute still exists. It has never been easy.
Until his death on March 1, 1950—Korzybski would carry on his work at the Institute (which moved to Lakeville, Connecticut in 1946). Korzybski: A Biography provides a detailed account of IGS history during those first 12 turbulent years. Accounts of the Institute's subsequent years can be found in various now-somewhat-hard-to-find articles by Charlotte Schuchardt Read and others. I've provided some recent updates of the last somewhat tumultuous decade (See my 2011 presentation at the IGS Annual Conference in New York City and my January 2013 blogpost The State of Organized GS-2013: A Blunt Assessment, which both focus on recent organizational difficulties.) However, as Korzybski: A Biography clearly documents, from its beginnings the IGS struggled with difficulties of various kinds, some of which threatened its survival—even with Korzybski at the helm. Difficulties, sometimes severe, continued after Korzybski's death. (In my years, starting in 1979, of serious involvement in IGS educational, management, and publication activities I was one of a number of people who had to deal with many of these problems). But somehow the Institute survived it all. And despite recent problems and organizational downsizing, it still does.
Will the Institute of General Semantics survive as a viable organization carrying on Korzybski's legacy for another 75 years? I don't know. I do feel confident that if it is to do so, those people who run the organization now, its Board of Trustees, will need to do a lot more than they already have done to renew their understanding of Korzybski's work and of the aims and history of the organization they are responsible for. And they will need to renew their commitment to carrying on the legacy that Korzybski and others left us. Not just words but actions are needed. Complacency and indifference have a way of sneaking up on even the best of us. And the creeping organizational amnesia (which I've alluded to elsewhere and which may have started long before any of its present members sat on the Board of Trustees) will have to be reversed. Without a deep and thorough knowledge of the discipline of GS, including the history and traditions of the Institute,—which I presently see lacking in the organization—it will be impossible to adequately build upon what's been done already. That's what conscious time-binding requires. In order to learn, it's necessary to realize that you don't already know something. Those who don't know can then get help if they seek it, because there are still a few people around who know quite a bit—hint, hint.
In the meantime, I send the Institute of General Semantics my best wishes—Happy 75th Anniversary and Many More!