The impetus for the creation of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association occurred in March of 1943 when, under the direction of Dr. Linwood Grace, the Dental Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Health offered a short course on obturator construction for dentists. The program was to acquaint them with the dental, medical and speech problems of the patient with cleft palate. Drs. Herbert Koepp-Baker and Cloyd S. Harkins presented this course which was attended by 25 dentists. It was during this gathering that Dr. Orvin Reidel suggested that a permanent organization be established. The original purpose of the organization stands in perpetuity in the Preamble to the Constitution:
Whereas, we are deeply interested in the welfare of the person with cleft palate and associated deformities of the mouth and face; and
whereas, we desire to extend and improve our understanding of the scientific and clinical problems involved in the rehabilitation of such persons and the most effective solution to their problems; and
whereas, we wish to encourage by every appropriate method and device the improvement of scientific clinical services to persons suffering from cleft palate and associated deformities in order that they may achieve a more adequate physical, emotional, social, educational, and vocational adjustment; and
whereas, we believe that these interests and desires may be satisfied by a closer and more purposeful association of persons now interested in and serving those patients in a variety of ways...
we propose to form a non-profit corporate organization, the intent of which shall be to stimulate specialist and public interest in, and a more exact knowledge and improved practice of, the science and art of the rehabilitation of persons with cleft palate and associated craniofacial anomalies.
The first attempt to formalize the newly-established group took place in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in April of 1943, at which time the American Academy of Cleft Prosthesis was formed. Subsequent decades have seen several name changes, development of the Constitution and By-Laws, growth in national membership and inclusion of international members, establishment of a National Office, and the evolution of research and treatment concepts to keep pace with the changing clinical expertise of the membership and vast technological advances. Throughout its history, a continuity of purpose has been preserved through the dedication of the membership to the pursuit of excellence in research and in the delivery of clinical care to persons with craniofacial deformities.