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11.01.2017  |  SSP News & Releases

Anita DeVivo, founding member of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, passes away at age 87

Anita DeVivo, 87, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, died on September 29, 2017, due to complications following a several-year battle with cancer. DeVivo was one of the founding members of the Society for Scholarly Publishing which was started in 1978. According to the SSP website, the organization is largely the product of many delightful, energetic, and visionary people who saw the need for a professional membership society made up of people involved in scholarly communication in all disciplines. DeVivo was among those visionaries.

“Anita displayed a strong devotion to any activity she would undertake and her guidance as we framed the philosophical underpinnings for SSP was no exception,” said Barbara Meyers Ford, fellow founding SSP member.  “Several of our seminal meetings were held in the living room of Anita’s apartment.  In fact, one of my most distinctive memories was the evening where all present put $20 down on her coffee table as the first dues paid to the newly-formed Society for Scholarly Publishing.”

DeVivo played an important role in not only the formation of SSP, but also in the advancement of scholarly writing across the industry. One of her most notable contributions to the world of publishing was her 1974 revision of the American Psychological Association Style Manual which provided writers and editors with alternatives to the gender-biased language then commonly used in publishing. This revision included a section entitled “Guidelines for Nonsexist Language in APA Journals”. Because the “APA Style” was influential throughout the academic and scientific publishing world, other publications soon adopted her innovations. She consulted as well on the authoritative Chicago Manual of Style and taught advanced editing classes at the George Washington University.

“Throughout her time in the Washington, D.C. world of scholarly publishing, Anita DeVivo was a role model for young professional women and aspiring editors,” recalls Meyers Ford.  “Her commitment to high standards in improving an author’s manuscript while still maintaining the author’s voice served as a critical foundation for many in our industry.” 

As with many scholarly publishing professionals, DeVivo’s route into scholarly publishing was not direct. Following graduation she worked in a series of retail jobs in New Castle until taking the U.S. Civil Service test and going to work for the Internal Revenue Service in offices in Pittsburgh and Butler. In 1951 she was recruited into the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and moved to Washington, D.C., where she remained for several years in clerical and personnel jobs. Always an avid and successful student, she returned to college to earn her bachelor’s degree in English at Youngstown University and her master’s degree in English and American literature at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

Her fascination with publishing began in New Castle, where she developed a love of books while working in the city’s libraries and edited the high school newspaper and yearbook. After returning to Washington in 1959 she worked briefly in a congressional office before following her interest in publishing. She advanced through a series of key editorial positions over the next 25 years, producing magazines, journals, and books with the National Parks Association, the American Home Economics Association, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and the American Personnel and Guidance Association, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

She served in a leadership and consulting capacity with a wide range of professional organizations, including the Society for Scholarly Publishing, the Council of Biology Editors, the American Economic Association, and Rodale Press.

In 1987 she returned to New Castle to care for her parents, remaining professionally active as a freelance editor. She was devoted to the history, music, and cultural heritage of her hometown and region, and was an active member of the Lawrence County Historical Society and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. She had a particular interest in historic photographs, and edited and published three collections of historic postcards and images: New Castle and Mahoningtown (2006), Lawrence County (2007), and Cascade Park (2010). In a 2004 interview she commented, “I think it’s a question of foundations. What is the foundation of a community? …Membership in a society is one of the top needs that must be met. As we understand our heritage and participate in it, and perpetuate it, we maintain that membership and strengthen our own psychological foundations. …It’s the strength that you get – the social and psychological and emotional strength that comes from that heritage.”

“When she moved back to Pennsylvania to provide care giving for her parents, she was sorely missed by so many of us, including the members of the Washington Women’s Information Network (WWIN),” reminisces Meyers Ford.  For the first 4 years of the network she was an active participant and greatly appreciated by us all for her enthusiasm and excitement about the prospects FOR women in publishing. She planted some extremely hardy seeds in those years which have borne much fruit.”

Much of this memorium is based on DeVivo’s obituary: http://www.decarbofuneralhome.com/book-of-memories/3182163/DeVivo-Anita/obituary.php

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