Today (May 2, 2022) is 185 years since the birth of Henry Martyn Robert, the author of the original Robert’s Rules of Order. He was born May 2, 1837, in Robertville, SC, served in the Union Army, and eventually rose to General in the Army Corps of Engineers.
Robert’s first edition, published in 1876, was far different than today’s Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition) published by the Robert’s Rules Association. For starters, it was only 176 pages. Robert’s stated intent was to create a “very brief pocket manual, so cheap that every member of a church or society could own a copy, and so arranged as to enable one quickly to find when any particular motion could be made.”
The current 12th Edition is 716 pages of much smaller print! That’s understandable, as the world is more complex. Current meeting procedures have to contemplate voting by mail, machine, and proxy and meetings include both in-person and virtual/electronic.
Because Robert’s is so complicated, it helps to have guides to focus on what is important (as not all procedures are needed by all organizations). I’m happy to report that new editions of both my books, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fourth Edition, will be published this summer. Both have been completely updated to the latest Robert’s.
There are two books because they each have a different focus and complement one another:
Robert’s Rules of Order Fast-Track: The Brief and Easy Guide for the Modern Meeting is a quick go-to guide with details on the most used motions, appropriate informal procedures for smaller boards, and general advice for shortening meetings. It focuses on what you must know to successfully run or participate in a meeting within only a short time to prepare.
Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition, is for the reader who wants to know more. It uses an easy question-and-answer format makes the recently released 12th Edition of Robert’s accessible. It focuses on procedures specific to larger assemblies, such as annual meetings and conventions. Unlike other books on procedure, it includes extensive commentary from experienced parliamentarians as well as comparisons with other major parliamentary authorities.
As more information becomes available on specific publication dates, I’ll post it. For more resources on Robert’s and parliamentary procedure, including articles, handouts and links, visit my revamped and updated parliamentary website at www.jimslaughter.com.
Happy birthday, General Robert!