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Arthur Edward Andersen

Born May 30, 1885(1885-05-30)
Plano, Illinois
Died January 10, 1947 (aged 61)
Nationality American
Fields Accounting

Arthur E. Andersen (May 30, 1885 – January 10, 1947) was a founder of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

Andersen was born in Plano, Illinois, son of immigrants from Norway and Denmark, John William and Mary Aabye Andersen. Andersen was left on his own at the age of 16 after the death of his parents. In 1917, after attending courses at night while working full time, he graduated from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University with a bachelor's degree in business.[1]

He worked during the day as a mailboy and attended school at night. Eventually he was hired as the assistant to the controller of Allis-Chalmers in Chicago where he became intrigued with the work of independent public accountants. He became a Certified Public Accountant in Illinois in 1908, and was then the youngest CPA in the state. In 1913, with Clarence Delaney, he bought out a firm named The Audit Company of Illinois to form Andersen, Delaney & Co which became Arthur Andersen & Co. in 1918.[2]

While practicing accounting, he was also associated with Northwestern University as lecturer (1909-12), assistant professor (1912-15), and professor (1915-22). He also served as head of the accounting department from 1912 to 1922, when he resigned to devote full time to his professional accounting practice.[3]

Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees were conferred upon him by Luther College in 1938, and by Northwestern University, Grinnell College and St. Olaf College in 1941. Among other awards, in 1940 he was awarded the Norwegian Knight Commander's Cross of the Royal Order of St. Olav. He was named to the Accounting Hall of Fame in 1953. Arthur E. Andersen also served as Treasurer of the Norwegian-American Historical Association.[4]

At the time of his death, Arthur Andersen was one of the largest accounting firms in the world. Arthur Andersen's mother had schooled him in a Scandinavian axiom--"Think straight, talk straight". His brand of stern independence carried on through Leonard Spacek, who succeeded Andersen after the founder's death in 1947. Northwestern University dedicated Arthur Andersen Hall in 1979 to commemorate his life.[5]


Selected works

  • Complete Accounting Course (1917)
  • Financial and Industrial Investigations (1924)
  • The Major Problem Created by the Machine Age (1931)
  • Duties and Responsibilities of the Comptroller (1934)
  • The Future of our Economic System (1934)
  • Present Day Problems Affecting the Presentation and Interpretation of Financial Statements (1935)
  • A Layman Speaks (1941)


  1. ^ Arthur Anderson: Challenging the Status Quo (Moore, Mary Virginia and John Crampton)
  2. ^ Inside Arthur Andersen: Shifting Values, Unexpected Consequences (by Lorna McDougall, Cynthia J. Smith, Susan E. Squires, William R. Yeack. Financial Times Prentice Hall. 2003)
  3. ^ Accounting Hall of Fame (Fisher College of Business)
  4. ^ Contributors. Executive Board (Norwegian American Historic Association. Volume 32: Page 275)
  5. ^ Leonard Spacek: Ahead of His Time, Relevant Today (CPA Journal. March 2004)

Other sources

  • Spacek, Leonard. The Growth of Arthur Andersen & Co. 1928-1973, An Oral History (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1989)

External links



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