The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 8, No. 2 Fall 1981
Henry Francis Stabler and
Norman X. Dressel
GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY
MAY AND PATON: TWO GIANTS REVISITED
Abstract: The paper presents a synopsis of the principles and theoretical disposi-tions of May and Paton on selected areas of accounting; in particular, income de-termination and valuation.
No study of the history of accountancy would be complete without consideration of the contributions made by George Oliver May and William Andrew Paton, two "giants" of U. S. accounting. Although both men had background connections with the United Kingdom, most of their contributions were made in the United States. Their influence, however, was felt far beyond U. S. borders. May was a native of England who came to the United States early in his pro-fessional career. His views on accounting thought were influenced, at least in part, by his British background. Paton's family originated in Scotland, but he was reared on a farm in northern Michigan where fierce individualism was necessary for survival. This individualistic trait became the backbone of his success in accounting. His writings still exhibit such rugged individualism of thought.
May gave, and Paton is still giving, a lifetime of service to ac-countancy and both were active during those critical years when the profession was in its formative stages. Although May was the older, they were contemporaries in the profession and the many contacts which they had with one another resulted, it is believed, in their becoming good friends and developing considerable respect for one another. The influence of these men continues to be felt and will, no doubt, continue to be felt for generations. The primary purpose of this paper is to present a digest or cross section and summary of the principles and theoretical dispositions of May and Paton on selected areas of accounting, in particular, income deter-mination and valuation.
This is the revision of a paper presented at the Third International Congress of Accounting Historians in London on August 15-17, 1980.