Welcome to Luca!globe
CPA CENTENNIAL SERIES THE FIRST CPAS By Dale L Current Issue!    Navigation Tips!
Main Menu
CPA Journal
Professional Libary
Professional Forums
Member Services


By Dale L. Flesher, University of Mississippi, Gary J. Previts, Case Western Reserve University, and Tonya K. Flesher, University of Mississippi

[Editor's note: This is the sixth article in a series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first CPA licensing law, the issuance of the first CPA certificates, and the first CPA exam. The articles were solicited and compiled by the AICPA in recognition of the these important historical events.]

The 1896 CPA law provided for a "grandfathering" provision which gave experienced practitioners one year to become CPAs without taking an examination. To qualify, a practitioner must be able to prove that he had been in reputable practice as a public accountant since January 1, 1890. During 1896 and 1897, a total of 108 certificates were granted under the grandfathering clause. In addition, three people passed the first examination. That first CPA examination was administered in December 1896. The three who passed that first exam are known; they were Joseph Hardcastle (Certificate No. 104), William H. Jasper (Certificate No. 105), and Edward C. Charles (Certificate No. 119). Hardcastle was given the lowest numbered certificate of those passing the exam because he achieved the highest score on the first exam (an 87 average for the four parts). At the age of 69, Hardcastle was one of the oldest individuals to ever pass the exam. He could have obtained a certificate under the waiver provision, but wanted the experience of sitting for the exam.

The first group of certificates awarded, consisting of 14 in number, was issued in alphabetical order. Thus, Frank Broaker, by virtue of his surname initial, became the first CPA in America. It is perhaps appropriate that Frank Broaker was the first CPA; he was the person most instrumental in getting the initial law passed in New York State. In fact, despite being a New York City practitioner, he spent much of his time during early 1896 in Albany lobbying for passage of the act. Broaker had started his career with a Scottish accountant, John Roundey, and practiced on his own after 1887. Broaker was born in Millerstown, PA in 1863. The family moved to New York City in 1870, where he received a grammar school education and went on to New York University. In 1878, Broaker commenced as a junior in an East Indian importing and shipping business, remaining with the company for eight years, by which time he held the position of chief accountant. In 1886, Broaker joined the accounting firm of John Roundey, a well known Scottish accountant. Mr. Roundey died the following year, leaving the business to Broaker. He moved his office to 150 Nassau Street in 1889 and became a partner with R.M. Chapman. A biography in The Banking Law Journal (April 1892) stated that Broaker acted as a professional adviser and auditor for British and other European bankers and financiers.

Broaker became the first secretary of the New York Board of CPA Examiners. He organized a school to prepare individuals to sit for the CPA examination. Broaker was criticized for publishing a book in 1897 entitled The American Accountants Manual, which contained questions and answers from the first CPA exam. He kept the proceeds from the sale of the book. He also was charged with forming a society of accountants with himself as president. It was alleged that Broaker had led prospective members of the society to believe that the Board of Regents might be willing to waive the CPA exam for those who were members. The Board of Regents responded to these complaints by appointing James T. Anyon to replace Broaker.

Frank Broaker was a major contributor to the profession of accountancy through his work in achieving passage of the 1896 act. In 1897, The Financial Record aptly concluded: "The profession could not have a better watchdog to guard their interests." Broaker died on November 12, 1941, at the age of 78. *

The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.

©2009 The New York State Society of CPAs. Legal Notices

Visit the new cpajournal.com.