Elijah Watt Sells

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Elijah Watt Sells (March 1, 1858 – March 19, 1924) was an American accountant, and founding partner in Haskins & Sells, a predecessor to Deloitte & Touche.[1]


Sells was born on March 1, 1858 in Muscatine, Iowa to Elijah and Isabel Sells. He attended local public schools and briefly attended Baker University. Although he did not receive a degree, Baker University later awarded him an honorary degree.[2] At age 16, Sells went to work for the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railroad and was quickly promoted. After working for several railroads, Sells was appointed to the Dockery Commission with his future business partner, Charles Waldo Haskins.

In 1884, Sells married Mabel Graves. They had two children. In 1895, Sells and Haskins formed Haskins & Sells, which was the first major accounting firm formed by American (rather than British) accountants. Sells became one of the first New York State certified public accountants in 1896 and then the firm's senior partner after Haskin's death in 1903.[3] Sells died on March 19, 1924 at the age of 66.


In 1923, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) created the Elijah Watt Sells award program. This award recognizes outstanding performance on the Uniform CPA Examination. The criteria for the award has changed over the course of its existence. Currently, the award is bestowed upon candidates who have obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination and passed all four sections of the Examination on their first attempt. Candidates are eligible for the award the calendar year following the year in which they completed testing. More than 92,000 candidates sat for the Examination in 2012. Thirty-nine candidates met the criteria.

Selected publications[edit]

About Elijah Watt Sells


  1. ^ Vangermeersch, Richard. "Sells, Elijah Watt (1858-1924)." In History of Accounting: An International Encyclopedia, edited by Michael Chatfield and Richard Vangermeersch. New York: Garland Publishing, 1996. Pp. 529-530
  2. ^ "The Accounting Hall of Fame". Fisher College of Business. Retrieved 17 October 2009. 
  3. ^ "Elijah Watt Sells". Deloitte. Archived from the original on 8 October 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2009.