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Presidential papers of Katharine R. Sturgis

Identifier: CPP 2/002-01

Scope and Contents

The presidential papers of Katharine R. Sturgis span 1925 to 1986; the bulk of the collection dates from 1970 to 1974. The papers reflect the activities of the College during Sturgis's presidential term; included are records of committee meetings, lectureship administration, donations and bequests, and amendments to ordinances and by-laws. Also present is a series of correspondence with the legal counsel of the College.

Series 1, spanning 1925 to 1974, includes records of donations and bequests made to the College. Present is correspondence with the S. Weir Mitchell Associates, lists of the journals they selected, and financial statements. Also contained in Series 1 is correspondence with donors who contributed chairs for the Samuel D, Gross Library or donated to a fund in memory of David A. Cooper.

Included in Series 2 are records of amendments to the ordinances and by-laws of the College. Also present are Sturgis's own copies of the 1959 and 1972 Ordinances and ByLaws, heavily marked with her holograph notes.

Correspondence with legal counsel, spanning 1935 to 1976, is present in Series 3. Included are letters from Joseph Carson, Eric A. McCouch, and Richard K. Stevens, all of whom represented the College in legal matters over the years. Topics discussed in the correspondence include investments, trust funds, insurance, and the status of the College as a tax-exempt, non-profit institution.

Series 4 provides information on lectureships and lectureship administration. Present is correspondence with lecturers, announcements, and historical notes. Transcripts of lectures delivered by Gonzalo E. Aponte, Bruno Bettelheim, Sidney Cohen, Donald B, Effler, Frank R. Ervin, Richard J. Herrnstein, Paul Katin, Hugh L'Etang, Donald M. Small, Stephen P. Strickland are included. The lectureship administration records contain schedules of lectures, financial statements, and membership lists of lecture committees.

Records of various College committees, including the Committee on Bequests, the Greater Philadelphia Committee for Medical-Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Bicentennial Committee, the Committee on Planning, the Search Committee, and the Development Committee, are contained in Series 5. Of note in the records of the Bicentennial Committee are the transcripts of two "Bicentennial Lectures" Rene J, Dubas and Paul R. Ehrlich and other material relating to the activities of the committee as it prepared for the 1976 Bicentennial in Philadelphia. Also of note are the records of the Search Committee; documented in these records is the College's 1972 search for a new executive director. Vice President John P. Hubbard is a significant correspondent.

Series 6 contains miscellaneous material, including correspondence on the 1974 re-establishment of the Section on General Medicine (which had been discontinued in 1966), correspondence pertaining to the lease of the Erlanger Garage (which was owned by the College), schedules of College meetings and events, and miscellaneous printed materials.


  • 1925 - 1986
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1974


Office of the President history

The Office of the President of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is first described in the 1787 constitution. The constitution states that the President "shall have power to call extraordinary Meetings whenever important, or unexpected Business shall require, of which he shall be the Judge", The constitution also states that the president was authorized to call a special session when requested by at least six Fellows. According to the 1834 by-laws, the president was responsible for presiding at College meetings and signing orders from the treasurer, but he could not discuss any questions while in the chair except when necessary to coae to a decision. This latter regulation was dropped from the 1863 by-laws, and new responsibilities were added in 1882, when the president was given "general supervision of the affairs of the College" and was required to present an annual address.

In 1886, due to the influence of president S, Weir Mitchell, the by-laws were again amended. Mitchell secured the right to be informed of all committee meetings and to attend them if he wished, Another of Mitchell's requests, for a five year presidential term, was never approved. The responsibilities of the president re•ained •uch the saae until 1914. In the by-laws of this year, the president's duty of "sign[ing] all warrants on the Treasurer" was omitted. 1925 marked a major change in the Office of the President; in this year, he was granted ex-officio membership in all standing committees and had the power to elect most committee members. The first regulation concerning the president's term was instituted in the 1935 by-laws, which state that no president aay serve more than three years in a row. Additional changes in the Office of the President did not occur until 1972. The by-laws of this year state that the president must publish his annual address, subait a yearly summary of ·the activities of the College, and "appoint all standing committees and designate the Chairmen", with the exception of the Noainating committee, The president's term was again restricted in the 1984 bylaws, which state that the president is liaited to one twoyear tera. As of 1991, the president presides at meetings, appoints coaaittees and defines their duties, serves as an ex-officio meaber of all coaaittees, and has "all other duties and powers usually pertaining to the office".

Katharine R. Sturgis biography

Katharine Rosenbaum Guest Boucot Sturgis was born in Philadelphia on 3 September 1903. She attended William Penn High School and began her pre-medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1922. Her education was interrupted, however, by her marriage, the birth of two children, and a divorce. Later, Sturgis completed her undergraduate degree at Penn State University. She entered Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1935 but was forced to leave school when she contracted tuberculosis. After a year of recovery, she resumed her studies and earned her medical degree in 1940.

Sturgis began her medical career as an intern at the Woman's Medical College Hospital and later accepted a residency in pulmonary diseases at Herman Kiefer Hospital in Detroit. Sturgis then returned to Philadelphia to teach at the Woman's Medical College, but she remained interested in pulmonary disease and continued to conduct research in the early detection of lung cancer and tuberculosis. Later in life, she waged a vigorous campaign to inform the public of the hazards of smoking.

Katharine R, Sturgis's connection with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia began in 1951 when she was elected a Fellow. In 1972, after more than twenty years as a member, Sturgis became the College's first woman president. A year later she was forced to retire due to health problems.

Throughout her career, Katharine R, Sturgis received numerous honors. She was elected the first woman president of the Philadelphia County Medical Society in 1967 and became president of the American College of Preventive Medicine in 1969. She was the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Trudeau Medal, the Strittmatter Award, the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, and the Philadelphia Gimbel Award. Katharine R, Sturgis died in Philadelphia on 28 March 1987.


2.0 Linear feet (5 document boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The presidential papers of Katharine R, Sturgis were transferred to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia from the Office of the Executive Director by May Tiffany on 9 March 1989.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1991.
Presidential papers of Katharine R. Sturgis
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States