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General correspondence file of Katharine R. Sturgis

Identifier: CPP 2/002-02

Scope and Contents

The general correspondence files of Katharine R. Sturgis, spanning 1972 to 1978, consist primarily of correspondence and photographs. The majority of the correspondence spans 1972 to 1973 and pertains to Sturgis' role as President of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and as an active member in numerous Philadelphia area medical organizations. Also present is material relating to the September 1972 Louis Pasteur Wine Tasting Party and photographs documenting the October 1972 banquet held in honor of Sturgis, the first woman president of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Series 1 contains general correspondence. Present are original incoming letters and copies of Sturgis' outgoing letters. The correspondence concerns general matters relating to the presidency of the College of Physicians, including appointing committee members, requesting Fellows to pay their dues, notifying Council members of meetings, discussing lecture arrangements, and arranging publicity for College events. Also present is Sturgis' December 1973 letter of resignation from the presidency.

Also included in Series 1 is correspondence relating to Sturgis' involvement in numerous organizations, including the Delaware Valley Citizens' Council for Clean Air, the Pennsylvania Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association, the Greater Delaware Valley High Blood Pressure Education Program, the American Association for Cancer Education, and the American Red Cross; Sturgis served on several committees associated with these organizations. Correspondents in Series 1 include Francis C. Wood, Samuel X Radbill, Mark W. Allam, John~. McClenahan, Jonathan E. Rhoads, Charles Fineberg, and Thaddeus L. Montgomery.

Series 2 contains miscellaneous files, most of which pertain to special events occurring during Sturgis' presidency. Present are items from the September 1972 Louis Pasteur Wine Tasting Party and photographs of the October 1972 banquet honoring Sturgis for being the first woman president of the College of Physicians. Included are 20 different photographs of the evening's festivities, many of which appear in the January 1973 edition of Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.


  • 1972 - 1978


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 two year term. 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.


.8 Linear feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The source of this collection of general correspondence files of Katharine R. Sturgis is unknown.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1992.
General correspondence file 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