Skip to main content

Records of the Censors of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Identifier: CPP 4/001-01

Scope and Contents

The records of the censors of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, spanning 1836 to 1931, consist of a minute book, censors’ reports, correspondence between censors and secretaries, and material relating to various charges of misconduct among Fellows. One of the best documented cases in the collection, dating from the 1890s, involves Joseph Price, who was accused of verbally attacking the personal and professional reputation of Charles B. Penrose. Other physicians, such as F. H. Getchell and Charles W. Burr, were charged with stealing patients from their colleagues. Also of note are the cases against Joseph Togno, who was accused of publishing an "empyricist" pamphlet, William Alexander Hammond, who was charged with quackery, and Henry Beates, who was accused of provoking hostile feelings among Fellows during the 1894 election for Vice President of the College. Cases include correspondence, statements of opinion, transcripts of interviews, and censors’ recommendations. Most of the censors’ reports in the collection provide recommendations concerning what action to take following the death of a Fellow. After determining if the deceased Fellow was worthy of a full obituary or merely a mention in the President’s annual address, the censors would send a report to the College. Correspondents represented in the collection include senior censors Richard A. Cleemann and William W. Keen, secretaries Thomas R. Neilson and John H. Girvin, clerk Mary F. Zelner, and William J. Taylor.


  • 1836 - 1931


Biographical / Historical

The office of the censors of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia was established in the 1787 constitution and charter. The charter states that four censors were to be elected annually on the first Tuesday in July. Initially, the censors were reponsible for inspecting records, examining accounts and expenditures, and preparing an annual report which they presented to the college. Perhaps the most significant role of the censors was to consider and determine all charges concerning breaches of conduct among members. After hearing the evidence involved, the censors presented recommendations for action to the College. The censors’ responsibilities were modified significantly in 1972. Although still involved in disciplinarian matters, the censors also handled members’ requests for remission of dues, submitted names of candidates for Honorary Fellowship and Honorary Associate Fellowship, and recommended memorial tributes for deceased members. This latter duty, although performed by the censors for over a century, did not become an official part of the by-laws until 1972. As of 1991, the censors remain active in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.


.4 Linear feet

Language of Materials


Records of the Censors of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

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