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Minutes of the Section on Ophthalmology of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Identifier: CPP 12/001-02

Scope and Contents

The records from the Section on Ophthalmology of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia consist of four volumes (disbound) of minutes, recorded by the clerk, spanning 1913- 1927, 1927-1939, 1940-1952, and 1953-1963. The minutes contain reports on monthly meetings, annual financial statements, lists of members and their addresses, and records of dues. The minute book from 1953-1963 contains an additional mailing list, an agenda for business meetings, and procedural instructions for dinner meetings.

The minutes from each meeting of the Section on Ophthalmology are divided into two sections: "Scientific Program" and "Executive Session". Listed under the Scientific Program are the titles and authors of papers read at each meeting. The minutes from the Executive Session provide information about practical and financial matters. Also traced in the Executive Session minutes is the development of numerous committees, lectures, and awards, such as the Zentmayer Award Committee and the Annual De Schweinitz Lecture.

Of special interest are the minutes of 20 March 1913 and 18 March 1937, which document the Section's opposition to the state legislature's consideration of certain "optometry bills". Also of note are the minutes of 19 January 1928, in which members express their disapproval of the term "eyephysician", and the minutes of 18 December 1947, in which the Section agrees to send one thousand dollars worth of care packages to "needy ophthalmologists in Europe".


  • 1913 - 1963


Biographical / Historical

The Section on Ophthalmology of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia was instituted in 1893, the first Section to be formed at the College. In 1890, Fellows specializing in ophthalmology requested permission from the College to meet once a month to read papers and discuss topics relevant to their field. Although many Fellows were opposed to such specialization, permission for the meetings was granted on 5 November 1890. On 16 November 1890, fifteen ophthalmologists, including chairman William F. Norris and secretary Edward Jackson, held their first meeting in the College.

During the next two years, this group of ophthalmologists developed into a distinguished organization. Many significant papers were read during meetings, and members of the group became influential figures in the ophthalmological field. Because of the success of the ophthalmologists, other Fellows became interested in forming Sections; Edward Jackson became their spokesman. In late 1892, Jackson presented the College with a draft of rules and regulations for the institution of permanent Sections, and by April 1893, the College had formally approved his proposal. The Section on Ophthalmology had its first official meeting on 12 November 1893.

The rules for authorizing the creation of Sections of the College first appeared in the appendix of the 1900 by-laws. According to these rules, fifteen or more Fellows may "organize[d] a Section upon some department of medical science or practice" with the stipulation that their work remain "wholly and only scientific". The 1990 by-laws state that the Council is responsible for organizing and discontinuing the Sections of the College. In addition to electing a Chairman and a Clerk, each Section must establish its own by-laws, provided they do not conflict with the regulations of the College.

As of 1991, the Section on Ophthalmology of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia remains active.


.4 Linear feet (2 half document boxes)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The Section on Ophthalmology records were donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Harold D, Earnshaw on 14 April 1989. The records were processed and catalogued in 1991.
Minutes of the Section on Ophthalmology of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
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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