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Records of the Section on Medical History of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia I

Identifier: CPP 12/003-01

Scope and Contents

This collection of records of the Clerk of the Section on Medical History of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia consists of correspondence, annual reports, financial records, lecture announcements, and other miscellaneous items. The collection, which spans 1953 to 1982, covers the terms of eleven former clerks of the Section on Medical History, including Nicholas Padis (1954-1955), Herbert J, Dietrich (1958-1960), Robert J, Gill (1960-1961), James F. Toole (1961-1962), Frank P, Brooks (1962-1963), Robert E, Jones (1963-1965), Roderick L, Tondreau (1965-1968), Harry G. Gianakon (1968-1971), Vaughan P. Simmons (1971-ca. 1972), Lawrence Charles Parish (1973-1975), and Steven J, Peitzman (1980-1982).

Most of the correspondence in the collection concerns the planning and organizing of lectures sponsored by the Section on Medical History, including selecting speakers and making their travel arrangements, planning the dinners usually held after each lecture, and sending out invitations and lecture announcements. Especially well documented in the correspondence are the preparations for the annual Kate Hurd Mead Lecture. Other topics addressed in the correspondence include plans for the 1964 and 1965 meetings of the American Association for the History of Medicine, the 1964 Bicentennial of the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the 1966 dinner in honor of Egill Snorrason, the secretary of the Danish Society for the History of Medicine.

The collection includes numerous letters from Samuel X Radbill, Whitfield J. Bell, and Fred B. Rogers, all of whom were especially active members in the Section on Medical History. Other notable correspondents include College librarians Elliott Morse and W. B. McDaniel; Richard Harrison Shryock, Consultant Librarian at the American Philosophical Society; Marion Fay from the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, who helped the section plan the Kate Hurd Mead Lecture each year; and other notable correspondents, including Joseph T, Freeman, Randolph Shipley Klein, and Albert S, Lyons, Also included are letters from many of the individuals who presented lectures at the meetings of the Section on Medical History.

In processing this collection, the original order of the files of each clerk was maintained as much as possible. Herbert J. Dietrich, for example, chose to arrange his correspondence alphabetically, whereas most of the other clerks filed their letters chronologically, Certain clerks, such as Roderick L, Tondreau and Steven J. Peitzman, clearly labelled their file folders; the information written on their folders is placed in quotation marks on the finding aid. Some routine financial records, such as deposit slips, cancelled checks, bills, and receipts, were discarded from this collection if the information they contained was represented elsewhere, such as in monthly bank statements or annual financial reports.


  • 1953 - 1982


Biographical / Historical

On 2 November 1904, the Secretary of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia announced that President Arthur V. Meigs had authorized the formation of a new section of the College, the Section on Medical History. The new section was formed according to the 1900 by-laws of the College of Physicians, which state that a section may be created when fifteen Fellows submit a written request to the President; when the President approves the request, a new section is formed. On 1 February 1905, President Meigs appointed Francis R. Packard, Charles Oliver, and Samuel McClintock Hamill to serve on the Executive Committee of the Section on Medical History, William Pepper became clerk of the section, and Roland G. Curtin was selected as chairman.

Starting in 1905, the section began holding meetings at which lectures on medical history were presented. The section invited papers from physicians and scholars from a variety of backgrounds; most of these papers were published in Transactions and Studies. Over the years, many notable figures lectured at section meetings, including Sir William Osler, John F. Fulton, and Karl Sudhoff. In the 1940s, the section embarked on a cooperative effort with area medical schools to present medical history lectures to Philadelphia medical students. By the 1970s, the section had become the sponsor of several annual lectures, including the Kate Hurd Mead Lecture (co-sponsored by the [Woman’s] Medical College of Pennsylvania, now Drexel College of Medicine) which was started in 1952, the Samuel X Radbill Lecture (1974), and the W. B. McDaniel Memorial Lecture (1976).

As of 1992, the Section on Medical History remains an active body of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The section continues to hold lectures on the history of medicine, many of which are co-sponsored by the Francis C. Wood Institute.


1.2 Linear feet (3 boxes and 1 volume)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

According to evidence discovered in the collection, some of Robert J, Gill's records from the Section on Medical History were transferred to Robert E, Jones on 27 April 1964. The collection also reveals that Harry G. Gianakon deposited his section records at the home of Vaughan P, Simmons on 21 June 1971. The acquisition of Section records dating from 1979 to 1982 is documented by a note left by Steven J, Peitzman, stating that he deposited these records in the Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in July 1982, The source of the other records in the collection is unknown.

This collection of records of the Clerk of the Section on Medical History was processed and catalogued in 1992.
Records of the Section on Medical History of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia I
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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