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Records concerning the Medical Library Association II

Identifier: CPP 13/002-02

Scope and Contents

This collection of records concerning the Medical Library Association (MLA) is part of the records of the Office of the Librarian of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Included in the collection is correspondence, material from annual meetings of the MLA, and other miscellaneous items pertaining to the organization. The records are from the files of Charles Perry Fisher, Librarian of the College from 1882 to 1932.

Series 1 contains correspondence concerning Fisher's involvement in the Medical Library Association. Fisher served on the Executive Committee of the organization and became a member of the Finance Committee in 1909, He served as Vice President of the MLA from 1910 to 1912. The letters in the collection pertain to Fisher's responsibilities in these offices; topics discussed in the correspondence include the plans for annual MLA meetings, the role of the Executive Committee, the relationship between the MLA and the American Library Association, and the near-resignation of C. F. Wylde from the presidency of the MLA in 1924.

Many of the letters in the collection concern the "Exchange", an MLA program which allowed for the exchange of medical literature among its members. The correspondence documents the problems experienced by the Exchange, including its near dissolution in 1923 when Marcia C. Noyes, Manager of the Exchange, resigned from her position. Also documented in the correspondence is the unexpected death of John H. Musser in April 1912. Musser was President of the MLA when he died, and Charles Perry Fisher, as Vice President, became Acting President of the organization. Fisher, who always insisted that a physician was better equipped to head the MLA than a librarian, served in this office only until a new president could be elected.

Of special interest in the collection is correspondence discussing a resolution passed by the MLA on 1 August 1924. This resolution stated that German publishers were charging "unreasonable and unjustifiable" prices for their books and periodicals; thus, the libraries in the MLA agreed to suspend their purchase of these items. The collection includes a letter from William W. Keen to Charles Perry Fisher, in which Keen expresses his approval of the MLA's resolution. Also present are letters from German publishers who denied the charges brought against them and attempted to restore good relations with the MLA.

The most frequent correspondents in the collection are James F. Ballard and John Ruhrah, both of whom worked closely with Fisher in the MLA. Other notable correspondents include MLA presidents George Dock, George M. Gould, and C. F. Wylde, and other MLA officers and committee members, including Ada Bunnell, M. R. Charlton, Albert Tracy Huntington, George D. Hersey, and Marcia C, Noyes. Also present in the collection are holograph drafts and typed carbon copies of Charles Perry Fisher's letters.

Series 2 includes materials from MLA annual meetings, including a Secretary's Report (1900), programs (1906- 1929), minutes from the 1910 meeting, and a typescript of Charles Perry Fisher's Presidential Address (1912). Miscellaneous material pertaining to the MLA is in Series 3, Present are membership applications, membership lists, informational pamphlets, and copies of the Constitution and By-Laws (1903-1929). Also present in Series 3 are the sketches of two different shields designed for the MLA (1921).


  • 1899-1929


Biographical / Historical

The Office of the Librarian of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia was established in 1854, Before 1851, the chairman of the Library Committee was responsible for the administration of the Library, and from 1851 to 1854, the Secretary of the College acted as librarian, In 1863, the Librarian became an officer of the College, and the by-laws of this year established his official duties: the "preservation, arrangement and cataloguing of the books belonging to the Library of the College", This position was part-time; the Librarian was required to be present in the Library for an hour before each meeting and an additional hour each week.

A major change in the Library's administration occurred in 1882. At this time, two new positions, "Honorary Librarian" and "Assistant Librarian" were created. The Honorary Librarian served as an "ex officio" member of the Library Committee and was responsible for the Library's funds and employees. The Assistant Librarian, who worked full-time and did not have to be a Fellow of the College, was responsible for the daily administration of the Library. His other duties included acting as secretary of the Library Committee and keeping records of all books purchased or donated to the Library.

In the 1914 by-laws, the title of Assistant Librarian was changed to Librarian. Also in 1914, the Librarian became the "Superintendent of the College building", This responsibility was omitted from the 1925 by-laws, and by 1935, the by-laws were again amended to state that the Librarian "shall keep a record of all acquisitions of the Library, with the names of the donors".

A new position, Curator of the Historical Collections of the Library, was added to the staff in 1953. In 1982, the title of "Librarian" was changed to "Director of the Library". In 1990, the responisibilities of the Director of the Library were divided between the Director of the Library for Public Services and the Director of the Library for Historical Services.


.4 Linear feet (1 document box)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The source of this collection of records concerning the Medical Library Association is unknown.

The collection was processed and catalogued in 1992.
Records concerning the Medical Library Association II
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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