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Records of the Office of the Librarian III

Identifier: CPP 13/007-01

Scope and Contents

The collection contains records from 1948-1981, encompassing Morse's career at the Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, primarily as Librarian. The contents of some boxes of records in this collection were haphazard; many boxes, however, had clear indications of Morse's filing system, and where discernible, this arrangement was preserved.

The collection contains a great deal of information on Morse, who appears as a conscientious administrator, a librarian dedicated to cooperation among institutions, and an active, reliable member of professional organizations. The collection also reveals much about the daily workings of the Library of the College of Physicians through the presence of library statistics, personnel records, grant applications, correspondence with donors, materials concerning the relationship between the Library and its parent institution, and materials associated with the Library's support of the Mid-Eastern Regional Library Service. Because of Morse's long commitment to inter-library cooperation, the collection also provides information on other medical libraries in the mid-Atlantic region and on the Medical Library Association, both locally and nationally.

The collection is arranged in the following series:

I. Correspondence (1948-1981) Correspondence comprises roughly one-fifth of the collection. Following Morse's arrangement, the correspondence is divided into two chronological periods, within which correspondence is filed alphabetically by correspondent. Correspondents include other medical librarians (academic and corporate, local and long-distance), members of the College's Library Committee, publishers, staff members of professional organizations such as the American Medical Association, and government employees.

II. Library Administration (1956-1982) The majority of this series, another one-fifth of the collection, consists of subject files named and arranged alphabetically by Morse. These files include materials dealing with interactions with officers of the College, fundraising through gifts, the Library's budget, the Library Committee, MED LINE, the Philadelphia Regional Medical Library Committee, and borrowing records. Files in this series not included in the alphabetical arrangement include memoranda concerning library policy and administration, and manuscript notes taken by Morse in various meetings.

III. Medical Documentation Service (1970-1979) The Medical Documentation Service, founded by the wife of a Fellow of the College in 1953 and taken under the auspices of the Library in 1956, offered clients scanning, indexing, abstracting, and translating services for journal articles. Most of the records in this series, which include memoranda, meeting notes, policy statements, and correspondence with clients, are arranged chronologically. Financial records are a separate subseries, also arranged chronologically. One file contains various versions of a pamphlet listing MDS services and prices.

IV. Grants (1965-1980) The Library of the College of Physicians applied for numerous grants, mostly from public sources, but also a few private ones, in hopes of obtaining funds for research projects, physical improvements, and library operations such as cataloging. The series is arranged alphabetically by granting organization, and the records include applications, correspondence, and reports. Approximately half of the grant applications are to the National Library of Medicine. Grants associated with the Practice-Related Educational Program and the Regional Medical Library Program are filed separately in the series containing the records of those services.

V. Personnel (1950-1981) (RESTRICTED) Personnel records constitute about one-fourth of the collection. Their original arrangement, which has been preserved, consisted of three subseries: ex-staff 1950-1964, personnel records 1960-1969, and personnel records 1970-1981. To the end of this series have been added the personnel records for MDS, which had been kept separate from other Library personnel records. In each of these subseries, files are arranged alphabetically. To save processing time, the Library personnel records have not been refoldered and relabeled, but have been divided into subseries on the finding aid. Access to the personnel records is restricted. Please consult the College Archivist.

VI. Practice-Related Educational Program (1973-1979) In 1974, the College of Physicians obtained a grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to develop the Practice-Related Educational Program (PREP), a regional continuing education program for primary care physicians. As part of the grant, the College contracted to provide library services to the program. This series is arranged chronologically except for publications and includes grant applications and reports, memoranda concerning personnel and budgetary issues and Library policies for PREPrelated work. The publications include two articles by Francis L. Bowler, who was project director for PREP.

VII. Regional Medical Library Program (1966-1979) After years of preparation and months of working through the application process, the Library of the College of Physicians was designated one of the National Library of Medicine's regional medical libraries in 1968. Mid-Eastern Regional Medical Library Service (MERMLS) was the name given to the Library's regional operations. Morse's records concerning this service include grant applications, together with associated correspondence and reports; chronological files, which consist primarily of correspondence with NLM and other regional medical libraries, College memoranda, and manuscript notes taken during meetings; materials from Morse's participation in the national discussions and meetings dealing with the regional libraries as a group; materials concerning the governance ofMERMLS in particular; and regional statistics.

VIII. Associations (1947-1981) Associations are arranged alphabetically. The majority of association files concern the forerunners and the origin of the National Library of Medicine; Philadelphia General Hospital, whose library was evaluated and disposed ofby the Library of the College of Physicians when the hospital closed; and the Union Library Catalog of Pennsylvania, which evolved into PALINET.

IX. Building Plans and Fundraising (1948-1955; 1967-1979) This series brings together one folder of materials associated with the 1956 book stack construction and another folder of materials from later evaluations of space and building issues between 1967 and 1979.

X. Morse Retirement (1981-1984) Morse retired as Librarian on December 31, 1981. This series includes College mailings concerning Morse's retirement; letters of congratulations to Morse from College administration, staff, and Fellows, and from correspondents outside the College; notes for an acceptance speech; and an oral history interview conducted at the time of his retirement.

XI. Publications (1956-1980) Publications are divided into those by Morse and those by others. Morse's publications are arranged alphabetically by title. The publications by others are again divided into publications of the College of Physicians, publications about the College of Physicians, and other general library-related publications, with the publications arranged alphabetically by title in each grouping.

XII. Miscellaneous (1955-1980) College of Physicians records not directly related to the Library make up the bulk of the Miscellaneous series. These include form letters to fellows, schedules of events, a staff list, and an agenda and minutes from a staff association meeting. Other papers in the series include a newspaper clipping and notes.


  • 1948-1984


Historical Medical Library history

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 responsibilities 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.

In 1997, governance voted to officially make the Library an historical library, deemphasizing modem reference and transferring most of those activities to the Consumer Health Information Center, established in 1995. The Director of the Library was in charge of the historical collections, with Public Services in charge of modem reference. In July 2001 the Director's position became that of College Librarian, with the added title of Director of the Francis C. Wood Institute for the History of Medicine. While the Library continued to acquire and save consumer health material and some other current material, the College Librarian's principle duty was the preservation, promotion, and enhancement of the historical collection.

Biographical / Historical

The collection covers the tenure of Elliott How Morse (1916-1992) as Librarian (1953-1981) at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. A few documents from the years when Morse served as Administrative Assistant Librarian and Administrative Associate Librarian (1949- 1953) are also in the collection.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, on November 9, 1916, Morse grew up around Narberth, Pennsylvania, and attended Lower Merion High School and Haverford College, where he majored in German and was awarded his B.A. in 1938. The guidance ofHaverford's president led Morse to pursue a bachelor's degree in library science at the Drexel Institute of Technology, which he completed in 1939. After a working in a series ofreference positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University, culminating in service as head of reference at the University of Pennsylvania, Morse accepted the position of Administrative Assistant Librarian at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1949.

In 1953, Morse was appointed Librarian and his predecessor, Walton Brooks McDaniel, II, became Curator of the Historical Collections. Throughout his twenty-eight years as Librarian, Morse developed the contemporary library at the College, helped shaped the profession of medical librarianship both in the mid-Atlantic region and the United States, and worked at developing regional cooperation among libraries. At the College of Physicians, he worked to raise money from area medical schools, commercial and non-profit organizations interested in using the Library's resources, and various levels of government through grant applications to support the Library's services. From 1956 onward, he oversaw the Medical Documentation Service, which evaluated, indexed, and abstracted journal articles for clients.

In the mid-Atlantic region, he was one of the founding members of the Philadelphia Regional Group of the Medical Library Association (MLA) in 1951, served as the group's first vicechairman, and assisted in drafting the group's bylaws. He served as its second chairman. He began to serve on the Board of Directors of the Union Library Catalog of Pennsylvania in 1971 and served as its president in 1973/1974. He also led the formalization of the existing mechanisms of cooperation among the area's medical libraries and marshaled their support for an application by the College of Physicians to become one of the National Library of Medicine's regional medical libraries. The application was successful, resulting in the formation of the Mid-Eastern Regional Medical Library Service (MERMLS) in 1968. MERMLS continued in operation for fourteen years. The associated regional reference service lost its federal support in 1977 but was replaced by the College Library Information Service (CLIS), which was supported financially by hospital libraries. Finally, on the national level, he served on the Board of Directors of the MLA and was that association's president in 1969/1970. Just before Morse's retirement, the Library of the College joined OCLC with the intent of making the College's holdings more widely accessible.

Morse retired from the Library of the College of Physicians at the end of 1981. In his honor, his portrait was painted and presented to the College, making Morse the first staff member of the College whose portrait was added to the College collection. He was named Librarian Emeritus and made an Honorary Associate Fellow of the College. He died on December 19, 1992. In addition to the papers of Elliott H. Morse, the following sources were consulted in the preparation of this biographical sketch:

Bell, Whitfield J., Jr. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia: A Bicentennial History.

Canton, Mass.: Science History Publications, 1987, 271-276.

Fulton, June H. "Elliott How Morse, 1916-1992." Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 81 (4): 464-469 (October 1993).


14.6 Linear feet (38 boxes)

Language of Materials