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Records of the Secretary Treasurer of the Ballistocardiograph Research Society

Identifier: MSS 3/004

Scope and Contents

The collection was assembled by three of the Society's secretary treasurers, Abraham Noordergraaf (1965-1967), N. Ty Smith (1967-1970), and Edward W. Bixby, Jr., (1970-1976), and it presents a comprehensive view of the duties of that office as well as of the history of the Society.

The existing official minutes of the annual meetings of the BRS, 1963-1976, are contained in Series 1. No minutes for meetings before 1963 have survived (with the exception of a copy of the 1958 meeting's minutes preserved in Series 2), and there are no minutes for the years 1965, 1969, and 1975, when the Society's annual meeting was superceded by the international meetings. Reports of the secretary and treasurer are attached to the minutes. One folder of drafts of minutes for 1972-1976 is also included.

Series 2 contains the correspondence of the secretarytreasurers from 1963 to 1977. This series, the bulk of the collection, illustrates the variety of responsibilities of the office, particularly organizational matters, publication of proceedings of the annual meetings, preparation of minutes, membership and financial affairs, preparations for the annual meetings, and correspondence with speakers. Figures who are featured prominently in the correspondence include: Donald M. Cunningham, Ernst K. Franke, Walter Kirby Harrison, Jr., William R. Scarborough, Isaac Starr, Aleksandr Aleksandrevich Talakov, and Zdenek Trefny.

In addition to these general files, a few subject specific files of correspondence exist: S. Karger AG, the publisher of the Society's proceedings, 1965-1974; the Cardiovascular System Dynamics Society, 1976 and 1978; Historical Information, 1956-1970; and World Congresses on Ballistocardiography and Cardiovascular Dynamics, 1964-1969. The file of historical information includes lists of officers and copies of material concerning the organization of the BRS, including minutes of the 1958 session.

Proceedings of each annual meeting of the BRS from 1962 to 1974 are housed in Series 3. These files contain abstracts of papers presented to the Society with related correspondence, programs, and agenda. There are no proceedings from the international meetings in 1965, 1969, and 1975. Although the Society met in 1976, the purpose of the meeting was to determine the fate of the BRS; no scientific business was presented.

Most of the material relating to payment of BRS membership dues was discarded during processing. Membership lists from 1963 to 1976, however, have been retained in Series 4. Also in Series 4 are two editions of an informal newsletter which was produced by the Society president, Don M. Cunningham, in 1971.

Although the BRS was dissolved in 1976, some funds remained. These were entrusted to Edward W. Bixby, Jr., the last secretary treasurer, who eventually used the funds to establish an Isaac Starr Memorial Fund in 1980. Correspondence concerning the fund and some financial records, 1980-1981, are preserved in Series 5. This small fund may still be active.


  • 1956 - 1981


Biographical / Historical

The Ballistocardiographic Research Society was organized in May 1956 by Isaac Starr and DeWitt Hendee Smith. Its purpose was to provide a forum for discussion of ballistocardiography related papers and issues; resolve instrumentation problems; develop a theory on the genesis of the ballistocardiograph; and foster its clinical use. The society, first known as the "Ballistocardiographic Club", held its first meeting in the fall of 1956; by laws were adopted and officers elected. Starr became the first president and Smith the first secretary treasurer. In May 1957, at the club's second meeting, the formal name was changed to the "Ballistocardiographic Research Society".

The BRS met biannually for the first few years, but by 1963, it held one meeting each spring in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Every American meeting of the Society was held in Atlantic City until 1976.

A European organization, the Society for Ballistocardiographic Research, was started in 1958, and the American and European groups were in close contact. The two societies sponsored the first World Congress on Ballistocardiography and Cardiovascular Dynamics in Amsterdam in 1965. A second joint world congress was organized in 1969 in Portugal, and a third in Amsterdam in 1975.

In 1964, the BRS began to print abstracts of papers delivered at its annual meeting. Arrangements were made with S. Karger AG, a Swiss medical and scientific publishing firm, to print the research materials and proceedings of each annual meeting, beginning with the 11th meeting in 1966.

By 1974, the Society began to consider combining several small societies, concerned with either invasive and noninvasive cardiovascular techniques, into a larger organization. These other small bodies were: the American Physiological Society, the Micro circulatory Society, the Laennec Society, the Bio medical Engineering Society, and the Biomaterials Society. These groups formed the Cardiovascular System Dynamics Society in 1976. Because of its close association with the CSDS and its declining membership, the Ballistocardiographic Research Society was dissolved. It held its final business session in Philadelphia in October 1976, although funds from the Society were used to create an Isaac Starr Memorial Fund in 1980.


2 boxes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The archival records of the Ballistocardiographic Research Society were donated to the Historical Collections of the College of Physicians by Edward W. Bixby, Jr. in 1987. These records had been in his custody since the dissolution of the Society in 1976.

The collection was processed in 1989.
Records of the Secretary Treasurer of the Ballistocardiograph Research Society
Language of description
Script of description
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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