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Records of the Sydenham Medical Coterie

Identifier: MSS 3/005

Scope and Contents

The records of the Sydenham Medical Coterie span the duration of its existence, from 1870 to 1980, and give a reasonably complete account of its proceedings and activities.

The organizational records of the Coterie (Series 1) contain the original manuscript constitution, adopted in 1870 with emendations to 1873. Bound with the constitution is the socalled "black list" (ca.1873-1896), a record of patients who were delinquent in payment of bills. The members of the Coterie referred to the black list and avoided patients who were listed on it.

A complete run of minutes of the proceedings of each meeting of the Coterie (Series 2) has been preserved from the group's formation in 1870 to 1944. No minutes of meetings have been preserved after 1944. The minutes describe the transaction of all Coterie business, including election of officers, treasurer's reports, and memorials of deceased members. Detailed abstracts of the scientific presentations and summaries of ensuing discussions are also preserved in the minutes from 1870 to 1895 and from 1922 through 1944. The minutes become sparse in 1916-1917 and minutes of the following meetings are missing: January through May, 1929; January and May, 1930; October, 1936; February, 1937; October, 1939; and October, 1943.

Series 3, the files of the Coterie secretaries, 1896-1980, includes general correspondence, arrangements, and scheduling for meetings of the Coterie; membership correspondence; memorials, newsclippings, and correspondence concerning deceased members; and some poetry delivered on notable Coterie occasions. The bulk of these files, from the 1930s to 1944, derives from the tenures of Rae Sheppard Dorsett, Joseph C. Doane, Louis D. Englerth, Walter Lillie, and, from the 1950s through the 1970s, from David L. Drabkin. This series also contains the only information available about the membership and activities of the Coterie from 1951 to its dissolution in 1980. There is almost no information available about the Coterie from 1944 to 1951.

Medical and scientific papers which were read before the Sydenham Medical Coterie, 1896-1946, are preserved in Series 4. The bulk of the papers is concentrated in the 1920s and 1930s. These papers, generally typescripts with occasional abstracts, are concerned with a variety of topics. Most deal with purely medical subjects, such as viral hepatitis, polio, and cancer, and often present specific cases as examples. Other topics include experiences in World War I, the history of the Coterie, and eugenics. Most of the papers which have been preserved were presented by Charles A.E. Codman, Rae Sheppard Dorsett, John M. Fisher, and James H. McKee; there is also an extensive collection of papers concerning ophthalmological subjects presented by McCluney Radcliffe. Extensive abstracts of other papers are often preserved in the minutes of the Coterie. Although scientific sessions continue through the 1970s, there are no papers or abstracts available after 1946.


  • 1870 - 1980


Biographical / Historical

The Sydenham Medical Coterie was organized on February 1, 1870, at 1838 Green Street in Philadelphia, the home of Reuel Stewart, who became the Coterie's first president. According to Charles A.E. Codman, the Coterie was "conceived and born" in a drugstore at 19th and Fairmount Avenue. The group, originally limited to twelve members, was composed of physicians practicing in the city's 15th Ward; this accounts for its original name, "The Fifteenth Ward Medical Coterie". It met on a monthly basis and held an annual meeting with election of officers each February. Meetings were held in the homes of the members and circulated throughout the year. In 1871, the membership was no longer limited to physicians in the 15th Ward, and in the following year, the name was changed to "the Sydenham Medical Coterie".

The coterie was intended to provide a forum for discussion of topics of medical interest and an interchange of professional subjects. Members gave papers to the Coterie on medical subjects or discussed current cases. The Coterie also established a uniform fee "as nearly as possible in conformity with the College [of Physicians'] Fee Bill" which had been adopted in 1863, maintained a "black list" of information on debtors, and established courteous procedures for visiting patients of other members.

The motto of the Coterie was "In scientia docti, in arte experti, ad aegrotos servondos" (learned in knowledge and experienced in science to help the sick.)

In the 20th century, the Coterie began to meet in public places, often invited speakers who were not members, and tried to draw its membership from the five medical schools of Philadelphia. The papers which were delivered ceased to be purely medical in nature, but were often scientific or historical nature.

Although the membership of the Coterie was always small, the group continued to meet until 1980 when H. Walter Forster, Jr., dissolved the Coterie due to waning interest.


3 boxes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The archival records of the Sydenham Medical Coterie were retrieved from the 7th floor of the Cage in 1989. Information derived from the collection indicates that the minutes from 1870 to 1902 and the constitution were deposited with the College of Physicians "with the intention of their being presented at a later date" on 5 October, 1906. No reference to this deposit appears in the records of the College, the Council, or the Library Committee, and the Coterie is never listed as an organization with a formal deposit agreement with the College. Presumably, the minutes from 1902 to 1944, the early secretary's files, and the collection of typescript scientific papers were transferred to the College by the Coterie in the 1940s. The later secretary's files were probably transferred in 1980 by David L. Drabkin or H. Walter Forster, Jr.

Preliminary cataloguing of the records of the Sydenham Medical Coterie was done in the early 1980s. The collection was processed and catalogued in 1989. A small number of reprints by members of the Coterie were removed during processing; these reprints will eventually be integrated with the College Library collection.

Membership List


Stewart, Reuel 1870-1874 Reese, John J. 1870-1879 Roberts, Jacob 1870-1871 (CPP) Filbert, Ludwig S. 1870-1871? Baldwin, Louis K. 1870-1888 (CPP) Seyfert, Theodore H. 1870-1879 (CPP) Hine, Elmore C. 1870-1879 Evans, Horace Y. 1870-1894 (CPP) Honorary 1894-1908 Goodell, William 1870-1871 (CPP) Stone, James F. 1870-1890 Barton, J.M. 1870-1872 Howell, Samuel B. 1870 (CPP) McFerran, J.A. 1870-1882 Landis, Joseph A. 1871-1874 Clark, Leonard S. 1872-1874 (CPP) Holt, Jacob F. 1874-1908 Hinkle, Albert G.B. 1874 (CPP) Welch, William M. 1874-1912 (CPP) Webb, W.H. 1874-1880 (CPP) Mills, Charles K. 1876-1890 (CPP) Janney, William S. 1878-1886 (CPP) Stone, Edward R. 1880-1881 Seltzer, Charles M. 1880-1920? Walk, James Wilson 1881-1917 Rudderow, Benjamin J. 1881-1883 Leidy, Philip 1882-1885 (CPP) Smith, Henry A. 1882-1900 Davis, G.G. 1883-1918?

Baum, Charles 1886-1890 (CPP) Beates, Henry, Jr. 1887-1891 (CPP) Deaver, John B. 1889-1891 (CPP) Faught, G. Granville 1890-1894 Radcliffe, McCluney 1890-1931 Life 1935-1936 Daland, Judson 1890-1893 (CPP) Warder, Charles B. 1891-1910 Dercum, Francis X. 1891-1895 (CPP) Brinton, Lewis 1893-1894 (CPP) Noble, Charles P. 1894-1902 (CPP) Fisher, John M. 1894-1935 Life 1935-1937 Ross, George G. 1895-1915 (CPP) Nassau, Charles F. 1896-1940 Ely, Thomas C. 1901-1905 (CPP) McKee, James H. 1902-1936 (CPP) Life, 1936- Anders, Howard S. 1905-1914 West, John W. 1909-1933 Robinson, William D. 1910-1931 Maier, F.Hurst 1912-1939 McLean, John D. 1914- (CPP) Krusen, Wilmer 1916-1937 (CPP) Marshall, George M. 1918-1935 (CPP) White, Courtland Y. 1918-1937 (CPP) Codman, Charles A.E. 1922-1941 (CPP) Dorsett, Rae S. 1931-1936 Doane, Joseph C. 1932- (CPP) Rowntree, Leonard G. 1933- Chamberlain, W.Edward 1935- (CPP) Englerth, Louis D. 1936-1939 (CPP) Lillie, W.I. 1937- (CPP) Strecker, Edward A. 1938- (CPP) Stokes, Joseph, Jr. 1938- (CPP) Bronk, Detlev 1939- Brown, Charles L. 1939- (CPP) Ferguson, Lewis K. 1940- (CPP) Scheffey, Lewis C. 1941- (CPP) Fetter, Theodore R. 1944- (CPP) Drabkin, David L. c1951- Perkins, William c1951- (CPP) Bockus, Henry L. c1951- (CPP) Ehrich, William c1951- (CPP) Burnett, Emory c1956-1979 (CPP) Forster, H. Walter Jr. c1958 (CPP) Moore, John R. c1965 (CPP) Lewis, George, Jr. c1965 (CPP) Kern, Richard A. c1965 (CPP) Durant, Thomas c1965 (CPP) Koelle, George B. c1965 Rakoff, Abraham E. 1965- (CPP) Madow, Leo c1966- (CPP) Hildreth, Eugene A. c1966- (CPP) Field, Richard A. 1968- Kaufmann, Berwind N. c1968- Bongiovanni, Alfred M. c1968- (CPP) Forster, Robert E. c1968- (CPP) Marsh, Julian B. c1968- (CPP) Royster, Henry P. c1968- Sherry, Sol c1968- (CPP) Kaye, Donald c1979- (CPP) Kissick, Walter c1979- Kowlessar, O. Dowd c1979- Schaedler, Russell c1979- (CPP) Shapiro, Irving c1979- Wolferth, Charles c1979- (CPP) Sutnick, Alton J. c1979- (CPP) Mancall, Elliott L. c1979- (CPP)



Stewart, Reuel, 1870-1874 Reese, John J. 1874-1877 Hine, Elmore C. 1877-1878 Baldwin, Louis K. 1878-1879 McFerran, Joseph A. 1879-1881 Stone, James F. 1881-1883 Welch, William M. 1883-1885 Mills, Charles K. 1885-1886 Walk, James W. 1886-1887 Smith, Henry A. 1887-1888 Seltzer, Charles M. 1888-1889 Baum, Charles 1889-1890 Davis, G.G. 1890-1891 Faught, G.Granville 1891-1892 Radcliffe, McCluney 1892-1894 Warder, Charles B. 1894-1895 Dercum, Francis X. 1895-1896 Holt, Jacob F. 1896-1899 Fisher, John M. 1899-1900 Nassau, Charles F. 1900-1901 Welch, William M. 1901-1902 Ross, George G. 1902-1905 Ely, Thomas C. 1905 Radcliffe, McCluney 1905-1907 Davis, G.G. 1907-1908 Nassau, Charles F. 1908-1909 McKee, James H. 1909-1912 West, John W. 1912-1914 Robinson, William 1914-1918? Maier, F.Hurst 1918-1920 Krusen, Wilmer 1920-1923? White, Courtland Y. 1923-1932 Codman, Charles A.E.1932-1938 Doane, Joseph C. 1938-

Vice President

Evans, Horace Y. 1874-1877 Baldwin, Louis K. 1877-1878 Stone, James F. 1878-1879 Seyfert, Theodore 1879-1880 Stone, James F. 1880-1881 Welch, William M. 1881-1883 Mills, Charles K. 1883-1885 Walk, James W. 1885-1886 Smith, Henry A. 1886-1887 Seltzer, Charles M. 1887-1888 Baum, Charles 1888-1889 Beates, Henry, Jr. 1889-1890 Deaver, John B. 1890-1891 Radcliffe, McCluney 1891-1892 Daland, Judson 1892-1893 Warder, Charles B. 1893-1894 Dercum, Francis X. 1894-1895 Fisher, John M. 1895-1898 Noble, Charles P. 1898-1900 Welch, William M. 1900-1901 Walk, James W. 1901-1902 Ely, Thomas C. 1902-1905 Radcliffe, McCluney 1905 Davis, G.G. 1906-1907 Nassau, Charles F. 1907-1908 McKee, James H. 1908-1909 Fisher, John M. 1909-1912 Walk, James W. 1912-1913 Fisher, John M. 1913-1914 Maier, F.Hurst 1914-1918? Krusen, Wilmer 1918-1920?

Secretary Treasurer

Hine, Elmore C. 1870-1877 Evans, Horace Y. 1877-1878 Holt, Jacob F. 1878-1892 Davis, G.G. 1892-1893 Faught, G.Granville 1893-1894 Walk, James W. 1894-1896 Warder, Charles B. 1896-1899 Nassau, Charles F. 1899-1900 Ross, George G. 1900-1902 Radcliffe, McCluney 1902-1905 McKee, James H. 1905-1906 Anders, Howard S. 1906-1912 Radcliffe, McCluney 1912-1913 Maier, F.Hurst 1913-1914 Ross, George G. 1914-1918? Marshall, George M. 1918-1920 White, Courtland Y. 1920-1923? Codman, Charles A.E.1923-1932 Dorsett, Rae S. 1932-1936 Doane, Joseph S. 1936-1938 Englerth, Louis D. 1938-1939 Lillie, Walter I. 1939-194? Fetter, Theodore R. 194? 1965? Drabkin, David L. 1965-
Records of the Sydenham Medical Coterie
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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