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Medical Society of the District of Columbia Records

 Collection
Identifier: MS C 625

Abstract

Society and Executive Board meeting minutes, committee records, subject files, correspondence, mailings, event fliers, publications, newsletters, financial ledgers, legal briefs, and published legal proceedings document the formal operations of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. The Medical Society of the District of Columbia (MSDC) is a professional advocacy organization for physicians practicing in and around the District of Columbia.

Dates

  • 1833-1984

Extent

54.34 Linear Feet (48 boxes)

Creator

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Language of Materials

Collection materials primarily in English

Access Restrictions

Collection is restricted. Portions of the collection are restricted according to HMD's Access to Health Information of Individuals policy. Contact the Reference Staff for information regarding access. For access to the policy and application form, please visit https://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/manuscripts/phi.pdf.

Copyright and Re-use Information

Donor's copyrights were transferred to the public domain.

Privacy Information

Archives and manuscript collections may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in any collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the National Library of Medicine assumes no responsibility.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1817, a group of physicians established the Medical Society of the District of Columbia (MSDC), a professional organization created to disseminate medical and scientific information to its members as well as to protect physicians and the public from "medical charlatans" and "quacks." An Act of Congress officially chartered the MSDC in 1819. The society was re-chartered in 1838 and again in 1924. Over the course of the MSDC's existence, membership of the society was comprised of licensed physicians, medical residents, and medical students in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

In addition to providing scientific programs and essay discussions for its members, the MSDC also licensed physicians who sought to practice in the District of Columbia through its Board of Examiners. After its amalgamation with the Medical Association of the District of Columbia in 1911, the MSDC began creating and regulating fee schedules for medical services. By the mid-twentieth century, the MSDC also organized annual scientific assemblies, coordinated other educational events for its members, and provided services such as the Medical Bureau telephone service for physicians.

The MSDC also acted to promote public health in the District of Columbia. Throughout the nineteenth century, the MSDC focused on the prevention of the spread of diseases like small pox and cholera around the city through vaccinations and improvements to the city’s water supply. In the twentieth century, the MSDC advocated for better regulation of nursing homes, helped vaccinate against polio, promoted maternal welfare and mental health, helped prevent the spread of venereal disease, and studied cancer and its mortality rate, among many other public health activities.

During World War II, the MSDC provided physician volunteers to examine draftees, assisted the government in procuring physicians for the military, and developed an Emergency Medical Service for defense on the home front. The MSDC was also involved in an early controversy about prepaid group health insurance, notably facing a lawsuit which was eventually appealed to the Supreme Court over the Society’s obstruction of the city's Group Health Insurance, Inc. which the courts determined violated the Sherman Act.

Over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the MSDC increasingly focused on legislative advocacy against onerous regulations on behalf of its members. The Society provided physicians with practice management consultation, updated members on legislative and regulatory issues, and continued to provide opportunities for educational development and networking for its members.

Collection Summary

Society and Executive Board meeting minutes, committee records, subject files, correspondence, mailings, event fliers, publications, newsletters, financial ledgers, legal briefs, and published legal proceedings document the formal operations of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia.

Administrative records comprises Series 1. This series notably contains membership and officer election records, copies of various editions of the Society’s constitution and by-laws, financial records, and press releases.

The Transactions and Minutes series (Series 2) comprises the bulk of the collection. It consists primarily of bound records of the meetings and business of the Society through 1970. The earliest minutes are called Transactions. Some volumes, especially those dating to the twentieth century, contain additional MSDC records including correspondence, committee reports, membership summaries, publications, and mailings. Beginning in 1971, the recorded minutes are solely of Executive Board meetings and can be found in Series 3.

Records of the MSDC’s Executive Board comprises Series 3. In addition to the continuation of the Society’s minutes (Series 2), this series notably contains Executive Board meeting agendas, proceedings of the MSDC’s annual business meetings, and memoranda sent to the Executive Board.

The bulk of the Committees, Boards, and Councils series (Series 4) is comprised of committee minutes, originally kept in binders organized chronologically and then by committee name. Some additional committee documents (reports, correspondence with the Executive Board and the Society’s Executive Secretary, and mailings) can be found in the minute books in Series 2. Memoranda on Committee Activities, summarized reports of various committee activities which were created for the Executive Board, can be found in Series 3. Additional committee records including reports, correspondence, events, and mailings are organized by committee name. The majority of the records detailing the MSDC’s activities during World War II can be found under the Committee on Military Affairs.

Records pertaining to the lawsuit against the MSDC and the American Medical Association (AMA) regarding their violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act by preventing physicians from working for Group Health Association, Inc., the District of Columbia's group health insurer, are found in Series 9. The case was eventually appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (317 U.S. 519) in 1943. In addition to the published court proceedings, the notebooks of William Leahy (the counsel representing the MSDC and the AMA) are found in Series 9.

Records of the Medical Association of the District of Columbia can be found in Series 11. The Association was founded in 1833 and was amalgamated with the MSDC in 1911. Unlike the MSDC, the Association could create and recommend fee schedules for routine medical services, a role which the new amalgamated MSDC undertook after the merger. Notably, much of the files within the Correspondence subseries include disputes between doctors and allegations of malpractice against physicians in the District.

Abstract

Society and Executive Board meeting minutes, committee records, subject files, correspondence, mailings, event fliers, publications, newsletters, financial ledgers, legal briefs, and published legal proceedings document the formal operations of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. The Medical Society of the District of Columbia (MSDC) is a professional advocacy organization for physicians practicing in and around the District of Columbia.

Physical Location

Materials stored onsite. History of Medicine Division. National Library of Medicine

Provenance

Gift, MSDC, 1992 May 11, Accession #722, 823, 2002-060.

General

Processed by
Megan O'Hern
Processing Completed
January 2018
Encoded by
Megan O'Hern
Title
Finding Aid to the Medical Society of the District of Columbia Records, 1833-1984
Status
Unverified Partial Draft
Author
Megan O'Hern
Date
January 2018
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English
Edition statement
1.0

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Archives and Modern Manuscripts Collection Collecting Area

Contact:
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1-888-FINDNLM (1-888-346-3656)