Jun 21, 2012

CAMA Spotlight: American College of Surgeons Archives

Our second CAMA Spotlight focuses on one of our member institutions, the Archives of the American College of Surgeons. 

Thanks to archivists Susan Rishworth, MA, MLS, CA, and Dolores Barber, MSLIS, CA, of the American College of Surgeons Archives for participating in this month's CAMA Spotlight.

ACS Seal at its Headquarters in Chicago. Courtesy ACS Archives.
What is the American College of Surgeons?

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) was established in Chicago in 1913 at the initiative of Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS. It was an outgrowth of the highly successful Clinical Congress of Surgeons of North America. The Clinical Congress was first held in 1910 to provide continuing education by means of live demonstrations of surgical operations. From the time of its origin, the College has been involved in surgical education and research, patient welfare, hospital standardization, ethics of practice, and collaboration with other medical associations.

What is the size of your collection?

The ACS Archives holds approximately 300 linear feet of fully processed records.

Tell us about your users.

We are generally open four days a week and serve primarily our staff and members. But we also have nonmember researchers, typically historians and graduate students. We have also had young people come to do research on school projects.

What kind of reference services do you provide?

We reply to phone/email inquiries, assist researchers in the reading room, and give tours of the College headquarters.

Describe some of your online resources and digital collections.

Our online resources include the Highlight of the Month (history notes) and historical lists of Clinical Congresses, Presidents, Executive Directors, Recipients of the Distinguished Service Award, and Honorary Fellows. 

Digitized resources available online include the catalog of the Orr Collection, texts of past presidential addresses, photographs of the Board of Regents, the Clinical Congress News, one volume of the 48 volume F.H. Martin Memoirs (scrapbooks), and one volume of the 26 volume E.K. Grimm History Notebooks.

What are some of your most-used collections?

The records of the Committee on Medical Motion pictures have been used often over the years. Also used often are the records on hospital standardization; the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (now the Joint Commission) originated in the College’s early hospital standardization initiative. And we frequently use the Grimm Notebooks for authoritative reference on all subjects related to College history.

[Learn more about 3-D movies at the Clinical Congress.]

Who are some of the most well-known figures connected to the American College of Surgeons and your collection?

Charles H. Mayo received his medical degree from Northwestern University (then Chicago Medical College). He was one of the founders of the ACS, its president from 1924 to 1925, and a member of the Board of Regents. George Crile, founder of the Cleveland Clinic, and Alton Ochsner, founder of the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, were also founders and presidents of the ACS along with Franklin Martin and many others, giants of surgery in their day.

--Thanks, Dolores and Susan!  If you have questions for Susan and Dolores or CAMA, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section. We'd love any feedback on this new feature of the CAMA blog.

More on the CAMA Spotlight Project:

With this new CAMA Spotlight feature, you can get to know the people and institutions who offer resources in Chicago concerning the history of medicine, medical education, and related topics. 

Each institution represented in CAMA has a story of its own to tell. We hope this new feature is of interest to fellow archivists, students, researchers, and anyone curious about what in the world archivists do.

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