Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - Pulaski County medical organizations minutes, MS.000155

As the Civil War drew to a close, physicians in Arkansas decided it was time to organize professionally, and in January, 1866, they formed the first such group, the Little Rock and Pulaski County Medical Society. It had thirteen inaugural members, and for the first six years of its operation was led by six different presidents. One of the early presidents was Philo O. Hooper, who went on to establish Little Rock's College of Physicians and Surgeons in July, 1873, after a dispute arose among members of the county society.

On June 7, 1873, thirteen disgruntled members of the Little Rock and Pulaski County Medical Society officially withdrew from the organization in protest over its admittance of Almon Brooks, whom they felt fell short of the society's professional standards and ethics. They formed the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which continued for six years, resulting in two almost identical, yet competing medical associations in the Pulaski County region.

In 1879, leaders of the two organizations were approached by the president of St. John's College, Leo Baier, who wanted his institution to include a medical department. Hooper, who still headed the College of Physicians and Surgeons, consented to the proposition, as did the competing organization's leaders, James A. Dibrell, Jr., and James H. Southall. The first joint meeting to discuss the venture was held on April 4, 1879.

Unfortunately, St. John's College was already faltering, and more challenges arose in selecting a faculty, so this initial department never materialized. But the union between the previously competitive associations remained firm as they found a new home for their school: the Arkansas Industrial University, now known as the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Washington County. Incorporated in September 1879, this new medical department was an independent part of the university: Hooper selected the faculty, staff, and curriculum, and the university did not financially support the department. Instead, eight physicians invested $5,000 each, which was enough to buy the Sperindio Hotel at 113 West Second Street in Little Rock. These eight doctors became the University of Arkansas Medical Department's chairmen, and that autumn they accepted their inaugural twenty-two students.

In 1911, fueled by a need to improve medical education standards in Arkansas, the university's medical department merged with a competing Little Rock medical school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which had been founded in 1906. (This college should not be confused with the original College of Physicians and Surgeons, which was simply an association of physicians.) With the merger came a fundamental change in the department's organization. The university began having a more direct role in educating budding physicians, while the department was able to begin receiving state appropriations.
This collection consists of ledgers recording meetings called to order between 1872 and 1924 by the Little Rock and Pulaski County Medical Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the faculty of the University of Arkansas Medical Department.

  • 1873 July 5-1884 March 29: College of Physicians and Surgeons, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • 1872 July 3-1885 November 3: Pulaski County Medical Society
  • 1909 December 13-1924 December 1: Pulaski County Medical Society
  • 1900 July 17-1911 May 16: University of Arkansas Medical Department faculty

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