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Society for the History of Medicine and Health Professions

The Society for the History of Medicine and the Health Professions was established as a support group for the Historical Research Center (HRC) of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Library in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It supports research into the history of the health sciences in Arkansas.

The society was founded in September 1981 by an executive committee composed of Dr. Robert Watson (the first neurosurgeon in Arkansas and a member of the UAMS College of Medicine faculty) as chair, Marie Smith (wife of Dr. John McCollough Smith), Dr. Horace Marvin (UAMS College of Medicine associate dean for academic affairs), Paul Harris (executive director of the Pulaski County Medical Society), and Edwina Walls (head of the HRC). This group was initially named the History of Medicine Associates. Officers were elected in November 1982 and included Dr. Robert Watson (president), Kelsy Caplinger (vice president), Dr. Richard Clark (secretary), and Edwina Walls (ex-officio treasurer). Dr. Thomas Bruce, who was dean of the UAMS College of Medicine, and the Medical Education Foundation of Arkansas provided early support and partial funding for the group’s activities. The group’s name was changed to the Society for the History of Medicine and the Health Professions in 2010 to be more inclusive.

The mission of the society is: “To enhance the resources of the UAMS Library’s Historical Research Center collection while supporting the general study of the history of medicine and the health professions.” The HRC acquires, preserves, and provides access to resources related to the history of UAMS and to the history of the health sciences in Arkansas and beyond.

Activities of the society include funding an annual award of up to $1,500 to support the development of research papers related to the history of the health sciences in Arkansas. Two bound volumes of the papers have been published and are available in libraries throughout the state.

The society also sponsors an annual dinner in addition to facilitating donations of historical materials to the HRC. Materials of particular interest include papers and other materials related to the history of UAMS, personal papers of Arkansas health professionals, photographs, artifacts, records of healthcare organizations, personal diaries and letters, historical journals, and important medical books. The society also helps to fund the purchase of books and other history-related materials, as well as restore and preserve items already in the collections.

The society has supported the creation of exhibits on historical topics (permanent exhibit locations include the UAMS Library and several other UAMS locations) and has undertaken special projects, such as the installation of historic site markers and plaques.

Other activities include publishing a newsletter, hosting an annual membership meeting, and maintaining a website. The society is governed by an elected board of volunteers and a set of bylaws established by the members. Society membership is open to all who are interested in the history of the health sciences, and annual dues are nominal.

For additional information:
Society for the History of Medicine and the Health Professions. http://shmhp.uams.edu (accessed October 25, 2016).

Historical Research Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Library. http://library.uams.edu/library-services/historical-research-center/ (accessed October 25, 2016).

History of Medicine Associates Records. Historical Research Center, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Library, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mary L. Ryan
Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated 11/1/2016

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