Franklin Martin Papers at the American College of Surgeons

18 Oct 2012 12:36 PM | Anonymous

Just in time for the kick-off of the celebration of the centennial of the American College of Surgeons, the description of the papers of ACS founder Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS and his wife Isabelle, is now available online at The Martins’ memoirs, essentially scrapbooks with photos and memorabilia from 1901 to 1934 have been described and available to researchers for several years, with a sampling of the contents available online. Now a description of the entire collection is available online as a 54-page PDF describing 95 boxes of materials.


Doctors Narhwold and Kernahan consulted many of these records in their research for the centennial history of the College, while the records were still being processed. They were privy to records about the first two decades of the history of the College, to which no other historian of the College over the century has had access. However, the sheer volume of the collection ensures that it will be essential reading for all those intending to write biographies of Franklin Martin, and will yield many more insights about the founding and early years of the history of the College.


With over ten years of work by the ACS Archives staff, from the time the papers were discovered in 2001 in old rusty metal filing cabinets stored at the College’s historic Murphy Memorial Auditorium, to the completion of their full description in standard archival format, the description of the papers is now accessible by any researcher and free-text searchable. Over the course of the decade, the brittle memoirs were given de-acidification treatment and rehoused in polypropylene preservation-friendly sleeves for safe and easy handling by researchers. Archivists Susan Rishworth and Dolores Barber then completed a thorough inventory of the records allowing for item level description of all Martin’s correspondence. An arrangement scheme became more clear as more and more records were uncovered and the inventory grew.


Among the items in the inventory are records of Martin’s early career as a gynecologist, including casebooks from 1891 to 1917; original records from the now defunct Chicago medical schools and hospitals which he was instrumental in founding dating from the 1890s; the full collection of memoirs which includes documentation of Martin’s service as Medical Director of President Woodrow Wilson’s civilian arm of the Council of National Defense during World War I and on which he served with other luminaries, such as Samuel Gompers, Bernard Baruch, Julius Rosenwald, Howard Coffin and Hollis Godfrey; item level description of correspondence from 1885 to 1935; background on his publications; photos, both formal and snapshots; hundreds of sympathy letters after he died; and much more.


Please celebrate the ACS Centennial by delving into a description of the papers of its founder, Franklin H. Martin. For more information on accessing the papers themselves, contact Susan Rishworth, Archivist, American College of Surgeons,

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