History of the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Surgeons – 1946-1950

In May 1945, at the annual meeting of the Medical Association of Georgia in Atlanta, Bowman C. Crowell, Associate Director of the American College of Surgeons was one of the visitors. At that time, he met with several of the Georgia fellows of the American College of Surgeons and suggested to them that they form a Georgia Chapter. This suggestion was favorably received and on May 9, 1946, during the annual meeting of the Medical Association of Georgia in Macon, 25 fellows met for a breakfast meeting at the Dempsey Hotel. A tentative constitution was presented by Miller T. Harrison. A motion was made for approval by David Henry Poer which was seconded by Harold McDonald and carried unanimously. The constitution adopted at the 1946 meeting listed as its purposes:

  1. to promote the aims and ideals of the American College of Surgeons in every way
  2. to inform all fellows in the State regarding current activities of the American College of Surgeons
  3. to sponsor better training and education of Georgia surgeons
  4. to inspire new members with what the College stands for
  5. to watch for desirable qualified new members
  6. transmit to the central office suggestions of value.

Cornelius F. Holton was elected President and Miller T. Harrison was elected Secretary-Treasurer.

In 1946, many surgeons were returning from service in World War II and with the collegiality engendered by military service, they were anxious to form new bonds with their fellow surgeons. It is therefore not surprising that the Georgia Chapter was a success from its inception.

The second meeting of the Georgia Chapter was held in Augusta on April 23-24, 1947. Dues had been collected and after paying all bills the bank balance was $349.91. Significantly, at this meeting, a pattern of scientific presentations was established as there were two invited speakers, Max Peet of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Harold Miller of Pittsburgh. Dr. Miller was one of the founders of the American College of Surgeons. The policy of inviting nationally recognized surgeons was one of the central themes of the Georgia Chapter from the outset. Also, at this pivotal meeting in 1947, a pattern of meetings moving around the state between Augusta, Atlanta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah was established.

The 1947-1949 American College of Surgeons Directory listed 15,705 fellows. Of this number, 194 were from Georgia. There were 68 in Atlanta, 23 in Savannah, 16 in Augusta, 15 in Macon, 8 in Rome, 9 in Waycross, 6 in Columbus and 6 in Albany. In 1947, the President of the American College of Surgeons was Arthur W. Allen of Boston. The Board of Regents for 1947 reads like a veritable “Who’s Who” in the annals of surgery. This list included Alfred Blalock, Frederick Coller, Evarts Graham, Fraser Gurd, Howard Naffziger, Alton Ochsner, and Dallas Phemister. Serving on the Advisory Council was Rudolph Matas of New Orleans.

1947 was also an outstanding year for medicine in general. The World Medical Association was founded, Chloramphenicol was discovered by John Ehrlich and the toad pregnancy test was introduced. Claude Beck treated ventricular fibrillation by direct application of electric shock, Jean Cid Dos Santos performed the first thromboendarterectomy and Ernest Spiegel performed the first stereotactic brain surgery. All in all it was a very interesting and propitious time for the beginning of the Georgia Chapter.

A business meeting of the Georgia Chapter occurred on April 29, 1948 in Atlanta. At this time, there were 240 Georgia Fellows of the American College of Surgeons. Remarkably, of this number, 56 (28%) were in attendance. Plans were made for the third annual Chapter meeting to occur in a joint session with the Georgia Urological Association at the Idle Hour Country Club in Macon on November 4, 1948. At this meeting, a morning scientific session was moderated by Lovick W. Pierce. Papers presented included “Gastric Ulcer” by Milford Hatcher, “Surgical Aspects of Phlebitis” by Charles H. Richardson, Jr., “Perforating Wounds of the Stomach” by Luther H. Wolff and “Obstructing Lesions of the Esophagus” by Julian Quattlebaum. The luncheon program consisted of a paper on “The Healing of Wounds” by Frank B. Berry, Clinical Professor of Surgery at Columbia University. The afternoon program consisted of a symposium on “Treatment of Fractures” and a round table discussion on “Cancer” A surviving program of this fascinating meeting is preserved in the Chapter archives.

The next council meeting occurred on December 2, 1949 at the Henry Grady Hotel in Atlanta. It was decided at this meeting that Savannah would host the 1950 meeting at the General Oglethorpe Hotel. Henry Cave of New York, President-Elect of the American College of Surgeons was invited to speak, as was Alfred Blalock. An invitation was extended to the Georgia Urological Association to meet jointly with the Georgia Chapter. For the first time, it was decided that there would be four prizes awarded for the best papers submitted by Georgia surgery residents. Also, the winner of the first prize would be invited to read his paper at the annual meeting.

At the 1950 meeting, first prize in the Resident’s Paper Competition went to Patrick G. Shea, Jr. for “Sequellae of Inferior Vena Cava Ligation”. Second prize went to James B. Holloway, Jr., for “Management of Bleeding Peptic Ulcer”. Third prize went to Edgar D. Grady for “Cutaneous Inoculation Tuberculosis” and fourth prize went to John P. Wilson for “Pulmonary Embolism: A Statistical Study”.