Monday, January 26, 2009

Benefits of membership, revoked

Among the collections here in the archives is one containing records of the Portland Academy of Medicine (Accession 2004-019), a medical society formed in 1906 by a handful of local physicians, primarily those of the "old guard" associated with the University of Oregon Medical School. The history of the group's formation and early years is full of intrigue (as one might expect of Portland medical politics), and the documents contained in the collection vividly illustrate the personalities of the day.

The Academy had rules, and the officers were pretty serious about enforcing them. Two letters from the 1930s show just how serious:

TLS dated Nov. 9, 1933, from C. Ulysses Moore to A.G. Bettman, secretary:
Dear Dr. Bettman: Last year when I asked for an extension of time on my Academy dues I expected the Depression to be over by now. Balancing my budget demands that I now resign from the Academy. "If and When" I am able to pay my present delinquency I shall consider re-instatement.
Sadly for Dr. Moore, he didn't quite understand the by-laws on dues payment. Penciled on the bottom of the page is the notation: "Not accepted by council because in arrears with dues. H.J.S." Once you accepted admission into the Academy, you were not allowed to resign until your dues were fully paid.

TLS dated Oct. 25, 1934, from A.G. Bettman to his successor as secretary, Harry J. Sears:
I would suggest that those who have lost their membership be written to that effect and asked to return their membership certificates, and in event that this is not done that a messenger be sent for them.
Perhaps physicians were flaunting their Academy membership certificates on office walls, or flashing their cards at the Union Club. In either case, the Academy wasn't going to stand for it.

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