Dr. Walter Hughson is generally credited as being the one who conceived the idea of a new surgical travel club, probably as early as the fall of 1922. According to Dr. Wilder Penfield, Hughson first brought the possibility up as they were returning from a Yale-Princeton football game. In April 1923, five men met in New York City and, following a breakfast at Child’s Restaurant, gathered on a bench in Central Park to continue their discussions on the foundation and naming of this new club. Present at this initial session were Drs. Walter Hughson and Lawrence R. Wharton of Baltimore and Drs. Wilder Penfield, Arthur Purdy Stout, and Harry A. Murray, Jr., of New York City.
This group selected the name Halsted Club, as they felt that William Stewart Halsted, who had died on September 7, 1922, less than a year before, had given the surgical profession a new philosophy and a basic scientific approach to surgery. (Several years later the name was changed to Halsted Society.) By the time of the first formal meeting in Baltimore on June 9 and 10, 1924, the Club consisted of eleven members: Percival Bailey, H. Cuthbert Bazett, Frank B. Berry, Loyal E. Davis, Walter Hughson, Robert W. Johnson, Jr., Monroe A. McIver, Harry A. Murray, Jr., Wilder Penfield, Arthur Purdy Stout, and Lawrence R. Wharton.
At this first meeting the pattern of future meetings was adopted with a day of presentations by the “host institution” and at least a day of presentations by the members. The local participants included Drs. Samuel J. Crowe, Walter E. Dandy, John Staige Davis, Henry A. Peterson, Harvey B. Stone, and Karl M. Wilson. A highlight of the first meeting was the dinner held at the Baltimore Club, where Dr. William H. Welch spoke informally about Dr. Halsted for some two hours.
After these auspicious beginnings the group gradually enlarged, but never to the point of compromising the intimate nature of the organization. As is the case with many such societies, there have been lean years and troubled times. Such was the case in 1939, when some members gave serious consideration to stopping the election of new members and permitting the Society to die out with its current membership. However, through the efforts of such men as I.S. Ravdin and Owen H. Wangensteen, the Society was kept alive. In the years following, particularly after World War II, new members were elected with varying talents from widely scattered locations. Today the Halsted Society is a vigorous organization of professional men and women who support the purposes listed in Article II of the constitution: to perpetuate the memory of Doctor William Stewart Halsted; to further the scientific principles and ideals for which he stood; to encourage exchange of ideas, free and informal discussion, and a spirit of sociability and good fellowship among its members.
Olch, Peter D. "The Halstead Society, 1924-1974." Johns Hopkins Medical Journal 135 (1974), 33-41. Reprinted with permission of The Johns Hopkins University Press.
1965 Halsted Society Meeting Plates (qty = 14) received from Mrs. Audrey Warden, 616 Schubert Place, Morgantown, WV 26505
Plates were given to her husband, Dr. Herbert Warden by widow of Dr. Bernard Zimmerman (past president 1972-73) after a society meeting was held in Morgantown WV.
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