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Essex County Medical Society (N.J.) Records (1816 - 2008)
RepositoryRutgers University, George F. Smith Health Sciences Library, Special Collections Dept. (formerly UMDNJ)
Collection IDMC/42
Sizeca. 3 linear feet
Collection Description
The Essex County Medical Society (ECMS) is a district affiliate of the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ), the oldest continuously meeting state medical society in the United States. On June 27, 1766, fourteen New Jersey doctors founded the MSNJ. However, it was not until 1816 that the Society was formally incorporated. Physicians then established district societies in five counties: Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Somerset, and Essex. The MSNJ appointed five physicians, Joseph Quimby, Samuel Manning, John D. Williams, David S. Craig, and Philemon Elmer, to form the District Medical Society for the County of Essex, which became the Essex County Medical Society (ECMS) in April 1904. All regularly licensed medical practitioners of Essex County were issued a public notice to meet on June 4, 1816 at Moses Roff's Inn on Broad Street, Newark's chief hostelry. The group elected John D. Williams as its first President and Joseph Quimby as Secretary. There were only eleven members when the Society began.

At the time, Essex County included what are now Passaic and Union Counties, with a combined population of about 30 thousand. The founders of the Essex County Medical Society were mostly immigrants (or their descendants) from Great Britain. Only a few had formal medical training.

Following the Civil War, New Jersey became a center for industrial production in the United States, and a magnet for immigrants. A large Civil War Army Hospital, located on North Broadway in Newark, offered Essex County physicians opportunities to expand their experience and test their skills by attending recovering soldiers, largely without compensation. By the end of the century several hospitals, including specialist facilities, had been founded to serve the city.

In 1876, the ECMS was the second county society in New Jersey to induct a woman member, Dr. Eleanor Haines; in the twentieth century the list of female physicians grew steadily. In 1930 the Women's Auxiliary of the ECMS was founded, enrolling wives and female relations of male ECMS physicians.

By the 1930s, the ECMS held one Annual Meeting, a series of Regular Meetings called by the Council, Special Meetings called by the President, and a Council Meeting prior to each Society meeting. The minutes and actions of Regular and Special Council Meetings are printed in the ECMS Bulletin, beginning in 1931. As licensing procedures, formerly controlled by the counties, and the structure of medical practice in general changed over the years the role and functions of the county societies narrowed.
Collection Contents
The records of the Essex County Medical Society date from its establishment in 1816 to 2008, but the bulk of the collection dates from 1816 to 1970.

Document types include: minutes of annual, semi-annual, and special meetings; correspondence; memos; publications; conference proceedings and reports; election ballots; and financial records. Early minutes of the Society reflect the participation of many prominent citizens of Newark (not all of them doctors); meetings were held in Newark, by the 1920s and 30s at the Academy of Medicine of Northern New Jersey, 31 Lincoln Park. Newark-related material is found in all parts of the collection.

Box 1: contains a Treasurer's Ledger (1816-1926) and a Dues Ledger (1935-1944), both listing amounts received from individual doctors, without addresses; Minute Books of the District Medical Society of the County of Essex/Essex County Medical Society (June 1816-April 1929), including Treasurer's reports, hospital reports, discussion of public health issues, reports on the library, a list of members (mostly from Newark) 1856-1858, later lists of members and attendees (with addresses), detailed obituary tributes, communications from the State Society, clippings advertising early meetings, etc.

Box 2: contains Minute Books (October 1929-October 1954); and bound volumes of Council Actions (1954-1974). Starting in 1931 the ECMS Bulletin is bound with the Minutes for each year.

Box 3: contains correspondence (1880-1904, 1952), much of it addressed to Dr. Archibald Mercer, Secretary of the Society, from Newark doctors and others regarding licensing requirements and Society business; a Members register (April 1901); ballots (1960-1973); Essex County Medical Society publications, including constitutions and by-laws, press releases (1968), and the "ECMS Bulletin (1938-1997, with gaps); and 2 folders of Medical Society of New Jersey publications and records (1940-1973). Also included (in Folder 9) are two copies of "Medical Men of the Essex District, 1666-1866," by J. Henry Clark, MD (1867). Three unnumbered folders contain recent material: a manuscript and a printed copy of Dr. Arthur Ellenberger's article "ECMS Presidents at MSNJ" (ECMS Bulletin, Jan-Feb 2001), miscellaneous Society flyers and correspondence (1970s-2008), manuscripts of several articles by Dr. George J. Hill on ECMS history; and a copy of the ECMS Bulletin (Sep-Oct 2006) containing a list of presidents of the Society, 1816-2006.
FormatTextual materials
SubjectMedicine / Public Health
Time Periods19th Century; 20th Century
Access policyOpen for research
Finding AidYes
Finging Aid URL