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Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives (CHOMA)

Local History Symposium at Society Annual Meeting 1941-1955

As the newly appointed Archivist for the Society of American Bacteriologists in 1934, Barnett Cohen of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine aimed to preserve the history of microbiology in the United States both nationally and at the local level.  In addition to acquiring the corporate records of the Society, Cohen’s long-term project was to oversee the preparation of a history of American bacteriology with regionally focused chapters written by the those who lived it.  Though this aim was cut short by Cohen's untimely death in 1952, some of these chapters were written and published as individual papers elsewhere.  In 1959 Paul F. Clark used those chapters and other materials gathered by Cohen, combined with other sources to publish the landmark book, Pioneer Microbiologists of America

Cohen’s interest in the local historical approach was also reflected in his establishment of a symposium at the Society’s Annual Meeting beginning in 1941 that would examine the history of bacteriology of the city in which the meeting was held.  This symposium continued until a few years following Cohen's death, through 1955 and a brief revival in 2009.  In a number of cases, typed copies of the remarks by various speakers were deposited in the Society’s Archives. The Local History Symposium featured work in the fields of microbiology performed in the cities of Baltimore, New York City, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Cincinatti, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh.

These documents are kept with other records of the individual meetings of which the round tables were a part, so they are included in Section 2-Meetings of the Records of the Society held at CHOMA and organized chronologically.  For the convenience of researchers interested in local bacteriological history, the holdings pertaining to all of these round tables are summarized below.

To jump to the finding aid for Section 2- Meetings, go here:

For additional information, contact the ASM Archivist

1941: Baltimore, Maryland

        • Notes on Bacteriology in the Early Days of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. William G. MacCallum. 7 pp

1944: New York, New York

        • Transcript of Round Table, Recollections of the Early Days of Bacteriology in New York City, unedited. 31 pp. Speakers include Augustus B. Wadsworth, Rowland Godfrey Freeman, Charles E. North, H. D. Pease, Anna W. Williams.

1946: Detroit, Michigan

        • Transcript of Round Table, unedited. 89 pp. Table of Contents:

            p. 4      Bacteriology at the University of Michigan. Malcolm Soule
            p. 17    Bacteriology at Michigan State College. Ward Giltner
            p. 29    DIFCO. H. G. Dunham
            p. 34    Parke, Davis and Company representative. A. S. Schlingman
            p. 40    Bacteriology at Wayne University. Harry L. Clark
            p. 49    Bacteriology in the City of Detroit Department of Health. Joseph A. Kasper
            p. 55    Bacteriology in the Hospitals and Clinical Laboratories in the Detroit Area. William L. Brosius
            p. 59    The History of Water Bacteriology in Detroit. Albert M. Shannon
            p. 69    Bacteriology in the Dairy Industry in the Detroit Area. Russell R. Palmer
            p. 81    Bacteriology in the Michigan Department of Health. George D. Cummings 


1947: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

        • Transcript of Round Table, unedited. 51 pp. Table of Contents:

            p. 1      History of Veterinary Bacteriology in Philadelphia. E. L. Stubbs (separate typescript only, 9 pp)          
            p. 1      History of Bacteriology of Tuberculosis in Philadelphia. Florence Seibert (separate typescript only,                             7 pp) 
            p. 2      History of Freeze Drying of Biological Products in Philadelphia. Earl Flosdorf
            p. 14    Ten Years' Work of the Laboratories for the Study of Airborne Infections. William Wells
            p. 26    The Electron Microscope in Philadelphia Bacteriology. Thomas Anderson
            p. 39    History of Bacteriology in Commercial Laboratories. Christopher Roos


1948: Minneapolis, Minnesota

  • Typescripts:
  • From Doctor Hewitt to 1910. Paul Kabler. 10 pp 
  • Reminiscences. Orianna McDaniel. 11 pp
  • Personal Recollections of Early Bacteriological Work at the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin Before the Turn of the Century.  M. D. Frost. 5 pp
  • Dr. W. P. Larson 1880-1947. H. O. Halvorson. 2 pp
  • Dr. Henrici: His Work. Charles E. Skinner. 3 pp
  • Dr. Green: His Work. Charles A.Evans. 5 pp

1949: Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Typescripts:
  • A History of Bacteriology in the Ohio Department of Health. L. F. Ey. 6 pp
  • Bacteriological Education in Oxford, Ohio. Orton K. Stark. 11 pp
  • History of Bacteriology: The Ohio State University. William A. Starin. 12 pp
  • University of Toledo. Leon. S. Idoine. 2 pp
  • Toledo Hospital Institute of Medical Research. Leon S. Idoine (?). 2 pp
  • History of the Laboratories of the Toledo Department of Health. Rose Wirzikoski. 2 pp

1951: Chicago, Illinois

  • Typescripts:
    • History of Public Health Bacteriology in Chicago Health Department. John L. White. 10 pp 
    • A History of Bacteriology at the University of Chicago. Stewart A. Koser. 26 pp. (Reprint from BIOS XXIII:3, October 1952 also available)
    • Public Health Bacteriology in Illinois (Outside Chicago.) Thomas G. Hull. 6 pp
    • History of Bacteriology at the University of Illinois Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy. Milan Novak. 15 pp
    • History of Bacteriology in Chicago, exclusive of University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Northwestern University, Health Department and Industry. Einar Leifson. 6 pp
    • History of Bacteriology at Northwestern University. Guy P. Youmans. 3pp
    • Early Bacteriology at the University of Illinois, Urbana. G. I. Wallace. 6pp
    • History of Industrial Microbiology in Illinois. C. S. Boruff and J. M. Van Lanen. 23 pp

1952: Boston, Massachusetts     

  • Typescripts:
    •  Opening Remarks by S. C. Prescott. 1 p.
    • Rise and Early Development of Bacteriology in New England. S. C. Prescott. 8 pp. (Marginal notes by Paul F. Clark)
    • A History of Bacteriology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Murray P.Horwood. 14 pp.
    • The Development of Bacteriology in Boston. [?] 4 pp.
    • Summary of History of Bacteriology at Brown. C. A. Stuart. 2 pp. Also, 5 page "Information and Data Sheet" questionnaire
    • Report on Historical Development of Bacteriological Work in Health Department City of Boston. Catharine Atwood. 15 pp; 3 page chronology, 1894-1950; 1 page Information and Date Sheet; illustrations
    • History of Milk Inspection in Boston. Frank E. Mott. 2 pp.
    • History of Bacteriology at the University of Maine. E. R. Hitchner. 9 pp.; 2 page "Information and Data Sheet"
    • [Rhode Island State Board of Health.] E. J. Staff,. 2 pp
    • Massachusetts Department of Public Health: History of the Diagnostic Laboratory. Helen H. Gillette. 20 pp
    • Bacteriology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Louis Dienes. 3 pp
    • Bacteriology at Tufts College Medical School. Ralph Wheeler. 1 p
    • Boston University School of Medicine. David Belding. 4 pp.; "Information and Data Sheet."
    • [Massachusetts Memorial Hospitals.] "Information and Data Sheet."
    • Department of Bacteriology, Harvard Medical School, 1885-1915. John Hanks. 10 pp; "Information and Data Sheet."
    • Historical Information on Development of Bacteriology. [Vermont.] Donald B. Johnstone. 2 pp
    • Bacteriology at the University of Rhode Island. Philip L. Carpenter. 4 pp
    • The History of Bacteriology in Other Colleges of the Northeast Area. G. Young. 3 pp
    • Bacteriology at Simmons College. Catherine Witton. 5 pp
    • History of Bacteriology at the University of New Hampshire. L. W. Slanetz. 2 pp
    • Resume of the History of Bacteriology at Wellesley College. Delaphine Wyckoff. 3 pp; "Data and Information Sheet"
    • A Brief Sketch of the "Bug Club." "Presented at the Third Boston Meeting [1930] of the Society of American Bacteriologists." 10 pp

1953: San Francisco, California

  • Typescripts:
    • A Brief History of Virology in the San Francisco Bay Area. Edwin H. Lennette. 4 pp
    • Milk Grading in the Areas of Los Angeles County which are under the Jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Health Department. R. V. Stone. 7 pp
    • The Golden Gate Branch of the Society of American Bacteriologists and the Pasteur Society of Central California. Max S. Marshall. 5 pp
    • The History of Dairy Bacteriology in California. R. W. Newman. 17 pp
    • Bacteriology in the University of California Medical Center. Max S. Marshall. 3 pp
    • History of Microbiological Research on Wines at the University of California. W. V. Cruess. 19 pp
    • Universities of Southern California. [?] 39 pp

1954: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Typescripts:
    • The History of Food and Industrial Microbiology. [Allegheny Branch area] William W. Leathen. 14 pp
    • A Brief History of Bacteriology at Penn State, 1904-1954. M. A. Farrell. 3 pp
    • The History of the Central Pennsylvania and Allegheny Branches of the Society of American Bacteriologists. [?] 3 pp
    • A Brief History of General and Agricultural Bacteriology at West Virginia University and the West Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. H. A. Wilson. 6 pp 
    • A Brief History of Bacteriology at the School of Medicine, West Virginia University. John M. Slack. 10 pp
    • Report on the History of Bacteriology in Pittsburgh (Public Health and Educational  Institutions.) Charles Gainor. 5 pp
    • The History of Bacteriology in Hospitals inPittsburgh. George R. Lacy. 8 pp

1955: New York, New York

  • Typescripts(with occasional marginalia by Paul F. Clark):
    • Introductory Remarks. Gustav I. Steffen. 2 pp
    • Early Bacteriology in Hospitals and Medical Schools in New York City. Marion E. Wilson. 17 pp
    • A Bacteriological Firmament is Born. Wade W. Oliver. (on Biggs, Park, and Williams.) 9 pp
    • The Early History of Bacteriology in Brooklyn. Arnold H. Eggerth. 7 pp

1956: Houston, TX

  • Typescripts:
    • The History of Bacteriology in Texas. O.B. Williams and W.B Sharp

In recognition of the American Society for Microbiology's designation of the location of the University of Pennsylvania's Laboratory of Hygiene as a Milestones in Microbiology site, the tradition of a local history symposium was revived in 2009.  

2009: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

    • DVD Recording:
      • Ben Franklin: Microbiologist? Douglas Eveleigh. [this talk was part of the session, but was not recorded]
      • David Bergey's Legacy in Bacterial Classification. William B. Whitman
      • Stuart Mudd and the Cold War Politics of Health. William C. Summers
      • Master of the Microscope: Joseph Leidy. Joan W. Bennett
      • Philadelphia Microbiology, Past, Present and Future: 1750s to 2025. James A. Poupard (Annual History of Microbiology Lecture)