History

EARLY HISTORY

The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia began its career on a June afternoon in 1868 in the office of a remarkable Quaker physician by the name of Albert Holmes Smith when 9 men met to create the Society.

Dr. Smith was young, and he had been trained by Dr. Joseph Warrington to deliver the poor as well as middle class Philadelphia matrons in their homes thru the Philadelphia Lying-In Charity created in 1828. Those trained by Warrington created an obstetrical society around him in the 1840’s but it disappeared with his death, leaving a large professional void.

Originally, the membership of the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia, when it met in the Halls of the College of Physicians at 9:00 p.m. once a month, was composed of men interested in the diseases and problems peculiar to women. Women physicians were not allowed to be members.

The 9:00 p.m. black tie affairs featuring case presentations, coroner’s autopsy specimens and arguments and discussion — all of which was stenographically recorded, edited and published, were memorable events. They gradually gave way to special symposia, tri-city conferences and special OR clinics (which were attended by members wearing ordinary street clothes). Today the Obstetrical Society is the educating arm of both “town and gown” — for those who are board certified obstetricians and gynecologists, those who are in training and those who confine their work to diseases peculiar to women, but don’t wish to be involved with surgery or midwifery.

The first president, Francis Gurney Smith, was a medical generalist who founded the first physiology lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. The most academically prominent of the original founders of the Society was William Goodell — the first clinical professor of gynecology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School. A failure in the general practice of medicine in the small town of West Chester, Pennsylvania, 25 miles west of Philadelphia, Goodell was brought into “Philly” to start up the Preston Retreat, an endowed maternity facility for poor white married women, in 1866. With astute management (including paying the infected women to go to Philadelphia General Hospital for delivery), the Preston eventually ranked #1 in the world for safety at delivery. It was renowned for the absence of childbed or puerperal fever as a result of Goodell’s procedures and practices, involving extreme cleanliness.

In 1876 the children, especially the newborns, died “like flies” in the summertime. Goodell felt that the Obstetrical Society should create a pamphlet showing the mothers how to keep their babies clean by using clean diapers and bathing them and dressing them in clean clothes. Indeed, Goodell personally paid for the pamphlets for the Society in the beginning. For some 20 years or more, these early pamphlets on child care were a great success, eventually being taken over by the city health department as public health became a dominate institutionalized force in Philadelphia.

As astute and beloved by medical students as William Goodell was, he would not tolerate women as physicians whereas Albert Holmes Smith was their champion. The pioneer medical work of the women professors in what is now MCP was read before the Society and then pushed to publication by Albert Holmes Smith; and, of course, long after he died women physicians were finally admitted to the Society membership. Indeed, four have become president Catherine McFarland, Mary Dewitt Pettit, Elsie Carrington and Dorothy Barbo. Goodell felt that the presence of women at the Society’s meetings would stifle discussion. Smith felt that the men present were friends of women. Marie K. Formad was the first woman member. She was the daughter of the coroner, Henry Formad, who participated each month.

Pulling the 19th century practices and beliefs into the 20th century was not easy. There were many famous arguments especially with town physician Joseph Price who literally modernized abdominal surgery at his private hospital (now gone) in order to create modern GYN surgery.

There are approximately 400 members with 40% women physicians at this time. Three states are represented: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The membership encompasses 4 medical schools as well as one school of osteopathic medicine. Membership is not restricted to a favored few. It is open to all physicians restricting their work to the care of women’s unique problems.

Here is a list of all Presidents of The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia of record.

Listing of all Past Presidents

1868-69 – Francis Gurney Smith
1870-71 – Robert P. Harris
1872-73 – William Goodell
1874-75 – Albert H. Smith
1876 – John S. Parry
1877-78 -John H. Packard
1879-80 – Lewis D. Harlow
1881-82 – Edward I. Duer
1883-84 – R. A. Cleeman
1885-86 – Benjamin F. Baer
1887-88 – Thomas M. Drysdale
1889 – Theophilis Parvin
1890 -William H. Parish
1891-92 – W. H. H. Githens
1893-94 – B. C. Hirst
1894 – William H. Parish
1896-97 – E. E. Montgomery
1900-01 – John DaCosta
19002-03 – J. M. Fisher
1904-05 – R. C. Norris
1906-07 – Wilmer Krusen
1908-09 – John D. Blady
1910-11 – Edward P. Davis
1912-13 – George M. Boyd
1914 – George Erety Shoemaker
1915 – Daniel Longaker
1916 – William R. Nicholson
1917 – Frank C. Hammond
1918 – Barton Cooke Hirst
1919 – F. Hurst Maier
1920 – Edward A. Schumann
1921 – John McGlinn
1922 – Stephen E. Tracey
1923 – William E. Parke
1924 – Edmund B. Pioer
1925 – Brooke Anspach
1926 – Norman L. Knipe
1927 – Philip E. Williams
1928 – P. Brooke Bland
1929 to May 1930 – Charles C. Norris
May 1930 to May 1931 – Collin Foulkrod
May 1931 to May 1932 – Floyd E. Keene
May 1932 to May 1933 – Charles S. Barnes
May 1933 to May 1934 – Clifford B. Lull
May 1934 to May 1935 – Norris W. Vauyx
May 1935 to May 1936 – George A. Ulridh
May 1936 to May 1937 – George M. Laws
May 1937 to May 1938 – Lewis C. Sheffey
May 1938 to May 1939 – Robert A. Kimbrough, Jr.
May 1939 to May 1940 – Thomas B. Lee
May 1940 – May 1941 – Roy W. Mohler
May 1941 to May 1942 – Thaddeus Montgomery
May 1942 to May 1943 – John C. Hirst
May 194 to May 1944 – Catherine Macfarlane
May 1944 to May 1945 – Charles A. Behney
May 1945 to May 1946 – Bernard Mann
May 1946 to May 1947 – F. Sidney Dunne
May 1947 to May 1948 – John B. Montgomery
May 1948 to May 1949 – Carl Bachman
May 1949 to May 1950 – Newlin F. Paxson
May 1950 to May 1951 – James P. Lewis
May 1951 to May 1952 – J. Marsh Alesbury
May 1952 to May 1953 – Franklin L. Payne
May 1953 to May 1954 – Benjamin Leff
May 1954 to May 1955 – J. Robert Willson
May 1955 to May 1956 – S. Leon Israel
May 1956 to May 1957 – George A. Hahn
May 1957 to May 1958 – Robert M. Junter
May 1958 to May 1959 – Owen J. Toland
May 1959 to May 1960 – Paul Klingensmith
May 1960 to May 1961 – J. Edward Lynch
May 1961 to May 1962 – Mary Dewitt Pettit
May 1962 to May 1963 – Paul Bowers
May 1963 to May 1964 – Bruce V. MacFadyen
May 1964 to May 1965 – Clayton T. Beecham
May 1965 to May 1966 – Clarence Briscoe
May 1966 to May 1967 – George C. Lewis, Jr.
May 1967 to May 1968 – John D. Corbit
May 1968 to May 1969 – Edward H. Bishop
May 1969 to May 1970 – Elsie R. Carrington
May 1970 to May 1971 – Harry Fields
May 1971 to May 1972 – James D. Garnett
May 1972 to May 1973 – Russell de Alvarez
May 1973 to May 1974 – John P. Emich
May 1974 to May 1975 – George Androw
May 1975 to May 1976 – John J. Mikuta
May 1976 to May 1977 – Joseph J. Price
May 1977 to May 1978 – Domenic Pontarelli
May 1978 to May 1979 – Richard H. Schwarz
May 1979 to May 1980 – Edward Wallach
May 1980 to May 1981 – Kaighn Smith
May 1981 to May 1982 – Benjamin Kendall
May 1982 to May 1983 – William Slate
May 1983 to May 1984 – James Batts
May 1984 to May 1985 – Luigi Mastroianni, Jr.
May 1985 to May 1986 – Louis Gerstley
May 1986 to May 1987 – W. Robert Penman
May 1987 to May 1988 – Leon Peris
August 1987 to May 1988 – Joel Polin
May 1988 to May 1989 – Jan Schneider
May 1989 to May 1990 – Dorothy Barbo
May 1990 to May 1991 – Richard Baker
May 1991 to May 1992 – Thomas Rocereto
May 1992 to May 1993 – William Beck
May 1993 to May 1994 – Joel Polin
May 1994 to May 1995 – David Goodner
May 1995 to May 1996 – Peter Schwartz
May 1996 to May 1997 – Joel Noumoff
May 1997 to May 1998 – Enrique Hernandez
May 1998 to May 1999 – Leonore Huppert
May 1999 to May 2000 – Vincent Pellegrini
May 2000 to May 2001 – Owen Montgomery
May 2001 to May 2002 – Alan Donnenfeld
May 2002 to May 2003 – Ann L. Honebrink
May 3003 to May 2004 – Lamar Ekbladh
May 2004 to May 2005 – Guy Hewlett
May 2005 to May 2006 – Mark Woodland
2006-07 Jacqueline Gutmann, MD
2007-08 Arnold Cohen, MD
2008-09 Joan Zeidman, MD
2009-10 Al Peters, DO
2010-11 Susan Kaufman, DO
2011-12 Jane Porcelan, MD, JD, FACOG
2012-13 Albert El-Roeiy, M.D., M.B.A.
2013-14 Marjorie Angert, D.O., M.P.H.
2014-15 Jason K. Baxter, M.D., M.S.C.P.

2015-16 Helen Widzer, M. D. FACOG