The Oxford Medical Society was formed in 1892. The minutes of their first meeting, held on 14th Oct. 1892, state that ‘the objects of the Society be the discussion of subjects relating to the Science and Practice of Medicine & Surgery’. All members of the medical profession working in Oxford were eligible to become members, and students were allowed to attend meetings as associates. The success of the society over the years lay in its combination of practitioners and researchers, and its inclusion of both ‘town and gown’.
Sir Henry Acland was invited to be the first president and accepted with the caveat that his advanced age had slowed him down somewhat, ‘I shall if selected feel it a pleasure to do my best and feel it a duty to accept the kind honor. But I am in my 78th year – and tho’ more deeply interested than ever in the wonderful progress of Medicine in every direction, I cannot feel the power to keep pace with that advance, do what I will’.
|Letter from H.W. Acland, Oct. 1892|
In fact Acland resigned his position after a few months in objection to the practice of smoking at meetings: a lone voice in the medical profession at the time.
The records of the Oxford Medical Society have been on deposit at the Bodleian since 1959. A recent deposit by the Secretary, Dr. Alex Gatherer, has brought the collection up to date, and it now covers all papers from the Society’s inception in 1892, to its merger with the Oxford Medical Alumni in 2005. The catalogue is available online.