Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-131
Location: LH-131

(Description ID: 595105)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Sandusky County, Ohio Medical Society


Agency History
Scope and Contentventory

The incomplete records of the Sandusky County Medical Society were perhaps a part of the Robert H. Rice Collection. For further information on the society’s origins, see Homer Everett’s History of Sandusky County, Ohio. Other local history collections, including the Women’s Auxiliary to the Sandusky County Medical Society and the papers of Drs. Robert H. Rice, John B. Rice, and James W. Wilson, may be helpful in understanding the activities and medical practice of Sandusky County’s nineteenth century physicians.

Agency History
The Sandusky County Medical Society was organized in November of 1879 by Drs. James W. Wilson, Thomas Stilwell, John B. and Robert H. Rice, Gustavus A. and Lewis S. T. Gessner, Sardis B. Taylor, John M. Corey, George E. Smith, and Martin Stamm. The constitution drafted by Smith, Rice, and Stilwell limited membership to Sandusky County, Ohio physicians who had attended a "regular" medical school. "Quacks or physicians who divided knowingly professional responsibility with a quack or associated with such in consultation" were excluded from membership. The constitution defined "quacks" as "physicians who practiced with nostrums or secret remedies. Any member guilty of "quackery, professional indecorum toward a member or a patient, or convicted of crimes resulting in injury or discredit toward the society" risked punishment by reprimand, suspension, or expulsion. The president appointed members to the Public Health and Hygiene and the Ethics and Grievances committees annually. A committee on Epidemics and Endemics was considered but not formed. The organization met monthly to consider new members, hear committee reports, present papers on medical topics, and hold clinical sessions.

As an auxiliary to the Ohio State Medical Society, the organization adopted the American Medical Association’s code of ethics. By 1891, membership grew from its ten charter members to twenty-nine. Although virtually inactive as an organization, the society continues to exist.

Scope and Content
The records of the Sandusky County Medical Society are an incomplete collection of poorly maintained, handwritten records reflecting the nineteenth century professional activities and health concerns of resident physicians. Despite weaknesses, they nevertheless contain important documentation about the society’s charter members, organizing instrument, and the state of medical care in Northwest Ohio from 1880 to 1891. The organization quickly recognized the need for establishing professional standards. Adopting the American Medical Association’s code of ethics, the Sandusky County Medical Society soon functioned as an auxiliary of the Ohio State Medical Association. The membership committee rapidly evolved into an official examining board that scrutinized the education, conduct, and practice of prospective members. The papers consist of three different series: minutes, membership rosters, and correspondence. The minutes of monthly meetings are nearly complete from the formation of the society in 1879 through 1891. Membership rosters exist for the years 1884 and 1887 through 1891. Exchanges of correspondence, dating from 1879 and extending to 1905, demonstrate the society’s interest in maintaining contact and learning from state, and national medical societies. Miscellaneous documents - resolutions, annual dinner programs, and notes - exist for approximately the same period as the correspondence.

Perhaps the most important series is the minutes. Papers and clinical sessions, highlighted in the minutes, provide fairly detailed reports on a variety of medical conditions exhibited by county residents, including: scarlet fever, diphtheria, pneumonia, uterine cancer, joint injuries, pyloric stenosis, eye diseases, and asthma. Not only do the individual case studies reveal the types of diseases and injuries common to northwest Ohio residents, but also demonstrate the determined efforts of Sandusky County physicians to improving health care by continuing their education and sharing their medical knowledge.


1. Minutes: 1879-1880
2. Minutes: 1881-1894
3. Membership Lists: 1884, 1887-1891
4. Correspondence
5. Miscellaneous Documents

Ac. 5517

Ohio State Medical Association Charter: 1924
Notes by J. L. Curtin, 1924

Transferred to the Museum:

Image of Dr. John B. Rice (steel engraving)