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January 1, 1982

A Society of Physicians: An Account of the Activities of the Members of the Massachusetts Medical Society, 1923-1981

JAMA. 1982;247(1):87. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320260065042

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Medical society histories may easily be uninspiring and dry, both in subject and prose. Everett Spencer's text is a pleasant exception to that rule. Mr Spencer, executive secretary of the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), has drawn his observations on the formation and internal workings of the MMS from previously unpublished and unavailable documents. Spencer presents a comprehensive account of the MMS, its aims, politics, and personalities, lucidly and with humor. The result is a diverse sampling of the world of organized medicine.

The story begins with general historical information showing the MMS as a group of voluntarily organized physicians. The chapter following, entitled "A Matter of Shading and Degree," offers intriguing reports on noteworthy cases over which the Committee on Ethics and Discipline presided. The history of the venerated New England Journal of Medicine is then explored in detail. Included are its initial use as a "house organ" and the