October 1999 Bulletin

Past presidents remembered in AAOS display

Memories of Academy past presidents haven't faded away.

Just visit the seventh floor of Academy headquarters where you'll find wall-mounted glass cases with the personal momentos of eight Academy past presidents.

Some rarities include a 1930 title page for the first edition of A Text-Book on Orthopedic Surgery written by the second Academy president, Willis C. Campbell, MD (1933-34) and two original lithographic plates from the book. There's also a hand-written diary from the fourth Academy president, Frank D. Dickson, MD, (1935-36). The entry was written on Nov. 11, 1918, Armistice Day ending World War I, while he was stationed in the U.S. Army in France. You'll also find a Boy Scout bugler photograph of the 28th Academy president, Hugh M. Smith Jr., MD, (1960-61). Other unique keepsakes include cuff links, a golf award, a cigarette case and organizational pins.

The historical collection is relatively new. The project is an extension of the Historical Display Oversight Panel's goal to create a permanent collection of historically significant orthopaedic devices, which is on the first floor of the Academy.

Collecting material for this exhibit began a few years ago after James J. Hamilton, MD, chairman of the orthopaedic department at the University of Missouri at Kansas City/Truman Medical Center, was approached by the families of deceased Academy past presidents. "Rather than keeping their orthopaedic memorabilia in a shoebox, I thought the Academy would find some use for it," explains Dr. Hamilton. "I think it's important to recognize and remember those people and understand the contributions they made. I felt the shadow box concept would present the image of the physician as a person, as well as an orthopaedic leader."

In an effort to include every past Academy president, Dr. Hamilton has sent letters to past presidents and the families of those who are deceased.

The 47th Academy president, John J. Gartland, MD, (1979-80) donated his gavel, an American Orthopaedic Association key, a Sigma Xi key and an engraved burl pipe rest-without the pipe-which presented by his senior residents in 1979. "I lost the pipe that was in the shape of a femoral head prosthesis," explains Dr. Gartland. "It's [this display] a way to keep your memory alive. We all contributed something to the Academy. You can't stay there a year and not contribute something. You do your duty, get off stage and let other people run it. It's [the artifacts] what's left over now to remember us."

The project is slowly gathering momentum as Dr. Hamilton receives other momentos. However, Dr. Hamilton says some living past presidents don't want to send material. "Let's face it, being an Academy president is at the high point of their career," he says. "They have memorabilia they cherish and enjoy. I want the past Academy presidents to tell their families that when they die, they can share these things by giving them back to the Academy where all orthopaedists can understand the contributions they've made and who these people were. Or, if they'd like, send some items to me now."

Given the space limitations, Dr. Hamilton says he is looking for personal items such as old jewelry, cufflinks, a fountain pen or an old ring no larger than 1 inch thick and photographs no larger than a 5 inches x 7 inches, preferably 3 x 5. "There's no way I can take a trophy or drinking cup,"stresses Dr. Hamilton. "The items have to be relatively small to fit in the display."

However, one exception was made for additional space for an exhibit entitled, "Don't Throw Away the Cane," the personal collection of canes from Walter P. Blunt, MD, the 23rd Academy president, (1955-56). The bamboo cane is one of the original canes given to guests at his presidential dinner held in Feb. 1, 1956 at the Palmer House in Chicago. Ill.

Before any past presidents and/or their families send momentos, Dr. Hamilton suggests they contact him at (816) 556-3561.

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