Past Presidents

Past Presidents | ASCRS

1942 to 1944

It is now two years since a meeting of the American Proctologic Society was held. It IS well that we meet this year even though it may mean that some difficulties are encountered in arrangement and perhaps our traveling and living accommodations are not as comfortable as heretofore.

The life and growth of any organization depends upon the interest displayed by its members and this is accentuated in any scientific group that gives to its members the opportunity of presenting the results of their work and study. This is a critical period through which we are passing and what we do now will have a lasting effect upon the progress and life of our specialty, but I am confident that the same guiding principles of the right, justice and professional integrity will see us through this emergency.

Many of our members have been called into the various services of our armed forces and in many instances have been assigned work that is compatible with their training. The military affairs committee headed by Dr. Buie has accomplished much in its effort to see that the men prepared to do Proctology were given the opportunity to serve in that branch of medicine. This not only applied to members of our Society, but all men who in their judgment had the proper qualifications that would justify their assignment to Proctologic surgery.

1941 to 1942

At the outset may I say that I am deeply grateful for the honor and privilege of serving as president of this society. I keenly appreciate the heightened responsibility which these changing and troubled times place upon me, even as they do upon each of you. The forty-third annual meeting of the American Proctologic Society finds our society at a critical period of its development in the most critical period of our country’s history. I say a critical period of our development because to the present time the founders and builders of this society have given us a position of leadership in our specialty and what we do with this position of trust and responsibility in a rapidly changing world has much to do with the future progress of proctology as a recognized specialty. The gains attained have been through the efforts of a comparatively few men, but the fullest development of our opportunities and possibilities and will require the efforts of many.

1940 to 1941

In the last few years a conviction has arisen, both within and without the medical profession, that some means should be taken to compel those who practice as specialists to have had adequate training to warrant them in making use of the name of "specialist." This idea was foreibly brought forth in the Surrey of Education, made by Willard C. Rappleye for the Department of the Interior of the United States Government in 1930. In one of the concluding paragraphs on this report on "Medical Education," he says, "the training of specialists is another phase of the larger problems of training personnel to meet needs of the country. The time will come when the medical profession and the public authorities will devise ways and means of guaranteeing to the public that those who claim to be specialists are, in fact, competent by training and experience to perform the service they claim to be able to render."

1939 to 1940

For the past few years it has been customary for your President, in his address, to give some form of scientific or philosophic discussion on a definite phase of pathology encountered in our specialty. Many excellent papers have been presented by the members of this outstanding society on every variety of disease involving the anus, rectum, and colon. These articles have proved, fundamentally, the need of thorough anatomic knowledge, of basic physiologic study, and of careful surgical training, if satisfactory results are to be obtained.

Our organization, now in its forty-first year, is to be envied, and deserves the highest praise for the great strides that have been made in convincing a former skeptical laity and a none-too-helpful medical profession, that the diagnosis and treatment of proctologic disease in an ethical way can best be accomplished by assigning such particular ailments to those physicians who have been properly prepared to treat them.

Many of you have witnessed my best efforts in presenting scientific papers, and you have been patient and tolerant in a most respectful way. It is my desire to thank you for the consideration you have shown me in the past.

1938 to 1939

Gentlemen of the American Proctologic Society and Guests:

The American Proctologic Society in the years since it was established under the leadership of the Father of Proctology, Dr. Mathews, has gained an enviable position among special medical societies and has succeeded in establishing proctology as a recognized specialty.

The presidency of this organization is an honor I deeply appreciate and am especially grateful to be able to preside at this meeting because of the fact that I was prevented by illness from presiding at the Philadelphia session in 1931. Thus your kindness and fine courtesy has assuaged my disappointment of eight years ago.

Much of this address may be, and probably is, old stuff to many of you; but I hope that some of it may filter out into the practice of the occasional proctologist, the general surgeon and the general practitioner.

Neglect of details is a prime cause of poor results in medical and surgical practice, but especially in proctology because few general surgeons and general practitioners have had adequate training in this specialty.

Unnecessary pain in examination, treatment and postoperative care has convinced the public that it is hell to have anything done in this region, whereas the contrary is true, and practically all pain can be eliminated by attention to detail. The chief cause of delay in diagnosis of cancer of the rectum is this fear of examination. In my series of 420 cases it accounts for six of the eleven and a half months average delay after the appearance of symptoms before diagnosis is made. The balance of this delay is caused by several factors, among which are suppositories and lack of attention to the details of efficient examination when the patient consults the doctor.

1937 to 1938

Our Hosts, Fellow Members and Guests:
The object of a Society such as ours is primarily to gather together all the representative men who are in this line of work into one National Society. Of necessity it must include all the men who are teaching Proctology throughout the United States. It is 23 years since the Society last met in San Francisco. It is 28 years since the first survey on the teaching of Proctology in the medical schools of the country was made by the late Dr. Dwight Murray, of Syracuse. I have with me a copy of the 1910 National Proceedings. The meeting was held in St. Louis. The officers at that time were: President Dwight H. Murray; Vice-President T. Chittenden Hill; Secretary-Treasurer Lewis H. Adler, Jr. All three of these have since gone beyond.

Dr. Murray received replies to his questionnaire from 32 of the 52 different medical schools throughout the United States at that time. An interesting thing is that those replies showed that in 29 departments of Proctology the teaching in Proctology was done under surgery. In one it was done under gastro-enterology, and in one under gynecology. There was a definite Proctologic unit in but one of the colleges.

In 1936 I prepared a report and presented it to you. It never appeared in the "Transactions." Hence the material was sidetracked. This report showed a vastly improved standing in the teaching of Proctology. There were 12 absolutely distinct and separate Departments of Proctology in medical schools. The Department Head had the rank of Professorship, and gave adequate courses. There were 32 others that had courses established and proper men in the department. So you can see that from one real course back in 1910, we had risen in 1936 to a total number of 33 satisfactory and adequate courses. This marked a step forward.

1936 to 1937

It is becoming that my first words on this occasion should be ones of appreciation and gratitude for the honor conferred upon me in selecting me as your president. From the very beginning I have considered it one of the greatest privileges of my professional life to be a member of the American Proctologic Society a man can have no greater satisfaction in life than to feel that he has the confidence and esteem of his co-workers. The good work of this Society and the high qualifications of my predecessors, make me realize more that the honor is a great one, and causes me to feel a deep responsibility in the duties of the office which they have so well filled.

Whatever success may attend this annual meeting must be attributed to the splendid cooperation of our friendly, experienced and efficient secretary, Curtis Rosser, member of the Executive Council, the local committees and to all others who take an active part in our program.

In fulfilling the obligation incident to leadership, it has been the custom for the President to deliver an address, the nature of which is not specified, but by implication, he is supposed to give an account of his stewardship as well as to discuss policies which will be useful in the further advancement of proctology, and of those ideals of medical practice which this Society sponsors.

1935 to 1936

Thirty-seven years ago on June 6th, a group of thirteen physicians met in Columbus, Ohio, at the Great Southern Hotel and organized the American Proctologic Society. Prior to that time Proctology was practiced here and there by ethical, thoughtful and conscientious men. More frequently it was practiced by irregulars, quacks and charlatans. The formation of this organization was the signal for this specialty to emerge from its medieval state into the beginning of its renaissance.

The success of this first meeting was largely clue to the energy and perseverance of Dr. William M. Beach of Pittsburgh. and to the activity of Dr. Samuel T. Earle of Baltimore and Dr. Thomas Charles Martin of Cleveland. These three men seem to have been the pioneers in the formation of the Society. Dr. James P. Tuttle was the temporary Chairman and Dr. J. Rawson Pennington the Secretary pro tem. Dr. Joseph M. Mathews was elected the First President and Dr. William M. Beach the first Secretary.

In looking back over the records we find the Presidential addresses were started in 1900 and have been continued ever since.

A small volume of Transactions was published the first year, then discontinued. In 1908 the publication was revived and appeared annually for a period of three years. In 1908 The Proctologist, a magazine published by Dr. Rollin H. Barnes in St. Louis was given the privilege of publishing the papers presented before the Society. This was continued to my knowledge, as late as June 1917.

1934 to 1935

I wish to address you today, not as your president nor as a Fellow of the American Proctologic Society, but as one of a vast body of ethical practitioners of medicine interested in the economic and physical security of those among whom we dwell. This is a period of strong agitations, and we are surrounded by conditions which threaten the security of our institutions. It behooves us to take our bearing and lay our course.

Among those sentiments which are most honorable and which are most productive of worthy emotions are those of veneration for our forefathers and of love for our posterity. If one respects the former, one cherishes their accomplishments and takes pride in their virtues. From roots deep in the loam of filial reverence are developed efficiency and power, and through parental interest and affection, the problems of one age are linked with those of each preceding age in constant growth. And so it has been with our organization.

1933 to 1934

A time-honored custom of this Society since its inception has decreed that the President shall address it at the beginning of each annual meeting. This is a fine practice since the speaker usually is a veteran in its membership, one who has worked in it long and who loves it much.

This is the Thirty-fifth Annual Meeting, and I am deeply sensible of the honor of being selected to preside over its deliberations, and also as the successor to the long line of honorable and capable men who have preceded me in this office. I am asking for your unselfish cooperation and support in our deliberations. My happy acquaintanceship and contacts with you over a period of years completely assure me that this is forthcoming.

Since no one is endowed with the gift of prophesy, my remarks can only follow the general trend of the columnist in his daily letter bearing such captions as "It Seems to Me," or "I Dare Say."

A survey of our membership, both Fellows and Associates, should give us much satisfaction. It enrolls the names of the outstanding physicians who limit their practice to proctologic disease.

1932 to 1933

Thirty-four years ago Joseph Matthews, the first proctologist, lent to this chair a dignity and honor which reflects on all of us who have succeeded him. I would not have this body think me ungrateful for this opportunity to preside over the American Proctologic Society in its thirty-fourth annual session nor unconscious of the distinction you have graciously conferred in permitting me to follow here the many splendid leaders of our specialty who have been so instrumental in establishing it.

While medical history records that the first surgeon crept out from under a barber’s chair, pride in the profession's subsequent achievements very properly prevents a too apologetic attitude on the part of the surgeon concerning its humble origin.

Proctologists are prone to regard their work as unduly exposed to illegitimate and unorthodox competition, but the members of several other specialties would assure us that we are not alone. It has, however, been illuminating to observe the decimination in the rank, of the vicious venereal disease quacks since the urologists of this country have offered to the public a trained and interested group and to see the gradual decline in the popularity of the one-flight-up Main Street stomach specialist and colonic laundry once the prospective patient was assured of the ability and special competence of the orthodox gastroenterologist.

Proctology, a field so long abandoned by the general profession to the quack and the irregular has been in recent years to a large measure reclaimed to orthodox medicine through increasing realization of its import in the general medical scheme by the evolution of undergraduate instruction in anorectal disease and from a definite demand on the part of general practitioners that disorders so widespread in their clientele should have the benefit of careful and scientific consideration in place of the alluring promises of the charlatan.

1931 to 1932

It is my great privilege and pleasure to welcome you to our thirty-third annual meeting of the American Proctologic Society.

As you know, the Society was organized and held its first meeting in 1899. We have, therefore, been in existence for one-third of a century.

Presidential addresses are sometimes tiresome. I bring you glad tidings. Mine will be non-scientific and very short.

Since 1920 we have been fluttering about the country and have at last returned to the nest that has so long awaited us. Our well-beloved Jelks has spent many seasons in bringing carefully selected twigs, vines and leaves with which to build this nest and has repeatedly implored us to come to this haven and rest. Dr. John Jelks, we are here!

In reading over past presidential addresses in the "Transactions," it is indeed a great pleasure and comfort to recall suggestions and admonitions and prophecies of those great men; many who have gone from us and, thank God, many who are with us today. The prophecies have mostly come true.

T. Chittenden Hill in 1916 said: "Members of this Society who live in the West have been more successful than we in the East in getting Departments of Proctology established in existing hospitals, and are to be Congratulated; and the present would appear to be a favorable time to advocate having proctology taught in the schools." In this connection he called attention to the address of Murray in 1910, in which he gave us some valuable first-hand information concerning undergraduate instruction in proctology from the point of view of the medical teacher and general practitioner. In this address he showed very conclusively that there was practically no systematic teaching of this subject in the leading medical schools throughout the United States and Canada.

1930 to 1931
1929 to 1930

Second only to the field of Genito Urinary disease Proctology has offered the most fertile and widely exploited field for the charlatan and the quack. The cause of this I place squarely upon the shoulders of the medical profession and the medical colleges. In the past practically no instruction in Proctology was offered to students of medicine. The result was that the average medical student graduated with practically no knowledge of rectal disease. Even at present there are but few institutions which offer anything like adequate training. Originally this may have been due to the fact that there were no teachers available who had much experience in this field. On the other hand the departments of General Surgery offered every opposition to any one who wished to develop a department of Proctology. It was deemed a personal affront to assume that the General Surgeons were not caring for their rectal cases in the best possible manner. Proctology was seen as just another specialty to divorce the general surgeon from another portion of his work. Regardless of what may have been thought by the surgeons, the fact remains, that rectal surgery was done in a very haphazard and slipshod manner. It rather compares to some of the tonsillectomies where it was often difficult to say whether a larger portion of the tonsil had been removed or left in the throat. After care was neglected, or thought unnecessary. The patients however thought differently. After going thru the ordeal of the operation many were not benefited, or at least not permanently cured, and many were undoubtedly made worse. With so many patients haying this experience it is no wonder that the public feared the pain of rectal operations, and distrusted the results.

With rectal diseases neglected, or poorly treated by the profession, the field was ripe for anyone offering a method which avoided operation. About 1891 the injection method for the treatment of hemorrhoids came into being.

1928 to 1929

As President of the American Proctologic Society; in behalf of the Detroit members and men who are allied with us in Proctology, and in the name of the Wayne County Medical Society I would like to offer my most sincere and cordial welcome to you.

We have made an attempt to have an interesting program this year. We have had some very fine co-operation. I hope that you all will have a mighty good time here and I hope the meeting will be pleasant and profitable.

Our exhibitors have been very kind in co-operating with us. Those having books on proctology and allied subjects have been willing and anxious to loan us their publications for exhibit. The Hanes table will be on exhibit. The Buie table is also in the exhibit room for your inspection. You will be shown a film which is perhaps one of the most outstanding films of stomach and intestinal peristalsis. There are many interesting and modern proctologic instruments on exhibition. In the scientific exhibit we are particularly indebted to Dr. Charles E. Pope of the Mayo Clinic and he will explain his work on the circulation of the sigmoid and rectum. We have specimens of carcinoma of the sigmoid. There are several from Harper Hospital, and the Ford Hospital has placed a very adequate exhibit of mounted specimens.

1927 to 1928

I would not avoid expressing the anxiety which I feel on this occasion. I have too high a sense of the importance of the many problems which confront us to feel easy in my mind as I set myself to the task of suggesting ways of meeting them, and I am conscious of a certain timidity in venturing to set forth my opinions before the many eminent men of mature mind whom this Society boasts of as members. But even in spite of this timidity I call still feel my zeal stirred by recollection of those great men who conceived this organization, and my desire quickened to emulate them. Some of them are still in our midst; of many we have but the memory and the example they set.

It is the duty of each of us to devote coherent and constructive thought toward the advancement of our efforts in behalf of the sick. For this purpose we must give expression in each other's presence to constructive sentiment which obviously cannot he horn spontaneously, but must be the child of our daily activities. It behooves us, therefore, to give attention to the problems of our Society, which are of national scope, at other times than during the few hours of these pleasant associations at our annual meetings. And further, it ill befits any of us to become offended when others of our body, with sincerity of purpose, may appear to assail certain principals which we may sponsor. It is by such wit-matching that the truth is often best revealed and it not infrequently happens, just at the time when we may feel comfortably ensconced and secure in some apparently well-established belief or method, that the clarity and precision of thought which discussion fosters will cause us to revise our former practices.

1926 to 1927

I want to thank the members of this association and assure them of my grateful appreciation of the honor of being allowed to preside at this, the twenty-eighth annual session of this organization. I have a few suggestions to make "for the good of the order," but as they cannot be discussed here, will defer them until later. You have succeeded in building a splendid organization and the society is to be congratulated in many ways and for many things. But if we relax in vigilance it might yet be overthrown. and its power to do good lost. The reason it has stood the test so long and so well is that it was begun and built on a firm foundation. If you will revert back to its incipience you will be at once reminded that in its very beginning there were men of reputation and ability in the lead, most of whom have been called away but have left their impress with us. Let us at least emulate their example and follow their advice. Watch, I beg of you the outposts, least those who are not worthy may slip the 'non-attention' guard.


1925 to 1926

Former Presidents with profound interest in this Society have emphasized the need of more competent proctologists throughout the country. They have deplored the fact that the teaching of proctology in many undergraduate medical schools is still neglected and that proctology as a specialty has not received from hospital staffs the recognition it deserves.

Graduates of the majority of the medical schools come to our hospitals as internes entirely ignorant of how to make a rectal examination of what they see when they do try to make one and of the great amount of pathology to be found.

Postgraduate courses in proctology are always well attended, papers on proctologic subjects are in demand by medical societies and the discussions which follow indicate the need for more and better education along this line. Dr. Jackson has pointed out the crying need of proctologists in cities of 50,000 population and upwards, of which there are so many throughout the United States and Canada.