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The American Veterinary Medical History Society was initially formed in 1978 by a group of interested veterinarians to recall the past and relate it in an interesting fashion to their colleagues in the present, and to collect and place in suitable archives the record of "remembered" past from as many sources as possible.

Founded by J. Fred Smithcors, DVM, PhD with William E. Ryan, DVM, the Society held its first formal meeting at the American Veterinary Medical Association convention in Dallas, Texas in 1978. 

Initially, it was known as the American Veterinary History Society, until the name was changed in 1999 to the American Veterinary Medical History Society. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization. 

The organizing group of charter members were made up of those interested in studying and preserving books, photographs, and artifacts of the past and present. Even today, members still have many diverse interests, such as being avid readers of primary and secondary historical resource materials, as genealogists seeking background information on veterinarians of the past, or as collectors of books, prints, medallions, stamps, logos, diplomas, patent medicine and advertising items, antique veterinary instruments, postcards, and more. Topics of interest also vary from American Civil War and military veterinary medicine to advancements in clinical practice as 19th century "horse doctors" transitioned to modern companion animal practitioners.

The Society held its 25th Anniversary in Denver in 2003.

The American Veterinary Medical History Society: Its First Twenty-Five Years. / J.F. Smithcors (2003).

This booklet compiled by Dr. Smithcors tells the story of the Society from its founding in 1978 to the celebration of its first 25 years in 2003.

Tribute to J. Fred Smithcors: A Biographical Sketch and His Publications on History

This is a brief biographical sketch of Dr. J. Fred Smithcors and his involvement with the history of veterinary medicine. lt also includes a bibliography of his publications related to history.

"The Enduring Humor of J. Fred Smithcors," by Kenneth B. Haas

Dr. Haas provides insights into the humor of Dr. J. Fred Smithcors through "two thousand years of veterinary history as told in alliteration." This paper appeared in: Veterinary Heritage. 2006 May;29(1): 19-22.

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First Formal Organizational Meeting

The American Veterinary Historical Society held its first formal meeting and program at the AVMA Convention in Dallas, Texas in July, 1978.. 


Bylaws were presented and approved

At the sixth annual meeting held at the AVMA Convention in New York City in 1983, Revised Bylaws were presented and approved.


Veterinary Heritage began publication

The Society began publishing a semi-annual journal titled, Veterinary Heritage: Bulletin of the American Veterinary Historical Society, beginning with vol.6, No. 2, April, 1983. In included minutes of the annual meetings as well as original research articles on veterinary history.


Student Veterinary History Essay Contest established

Dr. Robert R. Shomer of New Jersey established an essay contest in honor of Dr. J. Fred Smithcors. It was open to any veterinary student to research and write on a topic related to veterinary history.


Essay contest prizes supported by Merck & Company

Beginning in 1995 and continuing through 2009, prize money for winning student essays was generously provided Merck & Company in association with The Merck Veterinary Manual.


Society was re-incorporated as the American Veterinary Medical History Society

When the Society was re-incorporated in 1998, its name was changed from the American Veterinary HIstorical Society tthe American Veterinary Medical History Society.


News & Comment newsletter was begun

A News & Comment column first appeared in an issue of Veterinary Heritage by Dr. Phyllis H. Larsen who served as reporter. Later separate separate newsletter issues were produced known as Interim News & Comment.


AVMHS Website created

The Society's first Website was created for and hosted at the University of Missouri by Dr. Robert C. McClure.


XXXVII WAHVM International Congress hosted in United States

The Society hosted the XVII International Congress of the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine (WAHVM) held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in July, 2005.


Registry of Heritage Veterinary Practices established

The Society initiated the Registry of Heritage Veterinary Practices at the suggestion of then president Dr. Gary Vroegindewey following the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2006. It recognizes and honors veterinary practices that have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years of service to their communities.


First regional history meeting was held

Organized by Dr. Howard Erickson, the first regional veterinary history meeting with speakers was held in conjunciton with the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association meeting held in Manhattan, Kansas.


"Time-Bites" mini-history stories began publication

Initiated by Dr. Phyllis H. Larsen in 2009, AVMHS members began creating a series of mini-stories related to the history of veterinary medicine known as "Time-Bites." They are published exclusively on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) for the benefit of practicing veterinarians and veterinary students.


Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence essay contest prizes established

Prizes that are awarded to veterinary students in the AVMHS history essay contest were named in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence who served twice as AVMHS president and as a contest judge. This was made possible through the generosity of the Donaldson Charitable Trust.


Smithcors Symposium on Veterinary HIstory was held

In association with the 150th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a daylong Smithcors Symposium on Veterinary History was sponsored by AVMHS and organized by Dr. Howard H. Erickson. Attendees received AVMA CE credit for each of the eight presentations. 


History talks included on AVMA CE program

At the AVMA Convention held in Boston in July, 2015, four speaker presentations were included on the annual AVMA Continuing Education Program for which attendees could received CE credit. Arrangements for this "first" were organized by then president Dr. Boris Brglez.

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