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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 AVMHS: Its First Twenty-Five Years, by J. Fred Smithcors (2003).

This booklet compiled by Dr. J. Fred Smithcors tells the story of this educational organization 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. It also includes a bibliography of his publications related to history.

"The Enduring Humor of J. Fred Smithcors," by Kenneth B. Haas (2006)

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



First Formal Organizational Meeting

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


Bylaws were presented and approved

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


Veterinary Heritage journal 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. It was intended to convey information about the Society's activities, including minutes of annual meetings, as well as publish original research articles on veterinary medical history. 


Smithcors Student Veterinary History Essay Contest established

Dr. Robert R. Shomer, a small animal veterinarian from New Jersey, established an essay contest in honor of Dr. J. Fred Smithcors. It was open to any veterinary student at colleges in the United States and Canada to research and write on a topic of their choice related to veterinary history.  


Student Essay Contest Supported by The Merck Veterinary Manual

Beginning in 1995 and continuing through 2009, prize money for winning essays in the student veterinary history essay contest was generously provided by The Merck Veterinary Manual. Copies of the latest editions of The Merck Veterinary Manual were also awarded to all student essayists. 


Society re-incorporated and renamed 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 to the American Veterinary Medical History Society. 


News & Comment news column begun

A News & Comment column first appeared in the November, 1999 issue of Veterinary Heritage. Initiated by Dr. Phyllis H. Larsen who served as Reporter for many years, it was intended to share news and information about activities, people, new books, etc. as well as provide editorial commentary related to veterinary history. Separate issues known as Interim News & Comment newsletter were also produced.  


AVMHS Website created

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


25th Anniversary celebrated in Denver

Members celebrated the Society's 25th Anniversary with a speaker program and dinner at Denver, Colorado in association with the AVMA Convention. 


AVMHS hosts the 36th WAHVM International Congress at Minneapolis

The Society hosted the 36th International Congress of the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine (WAHVM) held at Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 15-17, 2005.


Registry of Heritage Veterinary Practices established

A Registry of Heritage Veterinary Practices was established at the suggestion of AVMHS President Dr. Gary Vroegindewey following the Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C. in 2006. It recognizes and honors veterinary practices in the United States and Canada that have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years of service to their communities.


First regional veterinary history meeting held in Kansas

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


"Time-Bites" history mini-stories began publication

Initiated by Dr. Phyllis H. Larsen in 2009,  AVMHS members began composing a series of mini-stories related to various aspects of the history of veterinary medicine. Called "Time-Bites," these short essays have been published on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN) for the benefit of practicing veterinarians and veterinary students. 


Essay contest prize funding by Donaldson Charitable Trust honors Dr. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence

Prizes awarded to veterinary students for winning essays began being provided by the Donaldson Charitable Trust in honor of Dr. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence in 2012.


Smithcors Symposium on Veterinary History convened in Chicago

In association with the 150th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a one-day 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 speaker 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 AVMA Continuing Education Program for which attendees received CE credit. Arrangements for this "first" were organized by AVMHS President Boris Brglez.


Interim News & Comment continued as newsletter

After September, 2016, a news column ceased being included in Veterinary Heritage and has continued as a separate periodic newsletter produced about 3-4 times per year.


Bylaws reviewed and updated

After a comprehensive review, revised and updated  AVMHS Bylaws were approved as of the June 30, 2021 annual meeting.


Guideposts for Veterinary Professionals book published

A 256-page book titled, Guideposts for Veterinary Professionals, was published in May 2021. It includes about 30 chapters written by leading veterinarians offering inspiration and advice for new veterinary graduates beginning their careers. 

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