The dissemination of medical knowledge has been an essential goal of the American College of Physicians since its founding in 1915. Throughout the years this value has been actualized most directly by the publication of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which was founded on July 1, 1927. Although this was the College's second medical journal, it was the first to be directly published and managed by ACP. The journal was printed by the Ann Arbor Press, which was conveniently located near the home of Annals' first Editor, Dr. Aldred Scott Warthin. The initial circulation of volume one of Annals of Internal Medicine was 1,903 copies per month. The financial and business aspects of the journal were managed by ACP Executive Secretary, Edward Loveland. By 1931, circulation had risen to 3,093; and by 1940 circulation it had reached 5,022 copies per month. Even throughout the Great Depression circulation steadily increased each year. As the number of subscribers grew so did the size of each issue.
One of the primary focuses of the journal was to publish the most "noteworthy" lectures and papers presented at the College's Annual Session. During its early years, the Editor of Annals often had to solicit contributions to fill each issue. Eventually as the journal became more established and respected the situation was reversed; and the percentage of editorial rejections greatly increased. In 1928 the College's Board of Regents (BOR) passed a resolution that "advertisement of articles or preparations" that had not been previously approved by the Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the American Medical Association could not be published in Annals. Initially, Annals was a financial liability for the College, but by the late 1930s the increased revenue from advertising enabled the journal to produce a surplus.
In May 1931, Aldred Scott Warthin died, and was replaced by Dr. Carl V. Weller, the Chairman of Pathology at the University of Michigan, who served as Interim Editor until January 1933. He was replaced by Maurice C. Pincoffs, Professor of Medicine and Head of the Department of Medicine of the Medical School of the University of Maryland. As a result of the new Editor of Annals no longer living near Ann Arbor, the College switched printers and selected the Lancaster Press, located in Lancaster, PA.
Under the editorship of Dr. Pincoffs, the Annals of Internal Medicine began to publish more original clinical studies. This greatly reduced the prominence of papers from Annual Session. These changes resulted initially from developments in medical science happening in the 1930s, but later on were also influenced by the experience of military doctors during the Second World War. In 1936 the BOR approved the creation of the position of Assistant Editor. This was both a response to the increasing size of the journal, along with the rising editorial work involved with each issue. Paul Clough, Associate Professor of Medicine in the University of Maryland, was selected for this position.
In 1937, Dr. Pincoffs approached the BOR's Annals Committee to discuss a situation that led to a new policy. The Editor had been inundated with requests from various organizations to publish special issues in honor of various outstanding medical scholars, which is known in academic circles as a Festschrift. Dr. Pincoff believed that serving as a medium for the publication of such materials would be "inappropriate" for Annals. The Committee developed a policy that Annals would not organize or sponsor a Festschrift, but allowed the Editor discretion in publishing suitable material taken from such volumes. In taking this course of action, the Annals of Internal Medicine became the first American medical journal to adopt such a policy.
-Prepared July 2011 by Eric Greenberg, based on materials from the Archives of the American College of Physicians, Morgan, W. G. (1940). The American College of Physicians It's First Quarter Century. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians, Piersol GM. (1962) Gateway of Honor. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians and Annals of Internal Medicine at Age 75: Reflections on the Past 25 Years ANN INTERN MED July 2, 2002 137:34-45