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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Association could not be published in Annals.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