The History of WSHOMS
In February 1999 Dr Brian Owen-Smith DHMSA, Dr Michael Nicholls, Dr Barbara Ely DHMSA and Mrs Hilary Morris DHMSA met to discuss forming a local to West Sussex, history of medicine society. The aim was to provide a focus for participants to use local sources and to research local projects.
In addition it would encourage members of this society to attend the Society of Apothecaries of London course in the history of medicine, and this personal research would be excellent preparation for their dissertation required for the Diploma examination. Outside speakers would also be included.
The structure of five alternate Saturday morning sessions each autumn was agreed upon. This has been the core of WSHOMS’s activities and attendance has increased annually. The first meeting took place on 9th October 1999.
There have been occasional additional outside visits, to the Army Medical Services Museum at Aldershot twice, and to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, and joint meetings with the Royal Society of Medicine’s History of Medicine Section at Arundel Castle, and with The Haslemere Natural History Educational Museum in Haslemere.
From the beginning it was decided that there should few if any administration costs, so that there are no subscriptions which would make the secretary busy, and may put off potential members. It is a “pay as you go” society: members only pay to attend a meeting that they want to attend. (St Richard’s Hospital Staff and students are not charged for attending.) There over 200 members on the mailing list and the programmes are distributed electronically to keep down costs.
Many of the lecturers have a national or international reputation and up to 40% of them may be members of the Society. The first showing ever of a film taken through the original Leuwenhoek microscope was a notable event.
WSHOMS tries to encourage medical students and school leavers to learn about the development of their future profession which is why they can attend free of charge. Members of local science and history societies, and other interested people are encouraged to attend.