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The Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM) is a historical research center which is part of the non-profit American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (AAFP/F), a non-profit, charitable 501(c)(3) organization located in Leawood, Kansas. The Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM) serves as the primary repository of information and resources on the history and evolution of general practice, family practice, the discipline of family medicine and the family medicine organizations within the United States. Its mission is to document, organize and preserve organizational records, personal papers, books and artifacts in all formats and disseminate information about them in both printed and electronic form. It also serves as an informational link to all other family medicine organizations and to all who are interested in the history of the specialty.[1][2][3]


History & Background

The first move to begin an historical center within the specialty of family medicine came in 1987, when Claudene Clinton, then Director of the Division of Research and Information Services for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), suggested the need for the establishment of a repository within the AAFP to house the growing body of material relating to the founding, growth and development of both the Academy and the specialty of family medicine. At its meeting in February of that year, the Board of Directors of the Academy moved to establish “a task force on the history of the American Academy of Family Physicians to determine the best way to preserve materials and documents related to the growth of the specialty.”[4] A consultant was obtained, and after lengthy study in which detailed space, equipment and budgetary requirements were determined, the Board of Directors approved the establishment of an “AAFP Archives” within the Academy.[5] Following her retirement as Director of the Division of Research and Information Services, Ms. Clinton served as the first Archivist for the Archives (later renamed “The Archives for Family Practice”) on a contract basis with the Academy.

On January 1, 1992, administrative responsibility for the Archives was transferred from the Academy to the AAFP Foundation. Following its transfer to the Foundation, a Board of Curators was created to serve in an advisory capacity to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees on the operations of the Archives.[6] Initially the Board was made up of 7 members (now 15) “who have made significant contributions to family practice; who possess a broad perspective of the discipline; who have a strong interest in its historical development; and who are familiar with all the organizations in the discipline.” In 1998, an endowment was also created for the Center, to help realize the Board of Curator’s vision of a “self-sustaining and self-supporting” entity operating within the Foundation.[7]

By 2003, the Archives for Family Practice had evolved into the principal resource center for the collection, conservation, exhibition and study of materials relating to the history of family medicine. Besides the Academy and the Foundation, other family medicine organizations that contribute by placing their records into its holdings, donating to its endowment and having their members serve on its advisory board include the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM); the Association of Departments of Family Medicine (ADFM); the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors (AFMRD); the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG); and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM).[8] The collections had also evolved, growing into four separate and distinct areas:

  1. a corporate, or organizational archives for the holdings of the seven family medicine organizations;
  2. manuscript collections of prominent family physicians and family medicine educators and staff;
  3. an historical research library containing books written by and about family physicians and reference materials on family medicine; and
  4. a museum collection of medical artifacts relating to the specialty for exhibition.

This rapid expansion of the Archives for Family Practice’s collections, coupled with some confusion generated by its name (which was similar to several medicine journals bearing the title “Archives”), gave rise to the need for a name change for the Archives. Consequently, in November of 2003, the Board of Curators and the AAFP/F Board of Trustees approved a new name for the facility, and on January 1, 2004, the Archives for Family Practice officially became the Center for the History of Family Medicine.[9][10][11]

The Center for the History of Family Medicine is presently the only institution dedicated exclusively to preserving and sharing the history of family medicine in the United States.[12][13] It serves to document all aspects of the profession in all of its spheres, including education, leadership development, advocacy, and in the continuing care of patients from birth to death.[8][14]

Collections, Programs & Exhibits

An interdisciplinary study center consisting of an historical research library, archives and museum center, the CHFM actively documents, collects, organizes, preserves and exhibits organizational records, personal papers, books, artifacts and other materials in all formats relating to the history of general practice, family practice and family medicine in America.[15][16][17][18][19] The Center’s programs include an active acquisitions and oral history program in which personal and professional papers and oral histories are collected from prominent leaders in the specialty, and a traveling exhibit program.[20][21][22] Reference services are also provided.[23][24]


  1. ^ National Library of Medicine, "Directory of History of Medicine Collections”, Retrieved on November 10, 2008.
  2. ^ Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM) Web site, Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  3. ^ Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM) Strategic Plan, Effective January 1, 2007.
  4. ^ Minutes of the AAFP Board of Directors, February 19-22, 1987.
  5. ^ “Proposal for AAFP Archives,” April 1989.
  6. ^ Report of the AAFP/F Library Committee to the Board of Trustees, September 20, 1992.
  7. ^ Minutes of the AAFP Foundation Board of Trustees, October 19, 1997.
  8. ^ a b Center for the History of Family Medicine brochure, 2004.
  9. ^ “Dusting Off the Archives . . . and Other Online Coverage,” FP Report (March 2004), p. 3.
  10. ^ Sheri Porter, “History Secure in Newly Renamed Center” FP Report (online version), Retrieved on November 10, 2008.
  11. ^ AAFP Foundation Bulletin, Spring 2004.
  12. ^ Smith, Crystal, comp. Directory of History of Medicine Collections, 16th ed. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, 2008.
  13. ^ Case Western Reserve University, Dittrick Medical History Center, “Medical Museums, Archives and Libraries in the United States.”, Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  14. ^ American Academy of Family Physicians,“Family Medicine, Scope and Philosophical Statement”, Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  15. ^ Ramsey Campbell, “Old Medical Tools: Reason Enough to Thank Doctors for Ending House Calls,” Orlando Sentinel, 25 February 1996, J-2, J-7.
  16. ^ Nancy D. Barnes, CAGS, MA and Angela D. Curran, MHA, “A General Practitioner in Turn- of-the-Century Kansas: W.A. Carr, M.D. (1877-1975)” Kansas Medicine 96 (Winter 1995): 164-166, 168.
  17. ^ “CHFM Obtains Dr. Jack Medalie Collection,” The Watermark XXXI (Fall 2008), pp. 124-125.
  18. ^ Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM) Web site, Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  19. ^ Royal College of General Practitioners, “RCGP Archives: Tracing Your Medical Ancestors” (under the heading “America . . General Practitions of Family Physicians”), Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  20. ^ National Library of Medicine, “Guide to Oral Histories in Medicine and the Health Sciences”, Retrieved on November 10, 2008.
  21. ^ “Collections, Exhibits, and Access: Ten-Year Strategic Plan Approved for History Center,” The Watermark XXX (Spring 2007), pp. 37-38.
  22. ^ American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM), February 2008 Newsletter, pp. 15-16.
  23. ^ Smith, Directory of History of Medicine Collections, 16th ed., pp. 61-62.
  24. ^ National Library of Medicine, “Directory of History of Medicine Collections”, Retrieved on November 10, 2008. See also John R. Stanard, Caring for America: The Story of Family Practice. Virginia Beach, VA: Donning Company, 1997, pp. 10, 119, 120, and Michael Joe Dupont, Fifty Years of Family Medicine in New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: New Mexico AFP, 2007.

External links



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