Robert S. Pressman papers
Held at: Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia [Contact Us]
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Robert S. Pressman (1911-1995) graduated from the Temple University School of Medicine in 1946 and later received a Master of Medical Science degree in Internal Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. Pressman served as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Temple University and as head of the infectious diseases section at the Albert Einstein Medical Center. He was a president of the Philadelphia County Medical Society and of the Pennsylvania Society of Internal Medicine (1968-1969). He also served as president of the medical staff at Albert Einstein Medical Center. Pressman was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians in 1955 and served as its president from 1984 to 1986. He also served on several College committees, including the Committees on Audit, Fellowship, Finance, Major Gifts, and Nominations, and he was also an S. Weir Mitchell Associate and an active supporter of the New Century Fund.
The Robert S. Pressman papers house the records of Robert S. Pressman, mostly regarding his professional role in various medical societies in Philadelphia and his research and writings. This collection, which dates from 1856 to 1996, with bulk dates of 1934 to 1985, consists of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, pamphlets, article reprints, clippings, plaques and certificates, newsletters, minutes, reports, and other records from Pressman’s personal and professional life. This collection showcases the interaction between many of Philadelphia’s medical societies, including the Philadelphia County Medical Society, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, and the College of Physicians. It captures many core issues addressed by these societies, such as the implementation of Pennsylvania Blue Shield, as well as the various other activities they contributed to the medical community. Additionally, it captures Pressman’s interests, both in terms of his professional opinions and research, and his hobbies and accomplishments outside of medicine.
The collection is arranged into four series: “I. Professional work and education, 1933-1994,” “II. Research and writings, 1932-1990,” “III. Correspondence, 1939-1995,” and “IV. Personal, 1856-1996.”
Series “I. Professional work and education” dates from 1933 to 1994, with bulk dates of 1960 to 1986. The records in this series document Pressman’s education at Temple University and his various professional activities throughout his career. This series is arranged into six subseries: “Ia. Temple University,” “Ib. Albert Einstein Medical Center,” “Ic. Philadelphia County Medical Society,” “Id. Pennsylvania Medical Society,” “Ie. Pennsylvania Medical Care Foundation,” and “If. College of Physicians of Philadelphia.”
Subseries “Ia. Temple University” dates from 1933 to 1969, with bulk dates of 1933 to 1937. This subseries consists mainly of records documenting Pressman’s education at Temple University, but also includes some records relating to his teaching there. The bulk of the collection consists of student notebooks from various courses, including Histology, Immunology, Physiology, and Pathology. Additional records include Alumni Association certificates and faculty by-laws. Of particular interest here is Pressman’s diary from his freshman year, which documents his social life and extracurricular activities, and includes some of his poetry. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries “Ib. Albert Einstein Medical Center” dates from 1946 to 1975, with bulk dates of 1960 to 1975. The records of this series document Pressman’s service on the medical staff of the medical center and include minutes and meeting materials from the Board and various councils and committees, Medical Staff newsletters, receipts for drug and equipment orders, materials relating to the Ex-Residents’ Society, and correspondence. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries “Ic. Philadelphia County Medical Society” dates from 1957 to 1983, with bulk dates of 1975 to 1982. The records of this subseries document Pressman’s activities in the Society and include Board of Directors and Executive Committee minutes, press releases, memoranda, correspondence, and reports. The main topics addressed in this subseries include national health insurance, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), and Independent Practice Associations (IPAs). The Pfahler Foundation is documented through fellowship applications, public service announcements, and materials relating to the renovation and dedication of the Pfahler Auditorium. Also included is the Strittmatter Award presented to Pressman in 1984. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries “Id. Pennsylvania Medical Society” dates from 1968 to 1985, with bulk dates of 1974 to 1983. Records here document Pressman’s activities with the Society and includes the charter, constitution, and by-laws; staff directories, bulletins, correspondence, memoranda, reports, press releases; and minutes and meeting materials of the Board of Trustees and Councilors. Significant portions of the records relate to Pennsylvania Blue Shield and an ad hoc committee focused on its implementation, as well as issues regarding Medicaid. Additional records regarding Pennsylvania Blue Shield can be found in Series “III. Correspondence.” This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries “Ie. Pennsylvania Medical Care Foundation” dates from 1973 to 1979. Records of this subseries document Pressman’s work with the Foundation and focus mainly on medical insurance. The majority of the records in this subseries pertain to the Committee to Evaluate Alternative Health Care Financing and Delivery Systems and the HMO-IPA Committee, and include minutes, memoranda, and reports. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries “If. College of Physicians of Philadelphia” dates from 1950 to 1994, with bulk dates of 1965 to 1986. Records here document Pressman’s activities within the College and as a Fellow. This includes committee work on the College Council, the Finance Committee, the Library Committee, and the Committee on the Mutter Museum, among others, with records such as correspondence, memoranda, reports, investment reports, and minutes. Records relating to the Membership Committee include applications, propositions, and nominations for Fellowship. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Series “II. Research and writings” dates from 1932 to 1990, with bulk dates of 1942 to 1980. This series contains manuscripts, article reprints, clippings, pamphlets, receipts, transcripts, correspondence, and notes. The manuscripts authored by Pressman mostly pertain to “bacteremias” post tooth-extraction and various related treatment options. However, many of the manuscripts also discuss the state of health care in Pennsylvania, specifically in regards to the establishment of Pennsylvania Blue Shield and the formation of the Southeastern Health Systems Agency, against which Pressman and many of his colleagues fought. Many of the manuscripts and especially the clippings are in regards to the alleged “anti-doctor” social climate. In addition to Pressman’s writings, there are also materials pertaining to research, including many article reprints, product pamphlets, and receipts for medical supply orders. Related correspondence can also be found here. This series is arranged chronologically.
Series “III. Correspondence” dates from 1939 to 1995, and mostly includes correspondence concerning both personal and professional matters, as well as some other notes and related materials that did not fit into Series I. Much of the correspondence is topically diverse, ranging from professional matters such as patients and staff appointments, to the personal, including work done on Pressman’s car. There are also some materials that link to other series. Correspondence with Pennsylvania Blue Shield connects with related material in Subseries “Id. Pennsylvania Medical Society.” Notes about his research for Cabot relate to medical supply receipts from Cabot in Series II. This series fills some of the gaps in other professional activities and memberships not covered in Series I. This series is arranged chronologically.
Series “IV. Personal” dates from 1856 to 1996, with bulk dates of 1937 to 1985. This series includes correspondence, plaques, certificates, awards, stamp and coin collection books, transcripts, receipts, photographs, and records from Pressman and his wife’s time in the military. Some of the materials detail the annual Pressman family Seder, the Pressman family tree, and some of their other pursuits, such as purchasing the Lakeside Nursing Home and Stonehill Farm, about which there are some clippings. A large portion of this series includes awards and plaques from Pressman’s various memberships and accomplishments, including awards and certificates from the American Society of Internal Medicine, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Military records, such as transcripts of service, mustering-out payment requests, commissary lists, and commission certificates can also be found here. Some of Pressman’s hobbies are also highlighted, with the presence of coin and stamp collecting materials, including a small collection of pennies. This series is arranged chronologically.
This collection particularly evidences some of the issues in health care in Pennsylvania, especially in regards to health insurance and changing medical plans, and how they affected doctors. Pennsylvania Blue Shield, Health Systems Agencies, HMOs, and Medicare are all addressed at length in this collection, specifically through the lens of some of the medical societies of the area. Pressman’s many writings reinforce the urgency and attention given to this issue, often challenging the alleged “anti-doctor” media and health care laws. In addition to this unique perspective, Pressman’s papers also provide a look into his personal life, interests, and family. This collection provides a unique look into the mentality of many doctors in Philadelphia at the time, as well as the activities of various medical societies and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
This collection was minimally processed in 2013-2014, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article "More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections," the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages in 16 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 4 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections or complete any preservation work.
- Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Annalise Berdini and Steven Duckworth
- Finding Aid Date
- 2014 June 24
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.