The following paragraphs offer a brief history of the Chapter. A more in-depth history of the Philadelphia Regional Chapter is provided by the Medical Library Association headquarters. According to the minutes of Robert Lentz dated October 29, 1951, the following members of the Medical Library Association met informally for dinner at 5:30 pm to discuss the formation of the Philadelphia Regional Group of the Medical Library Association: Margaret Palmer, Frances Houston, Charlotte Coffman, Ruth Yarger, Elizabeth Bready, Minerva Dunning and Robert Lentz. Those invited but unable to attend were: Lucy Finkel, Elliott Morse, and W.B. McDaniel III, PhD. Robert Lentz was elected Chairman pro tem and Lucy Finkel (later Cooke) was elected Secretary/Treasurer pro tem.
The importance of local regions grew during World War II as there were fuel shortages making transportation a problem. Regional meetings were held instead of one national meeting. As a result the concept of regional chapters evolved, according to Ruth Diamond.*
On November 16, 1951, the first official meeting of the Philadelphia Regional Group was held. Margaret Palmer, Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania Dental School was elected Chairman and Lucy Finkel was elected Secretary/Treasurer. Janet Doe spoke at the meeting.
According to the bylaws the purpose of the organization “is to foster the aims and strengthen the membership of the Medical Library Association by means of meetings and closer professional association within the Philadelphia area.” Dues were set at $1 per year.
From this handful of dedicated people, the Philadelphia Regional Chapter boasted a membership of over 250 in 1995 and claims as National MLA Presidents four members (W.B. McDaniel III,PhD, 1946/47; Robert Lentz, 1960/61; Elliott Morse, 1969/70 and June H.Fulton, 1993/94) and one former member (Jacqueline Bastille, 1992/93). The Philadelphia Regional Chapter continues to further its aims through programs, continuing education courses, and professional and student scholarships and achievement awards.
Joan McKenzie, Archives Committee Chair, wrote an update, “Philadelphia Regional Chapter of MLA — our story continues” in the Fall 2007 issue of the Chronicle (p16).
*Telephone interview with Ms. Barbara Williams, Archives Committee