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The Society’s early advocacy efforts

The Wisconsin Medical Society, even in its earliest years of existence, has not been shy about engaging the state legislature.

In 1855, the Society appointed a committee of three members, who looked at the propriety of enacting a law legalizing dissections for the study of anatomical and surgical sciences. Their efforts were soon set aside, however, when the Civil War started in April 1861.

After a six-year hiatus, the Society jumped back into the political lobbying arena, and at its 1868 annual meeting, revisited the topic of legalizing human dissections. A new committee was formed, and on Feb. 29, 1868, the state passed “An Act to legalize dissections.” According to the Act, surgeons gained custody of the bodies from the public officer if no relative or friend claimed the deceased within 48 hours of death, and the cadavers were used “only for the advancement and promotion of anatomical science within this State.”

During those early years, it’s also interesting to note the close connection between the Society and the state legislature. In fact, in 1875 the Society actually held its annual meeting in the Assembly Chamber of the Capitol.

Test your knowledge!
There were no correct answers submitted to last week’s trivia question: What was the Board of Directors known as before its name was changed officially in 1981? The answer: The “Council,” and members were known as Councilors.

This week’s question: Who was the Society’s first—and only—physician chief executive officer?

E-mail the answer to Jennifer Wieman by noon, Wednesday, Feb. 17, for a chance to win.

Good luck!

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