Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Volume 1 (1972).


Copyright 1972 by the author(s).



Recently 1 have had an opportunity to examine the programs, reports and records of the Section on the History and Philosophy of Science of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences. So far no historical report on this Section has appeared, although mention should be made of the excellent "Capsule History of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences" prepared by Dr. Raymond J. Pool and distributed to the membership of the Academy at the annual banquet held on April 22, 1955. Accordingly, 1 has assembled a number of facts concerning the origin, growth, and development of the Section.

The History of Science Section was organized in 1932, 41 years after the founding of the parent body, the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, under the Chairmanship of the late Charles M. Wilhelmj, M.D., Professor of Physiology at the School of Medicine of Creighton University. He taught a course in the history of medicine to medical students and also organized the Caducean Society for the study of medical history. Later, from 1939 to 1948, he was Dean of the School of Medicine of Creighton University. The Caducean Society played an important role in the early years of the Section, but became dormant during World War II; it has remained so since then.

The first meeting of the "History of Science Section" - changed to "History and Philosophy of Science" in 1945 - was held at the 1932 annual meeting of the Academy at the Hotel Fontenelle in Omaha. This was a joint meeting with the Caducean Society, which also co-sponsored the four meetings of the Section which followed. The Section was, for the first six years, almost exclusively a venture of the School of Medicine of Creighton University, and all but one of the 51 papers presented during this period were submitted by representatives of this school, despite the fact that five of the meetings were held at locations other than Omaha. The 'outsider' was Dr. T. 1. Fitzpatrick, Professor of Botany at the University of Nebraska. During this early period Dr. Wilhelmj was chairman for the first three, Dr. Nicholas Dietz, Jr., for the fourth and Dr. Victor E. Levine for the fifth and sixth meetings. Each of the latter two was a biochemist on the faculty of Creighton University School of Medicine.