Miss Eleanor Grimm came to work for American College of Surgeons (ACS) founder Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, in 1913, the year that the College was founded. Dr. Martin was at the time in mid-career as a practicing gynecologist, founder and professor of gynecology of the Policlinic and PostGraduate School of Surgery in Chicago, founder of the College’s journal Surgery Gynecology & Obstetrics (SG&O) and initiator of the Clinical Congresses of Surgeons of North America. Miss Grimm had just completed a three-year course in business administration at the Lewis Institute of Chicago, which is now the Illinois Institute of Technology. Hired after just a short typing demonstration, Miss Grimm would serve as Dr. Martin’s secretary until his death in 1935. She also traveled with him to Washington when he served on the Council of National Defense during World War I and edited his published works.
After Dr. Martin’s death, Miss Grimm continued to work for the American College of Surgeons in a number of important capacities. In 1935, she was appointed secretary to the Board of Regents, Executive Committee, and Administrative Board as well as editor of all publications, including the ACS Bulletin and the ACS Yearbook, a directory of all College members. She became ACS Administrative Executive in 1946. In addition, she was a member of the Central Credentials Committee, which was responsible for recommending action to the Board of Regents concerning decisions on applicants, and attended many state and provincial meetings as well. The idea to conduct regional “War Sessions” to substitute for the annual Clinical Congress during World War II was first proposed by Miss Grimm. She also had a hand in organizing sectional meetings and the medical motion picture program.
Eleanor Grimm retired at the end of 1951 and traveled extensively, visiting many international acquaintances she had made in her years at the College. However, in her first three years of retirement, at the request of the Regents, she compiled her recollections of the College on wire recordings. After being transcribed into typescript, the recordings comprised twenty-six three-ring binders. These documented the earliest stages of the formation of the College, the Annual Clinical Congresses and the College’s official scientific journal Surgery, Gynecology &Obstetrics (now the Journal of the American College of Surgeons), and included tremendous amounts of original source material on all aspects of College history. Many of her memories concerned founding members of the College and interviews with historical figures. Miss Grimm also created a 59-page index for this lengthy work, which resides along with the transcriptions in the ACS archives.
ACS Archives Highlights is a series showcasing the vibrant history of the American College of Surgeons, its members, and the history of surgery. For further information on our featured highlights, search the Archives Catalog or contact the ACS Archivist.