His Eminence Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archdiocese of Chicago, who gave the invocation at the convocation, in procession with dignitaries, 1949 Clinical Congress in Chicago
(Photo credti: Oscar and Associates, Inc.)
The first convocation of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) was held in Chicago on November 13, 1913. The Fellowship Address was delivered by Sir Rickman J. Godlee, FRCS, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons was conferred upon 1,059 Initiates that first year. The first Honorary Fellowship in College of Surgeons was conferred on Sir Godlee by ACS President J.M.T. Finney, MD, FACS. The academic gown adopted by the first Board of Regents to be worn by the Fellows at the Convocations consists of a body of a navy blue mohair faced with scarlet velvet. The mortar-board cap is of the same blue material, with a scarlet tassel. Today the Convocation remains as one of the highlights of the College's annual Clinical Congress and many similarities to the first Convocation remain: Initiates become Fellows of the College; prominent surgeons from around the world are conferred as Honorary Fellows in the College; and a Presidential address is now delivered by the incoming College President.
For more information about the early convocations, the history of the development of the pageantry, regalia and symbolism associated with them, and earliest programs and photos, contact the ACS Archivist.