News & Papers Sessions

Society Announces Its New Executive Director

Jim Dolbow to Take Society Reins on 25 April

Jim  Dolbow is a veteran congressional defense staffer who has worked on the staffs of several members of Congress. Jim declares a long time love of Naval history, and he has deep contacts within the Naval history establishment in Washington DC. A Coast Guard reservist, Jim was called to active duty to serve on the staff of Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen during that agency’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Jim’s undergraduate degree in Political Science (Marymount College in Arlington VA), and Masters degrees in National Security and Strategic Studies (U S Naval War College) and Statecraft and World Politics (Institute of World Politics). Jim comes to the Society with strong ideas on developing synergies between the Society and the Naval Historic Foundation, the Naval History and Heritage Command, and similar organizations. Jim has special expertise in the social media, so look to the Society to take the lead in this area of endeavor, which is particularly important in attracting younger generations of scholars and supporting members. Welcome, Mr Dolbow!

Future of the Society In Doubt

Executive Director Tom Snyder, MD, to Step Down in April 2013; No Successor Has Stepped Forward

At the April 2012 annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for the History of Navy Medicine, Society Founding Executive Director Tom Snyder announced his intention to step down from this post on 25 April 2013. He will have served the Society and its members for 6 years.

Since making that announcement, Snyder has instituted a search for his replacement. The volunteer job takes up, on average, about 4 – 6 hours per month. The busiest period is the spring, when member dues-donations must be received, logged and deposited; arrangements made for the Society’s Annual Meeting and Papers Session – including soliciting papers, routing them to a Review Panel, and announcing paper selections; making arrangements with host institutions for the actual meeting; and announcing and distributing Graduate Student Travel Grants and the annual History of Navy Medicine Research Grant.

Snyder notes that this job presents terrific psychic rewards: – in contacts with the nearly 170 Society members – scholars and academics, service health professionals and lay people; in fielding inquiries from history searchers; in arranging the annual meetings and encouraging young scholars to explore our narrow little corner of history.

Should the Society not find a new Executive Director, it will go out of business. Pro-rata shares of their donations  then will be returned to Life Members. Any money left in the treasury will be donated to the Naval Historical Foundation. The Society blog, “Of Ships and Surgeons” will also likely be shut down.

Any person interested in taking on this pleasant task should contact Snyder at

Society Releases Call for Papers for Naval Academy History Symposium

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine issues its call for papers for the September 2013 U S Naval Academy McMullen History Symposium

Two years ago, the Society mounted two very successful panels in the history of naval medicine – itself an historical event. Expecting to build on this early success, the Society seeks paper proposals on any aspect of the history of navy or maritime medicine. Graduate and professional students are especially encouraged to submit because the Society offers $750 travel grants to these authors if their papers are accepted for impanelment; but we invite and encourage submissions from academics at all levels and lay authors as well.

We request electronic submission of a 500 – 1000 word proposal and a brief bio. Send these to Society Executive Director Captain Tom Snyder at Our submission deadline is 5 January.

Papers will be reviewed by our Papers Selection Board*. Accepted papers will be arranged into panels which are then submitted to naval Academy Symposium organizers; their deadline is 5 February 2013. We will announce our panels by 31 January 2013. The Naval Academy announces successful panel submissions typically by early summer. Contact Captain Snyder for any further information:

*Papers Selection Board members are Professor Emeritus Harry Langley, Catholic University of America; Jan Herman, former Historian of the (U S ) Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; we will announce a third Board member in the near future.

Posted 13 August 2013

Society Announces Winner of the 2012 Research Grant

Justin Barr, a Yale PhD candidate, is the winner of the historic first Society Research Grant. Mr Barr’s PhD thesis is “Blood and Snow: How the Korean War Created Vascular Surgery”.

Justin Barr (l) Receives Society’s First History of Medicine Research Grant from Member Mike Rhode (Image: Amber Coughenour, BuMed Historical Office Intern)

The grant will help underwrite costs of Mr Barr’s research at the National Archives. Society member and Navy Bureau of Medicine and Medicine (“BuMed”) Archivist made the check presentation recently.

The Society is proud that its members, through their voluntary $20 annual dues-donations, underwrite this kind of work.

Society Executive Director Tom Snyder Announces His Intent to Resign,

Effective No Later Than 1 May 2013

Founding Executive Director of the Society for the History of Navy Medicine told the Foundation Board at its April meeting that, after 6 years in charge, “It’s time for me to step aside so that a person with new energy and new ideas can take the helm.”

Captain Tom Snyder, Medical Corps, U S Navy, Retired, served in active and reserve duty for more than 24 years, all the while carrying a busy urology practice and an active administrative role with the Kaiser-Permanente health care program in northern California. Upon retiring from both careers, he decided to combine his naval and medical interests in researching to write the history of the Naval Hospital at Mare Island, California – the navy’s first on the west coast – across the quarter-mile wide Napa River from his Vallejo, California home. The Hospital closed in 1957, and the Mare Island Navy Yard closed in 1997.

Snyder’s frequent research trips to DC brought him into frequent conversations with André Sobocinski, historian at the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. These conversations led to the Society’s founding in 2006. Two years later, Snyder established the Foundation for the History of Navy Medicine, a 501(3)(c) public benefit charity. Utilizing tax deductible $20 annual Society dues-donations and $250 Life Memberships, the Foundation sponsors travel grants for graduate students presenting papers in Society panels. Last year, the Society announced a new, annual research grant program to support work in the area of the history of maritime medicine. Since its founding, the Society has grown to nearly 170 members from around the world. It sponsors academic panels, in rotation, at annual meetings of the American Association for the History of Medicine (of which it is a Constituent Society), the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, the biennial Naval Academy History Symposiums, and the Society for Military History.

“While Society work has been immensely gratifying,” Snyder said, “it has taken me away from my own historical work. Completing the Mare Island hospital story is number one on my bucket list.” A search for a new Executive Director, a non-paid (Snyder: “The rewards are psychic, and huge!”) position, is under way.

Society Regretfully Announces the Cancellation of its Panel at the American Association for the History of Medicine meeting in April.

An illness and an unavoidable schedule conflict encountered by two of our panelists force the withdrawal of our Panel on Navy Medicine in Vietnam. 1 March 2012.

Society Announces Its Graduate and Medical Professional Student Research Grant  

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine Graduate and Medical Professional Student Research Grant 

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine announces a new annual grant of up to $1500 for research in the history of naval or maritime medicine. The grant is intended to support work being done by a student enrolled in a program leading to a degree above the baccalaureate level in history, medical history or the medical professions.

The grant may be used for travel to a research site; photocopying, photography or microfilming; borrowing or access fees; and similar research-related expenses. Society membership is encouraged but is not required.

Applications, consisting of a 1250 – 1750 word project description and a project budget, should be submitted electronically, no later than 15 April, to the Society Executive Director at All submissions, marked with an identifying number only, will be reviewed by a panel of eminent historians. The winning submission will be announced by 1 July.

–17 January 2012


Society to Mount a Luncheon Panel at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine on Friday 27 April

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine Announces its Sixth Annual Meeting and Papers Session in Baltimore During AAHM 26 – 29 April Gathering

Society Executive Director Tom Snyder recently received word from AAHM program chair Jole Shackleford that a luncheon panel time will be the venue for our 2012 Papers Session. The date: Friday, 27 April 2012. The location is yet to be determined. Themed “Navy Medicine in Vietnam”, our Session will feature speakers Bob Bramson, MD: Melioidosis in Vietnam Veterans; Jim Finnegan, MD: Combat Surgical Care in Khe Sanh; Jan Herman, MA (Historian, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, U S Navy): Oral Histories of Navy Medicine in Vietnam. The Society will hold its Annual Meeting in conjunction with the panel. Details to be announced. Updated 17 December 2012


Our Foundation Makes Grant to Navy Historical Foundation

$500 Gift to Assist the Navy Group Acquire Civil War Surgeon’s Ship Journal

The Naval Historical Foundation recently acquired the shipboard journal of Acting Assistant Surgeon Ezra Pay, during his service aboard U S Bark Fernandina in 1862. The NHF are currently scanning the document, after which, they will donate it to the Collection of the Historical Office, U S Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

The Foundation and Society for the History of Navy Medicine are very proud to “play a role in preserving, commemorating and educating the American public about our proud naval history”.

©2011, 2012 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine  Updated 02 July 2012

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