Naval Academy Announces a “Hybrid” McMullen Naval History Symposium for 2021

The Naval Academy History Department’s biennial McMullen Naval History Symposium is reputedly the largest and most influential event of its kind in the US, if not in the world. This year, confronted by the vagaries and realities of the COVID-19 / Delta variant pandemic, Symposium organizers Doctor Virginia Lunsford, Associate Professor, and CDR Stan Fisher, PhD, Assistant Professor, will mount a hybrid Symposium on Thursday and Friday, 23 and 24 September 2021. That is, attendees and presenters can attend either in-person, or remotely.

The Society’s 3-paper panel is scheduled for the late afternoon session on Friday the 24th. All presenters will be remote, but the panel Chair, RADM Fred Sanford, MC, USN (Ret) hopes to be our in-person presence.

Symposium registration is free, here on the McMullen webpage. Just scroll down and follow the prompts. Be sure to peruse the wide range of panels available, unfortunately not all at one time! It promises to be an amazing event.

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Society Announces 2021 McMullen Symposium Panel

The Society is pleased to announce that it will mount a 3-paper panel at the 2021 McMullen Naval History Symposium, to be held 23 – 24 September. Symposium organizers await the Naval Academy Superintendent’s decision as to whether the Symposium will be virtual, or held in-person, in Annapolis, Maryland.

The papers and their authors are:

The Historical Toll of Scurvy and the Impediments to Implementation of a Cure in Affecting British Royal Naval Operations Through the Nineteenth Century, by
Gerald Stulc, MD, FACS, FICS, MFA, Captain, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy, Retired

Early Innovations in Maritime Telemedical Services: The Seamen’s Church Institute of New York’s KDKF Radio Medico Station, by Johnathan Thayer, PhD, MLS, and Stefan Dreisbach-Williams

Slave Ship Surgeons – An Unrecognized Factor in the Abolition of Slavery, by Irving Rosen, MD, FRCS(C)

Symposium details to follow as they emerge.

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CfP: The Society for the History of Navy Medicine / McMullen Naval History Symposium, 23-24 September 2021

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine invites proposals for papers to be presented at the 2021 McMullen Naval History Symposium on any topics related to maritime medicine. Proposals should include a one page vita and an abstract of no more than 250 words which summarizes the research and its contribution to historical knowledge, collated in a single Microsoft Word file. A Paper Selection Board will select three or four papers for presentation at the Society’s panel at the McMullen, which may be a virtual event. Proposal deadline: 01 February 2021. Email proposals to by midnight. In the event of a physical symposium in Annapolis, the Society will provide travel grants of up to $850 for graduate students whose papers are accepted for presentation. The USNA History Department will announce the conference format by May 2021 and will promulgate a draft program by mid-June.

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Pioneer, Society Supporter, Harold D Langley – Vixit

We are sad to note that historian Harold D Langley, an early instigator of the notion of a society to support scholarly work in the history of maritime medicine and a mentor, Board member, and the namesake of our Harold D Langley Book Prize for Excellence in the History of Maritime Medicine, has passed away at age 95.

Here is his obituary. It details a rich and accomplished life:



Harold D. Langley, diplomatic and naval historian who was Associate Curator of naval history at the Smithsonian Institution from 1969 to 1996, died on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 after an extended illness. He was 95. As a naval historian, he was a pioneer in exploring American naval social and medical history. Born Harold David Langley, the son of Walter B. Langley and Anna Mae McCaffrey and the fourth of six children, he grew up in Amsterdam, NY. Upon his graduation from high school, he was drafted into the Army of the United States and served from 1943 to 1946, receiving, along with his unit, the Army Meritorious Service Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. After his military service, he attended the Catholic University of America (CUA), where he earned his B.A. in 1950. He then earned his M.A. in 1951, and his Ph.D. in 1960, from the University of Pennsylvania, the latter with a dissertation which became his first published book, Social Reform in the United States Navy, 1798-1862. He began his professional career at the Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division, in Washington, DC in 1951. After working as a manuscript specialist in Washington and Pennsylvania, in 1955, Marywood College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, appointed him Assistant Professor of history. He was next appointed as a Diplomatic Historian in the U.S. Department of State in 1957. In 1964, CUA appointed him Associate Professor, and in 1968 promoted him to Professor, which he held until 1971. In 1969, the Smithsonian appointed him Associate Curator of Naval History. While holding that position, he was also an Adjunct Professor at CUA beginning in 1971. In 1965, he married Patricia Ann Piccola. The couple settled in Arlington, VA and had two children. In 1996, he retired from the Smithsonian, and continued teaching at CUA until 2001. After he retired from teaching, he remained active in the history field, writing articles for historical journals, reviewing books, and working on a book. He also traveled regularly to history conferences in the United States, contributing presentations and helping with others. In 2017, he was diagnosed with dementia and curtailed his travels to conferences. Despite the challenges this condition presented, he continued writing articles and book reviews for historical publications. As his condition progressed, he moved to an assisted living facility in Alexandria, VA in late 2019, where he lived for the remainder of his life. He is survived by his sister, Dorothy Sweeney, of Albany, NY; his brother, Roger Langley, of Rockville, MD; his son, David Langley, of Alexandria, VA; his daughter, Erika Langley, of Bremerton, WA; and many nieces, nephews and cousins, along with their families. His wife, Patricia, predeceased him in 2013. The family will receive friends and relatives at a viewing at Advent Funeral and Cremation Services, 7211 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA 22116 on August 6, 2020 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 1910 N. Randolph St., Arlington, VA 22207 on August 7, 2020 at 10:30 a.m., followed by the interment ceremony at Quantico National Cemetery, 18424 Joplin Rd., Triangle, VA 22172, at 1 p.m. More information about Harold D. Langley’s life and accomplishments can be found online at
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The Society at the McMullen – A Report

The 2019 McMullen Naval History Symposium, sponsored by the Department of History at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, is now done, and the Society had a very successful presence there.
First, on Friday morning, we mounted our 7th scholarly panel (and our second at the McMullen). It was well attended and very well received. Here are the players and their roles:
(l to r): Andrew Bobb, CDR, MSC, USN and USNA Faculty – “Dynamics of Early 20th Century Measles Outbreaks at USNA”; Manikarnika Dutta, D. Phil. Candidate, University of Oxford – “‘Those Wretched Souls…’ – Health and Morale of European and American Seamen in Nineteenth Century British India”Costanza Bonelli, Phd Candidate, University of Rome (La Sapienza) – “Climate, Disease, and Colonialism: The Massawa Port in the Italian Studies of Tropical Medicine”Gerald Stulc, CAPT, MC, USN (Ret.) – “Pride and Prejudice: Reforms and the Rise in Status of British Naval Surgeons During the French Republican and Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815)”; Professor Annette Finley-Croswhite, Old Dominion University, former Executive Director of the Society – Commentator; yours truly, the present Society Executive Director; RADM Fred Sanford, MC, USN (Ret.) – Session Chair. The Society awarded both Ms Dutta and Ms Bonelli its Graduate Student Travel Grant of up to $850.
On Friday evening, the Naval Historical Foundation mounted its traditional Commodore Dudley Knox Awards Banquet. The Society was on the agenda there, too, to award our prestigious Harold D Langley Book Prize for Excellence in the History of Maritime Medicine to Thomas Helling, MD, Chief of Surgery, University of Mississippi, for his 2017 book. “Desperate Surgery in the Pacific War – Doctors and Damage Control for American Wounded, 1941-1945.” The Book Prize consists of the Certificate of Award you see here, plus a check for $500. 
Thomas Helling, MD (r) Receives the 2019 Harold D Langley Book Prize for Excellence in the History of Maritime Medicine from Society Executive Director Thomas L Snyder, MC, USN (Ret.).
The Society has now established a record of collaboration with the USNA, and we plan to mount a panel or panels with each successive biennial McMullen Symposium (the next one will be in 2021). 
I am also pleased to tell you that RADM Edward “Sonny” Masso, USN (Ret.), Executive Director of the Foundation said to me (quite pointedly I should add), “This is just the beginning. We want you back every time.” 
I think it’s fair to say that we have earned a rightful place for maritime medicine in the American naval historical firmament.
©2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine
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Society Announces the 2019 Harry D Langley Book Prize Winner

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine takes great pleasure in announcing that the 2019 Harold D Langley Book Prize for Excellence in the History of Maritime Medicine will be awarded to Thomas Helling, MD for his book, Desperate Surgery in the Pacific War: Doctors and Damage Control for American Wounded, 1941-1945, McFarland, 2017.

Professor Barry Gough, president of our Book Selection Committee describes the work thus:

A work of extensive scholarship and lucid prose, this is history on a grand and

descriptive scale. The account is told with commitment to recreate the past,

weaving the history of war, afloat and ashore, through various circumstances

of the Pacific war – jungles, atolls and islands. Caring for the wounded posed

serious challenges on the frontline, and the stabilizing of patients until they

could be evacuated prevented many deaths. This account of the efforts and

innovations of medical personnel forms an important chapter of the logistics

of waging war in a distant war zone.

Dr Helling is Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of General Surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS.

Sincere thanks to Professor Gough (retired, of Wilfrid Laurier University) and his book prize selection committee colleagues (and Society members) Andre’ Sobocinski (historian at the Navy Bureau Of Medicine and Surgery) and Bob Bramson, MD (retired director of pediatric radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and retired associate professor at Harvard Medical School).

Harold D Langley, in honor of whom the award is named, is an emeritus professor of history (Catholic University Of America) and retired curator of naval history at the Smithsonian Institution. He is a founding member of the Society and a revered mentor. His book, A History of Medicine in the Early U.S. Navy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), is a pioneering work in our field of interest.

(C)2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine

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Memorial Day Reflection


As you enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, please take time to remember someone you know who gave his or her life in service to our country. 
Search as I might, I couldn’t find any data on medical personnel who’ve died in war time. But we know many have. Those who care also die.
On Monday, I’ll have the honor of giving my city’s Memorial Day speech. Here’s my peroration:

In conclusion, I ask you – no, I task you:
–every day, to try to memorialize – perhaps by putting on a special pin or necklace, or by saying, out loud, the name or names of someone who died in our nation’s service – our nation’s fallen ones.
–when you do that, give a thought to those who still suffer the ravages of war time experience, and seek advice – the VFW would be a good source – about how you can support their care. Be sure our legislators know that you favor generous medical and psychological benefits for veterans, especially including the homeless and addicted men and women who’ve served.
–finally, hold in your thoughts those who now face danger on our behalf.

Let us be thankful, every day, that we live in this great country, and, let us be especially thankful for the people who defended her then and defend her now. Let us remember them – and thereby preserve them from falling completely out of memory.

(c)2019 Thomas L Snyder

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Announcing the Papers Accepted for Presentation at the Society’s McMullen Symposium Panel

The Society is proud to announce these papers have been selected for our panel on the history of maritime medicine at the Naval Academy McMullen Naval History Symposium at Annapolis, 19 – 20 September 2019.

The name of the Session is The Health of Sailors.


“Those Wretched souls…” – The Health and Morale of European and American Seamen in Nineteenth Century British India, by Manikarnika Dutta, PhD Candidate, Welcome Unit in the History of Medicine, University of Oxford

Climate, disease and colonialism: the Massaua port in the Italian studies of tropical medicine (end of XIX Century – mid-XX Century, by Costanza Bonelli, PhD Candidate, University of Rome La Sapienza

Pride and Prejudice: Reforms, and the Rise in Status of British Naval Surgeons During the French Republican and Napoleonic Wars (1793 – 1815), by Gerald Stulc, MD, FACS (ret), CAPT, MC, USNR (RET)

Dynamics of Early 20th Century Measles Outbreaks at the U.S. Naval Academy, by Andrew Bobb, PhD, LCDR, MSC, USN; Mitchell Winkie, MIDN 1/c, USNA; Virginia F Smith, PhD, Department of Chemistry, USNA

Congratulations to the scholars!

The President of our panel will be RADM Frederick Sanford, MC, USN (RET).

Our Commentator will be Annette Finley-Croswhite, PhD, University Professor and Professor of History, Old Dominion University.

Sincere thanks to our Papers Selection Board: Dale C Smith, PhD, Professor of Military Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, President; Paul Berman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Emeritus), University of Massachusetts School of Medicine; Mark F Leep, MA, JD, MBA, Office of Research, Boncours Health Systems, Virginia.

©2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine

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A Letter to Our Members and Friends: Society News

I sent the letter below to Society members today:

Dear Members and Friends of the Society,
Some time ago, I told you I would send out the current Treasurer’s Report so that you can see how efficiently your Society is run, and as a reminder that we are always appreciative of our members’ dues-donation support. I’m pleased to attach the report for fiscal year 2018, just given to the Foundation Board of Directors today. [Editor’s note: I cannot attach the report to this post. If you want to see it, contact me at]
Two of our Board members resigned today. Captain Joel Labow, MC, USN (Ret) has served on the Board for several years. He resigns because of health issues. We appreciate his years of service and guidance. Captain Kenneth Hagan, USN (Ret) has been on the Board for two years. He resigned for logistical reasons. We appreciate his service and guidance as well. We are now looking for volunteers to serve on our Board. This is reasonably light work, requiring perhaps 3 or 4 hours of concentrated mental work per year, relating to our annual Board meetings. Contact me by reply, with your CV, if you are interested.
I’m pleased to announce that the Board elected Robert T Bramson, MD Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Dr Bramson was chief of Pediatric Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, then executive VP of the radiology department at Boston Childrens Hospital. He retired as associate professor from Harvard.
Finally, our Book Prize and Papers Selection Boards are hard at work selecting the next winner of Harry J Langley Book Prize and the best papers for our panel at the McMullen Naval History Symposium at Annapolis in September. Announcements of winners are due at the end of April.
Thank you for your continued interest in and support of the Society.
©2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine
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Announcing the Society’s McMullen Symposium Papers Selection Board

The Society is pleased to announce the following members have volunteered to serve in selecting the best papers for presentation at the 2019 McMullen Naval History Symposium. They are:

Dale Smith, PhD. (President of the Board). Dr. Smith is Professor of Military Medicine and History at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and Chair of that University’s Military and Emergency Medicine Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure. He is an award winning writer in medical history. His areas of interest are the history of medical education, the history of infectious diseases, the history of surgery, and the problems of patient evacuation in military operations.

Paul Berman, MD. Dr Berman is a retired Internist and a medical historian, with concentration on 19th century American medicine. He is a member of the American Association for the History of Medicine and the American Osler Society.

Mark F Leep, J.D. Mr Leep, a former Marine Corps captain, has a 25 year career in human subjects research protections and other research enterprise regulatory and operational functions as an attorney for industry drug and device sponsors, clinical research organizations, physician researchers, and academic and community health care institutions, and as an Institutional Review Board member and vice chair, consultant, and human research protections operations leader.

Under Dr Smith’s guidance, the Board will select the best of the papers submitted for presentation at the Society’s panel at the McMullen Naval History Symposium in Annapolis in September. The Board plans to announce its selections no later that 15 April.

©2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine


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