Our History

A Brief History of the Department of Pediatrics

Janelle McDaniel, EdD
From "Georgia Health Sciences University Histories of the Medical College of Georgia Departments for the Celebration of the 160th Anniversary"

The 19th Century

The care of children was not considered as a separate specialty until around the turn of the twentieth century at the Georgia Health Sciences University (now Augusta University). Education in the field was under a professorship of Diseases of Women and Infants, with Dr. Milton Antony serving as its Professor from 1828-1839. Dr. Antony was among several physicians who organized a society in 1822 and applied to the General Assembly for a charter that was granted on November 7, 1822 establishing the Medical Society of Augusta. His efforts also resulted in the establishment of the State Board of Medical Examiners in 1825.

By 1826, Dr. Antony and his pupil, Joseph Adams Eve, had started instruction at the City Hospital, which was built in 1818 and housed the medical college until 1835. Again, Dr. Antony was very instrumental in his efforts to obtain a charter to establish a medical college. Thus, the first Medical College of Georgia in Georgia, named The Medical Academy of Georgia, granting a Bachelor of Medicine degree, became a reality. The trustees sought authorization to offer a second year of training in preparation for the MD degree. This was granted in 1829, and the name was changed to the Medical Institute of Georgia. In April of 1833, the Institute publicly granted its first four MD degrees.

Encouraged by this progress, the school's name was changed in 1833 to the Georgia Health Sciences University. Dr. Antony died 1839 as a result of yellow fever; the words on his tombstone "He Built a Lasting Monument" clearly reflect his efforts. Upon Dr. Antony's death, Joseph Adams Eve became the Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Infants from 1839-1884. From 1886 to about 1891, Dr. DeSaussure Ford was Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Children, and Clinical Surgery. One-hour lectures were given twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Dr. Ford became Dean in 1883 and subsequently served as Professor of the Principles and Practice of Surgery. Dr. Antony's grandson, Dr. Joseph Eve Allen, became Clinical Assistant and Professor of Diseases of Children in 1877/1878. It was in 1894/95 to 1901/02 that he served as a Professor of Obstetrics and Pediatrics. Three hospital clinics were held each week, a medical and surgical clinic at the City Hospital and a general clinic at the Freedman's Hospital. The members of the faculty each held one clinic weekly in the Polyclinic building. In addition, the Clinical Assistants held a regular clinic for "Diseases of Children" on Mondays. The description of coursework in pediatrics as stated in the school catalog read as follows, "A full course is delivered on the diseases of infants and clinical instruction is given in the most approved methods of diagnosis and treatment." In 1885-96, Robert C. Eve became assistant to the chair, Dr. Joseph Eve Allen.

The Founding of the Department in the Early 20th Century

In about 1905, Dr. William Mulherin emerged as the leader of pediatrics in Augusta and at the school. It is important and justly deserved at this point to focus some attention on the achievements and accomplishments of Dr. Will Mulherin. He received his MD degree from Harvard and interned at St. Vincent's Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1903, he returned to Augusta to begin the practice of medicine. He became increasingly aware of the needs in Richmond County and the need for the caring and feeding of infants. His training at Harvard and continued perseverance to read, attend seminars, and postgraduate courses in the area of pediatrics, qualified him for the appointment of Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the medical school. In 1910, he is listed as Professor of Pediatrics in adjunct faculty and continued as adjunct or clinical faculty until 1940. His influence in pediatrics quickly expended across the South. After the loss of his three-month-old daughter, he resolved to devote the remainder of his life to the study of pediatrics. His brother, Dr. Francis Mulherin, shared a similar interest and took advantage of every opportunity to engage in the study of pediatrics.

In 1916, Dr. Will Mulherin was one of five men to organize the pediatric section of the Southern Medical Association. Before the United States entered into World War I in 1917, Dr. Will was appointed "essential professor" of Pediatrics by the Dean at the University Of Georgia Medical College of Georgia in an effort to preclude any interruption of the teaching program at the college.

In 1919, Dr. Mulherin served as secretary of the pediatric section of the Southern Medical Association and became chairman in 1920. It was during 1920 that he also gained national recognition as vice-chairman of the pediatric section of the American Medical Association. In 1922, he became a member of the Jacobi committee of the AMA section and in 1925, a member of the committee to study the teaching of pediatrics in American universities.

In 1923, Dr. Will was named Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and head of the pediatrics department. He was also Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of Wilhenford Hospital. This small hospital whose purpose was to care for women and children was given to the community by a winter tourist, Mrs. Grace Shaw Duff as a memorial to her husband, son, and father. Dr. Will was her son's physician.

Dr. Will served as president of the Georgia State Medical Association organized pediatric societies in sixteen southern states and Washington, DC. He also organized the Southern Pediatric Seminars in Saluda, North Carolina. He was senator of the Association of American Teachers of Diseases of Children and member of President Hoover's White House Conference on Child Health and Protection.

After being elected Chairman of the pediatric section of the American Medical Association in 1929, Dr. Mulherin was at the peak of his career for it was in 1930 that he was listed in Marquis' Who's Who in America and hailed as the "Father of Pediatrics" in the South.

Others also played key roles in the development of the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical College. Of importance was Dr. William Z. Holliday who became Professor of Pediatrics and Dietetics in 1907/08 after serving as Lecturer on Diseases of children in 1903/04 to 1906/07. Professor Holliday held a weekly Pediatric clinic in the Polyclinic. Pediatrics was taught in the senior year and provided practical experience for the students under the supervision of the professors and their assistants. The medical school course consisted of 3,605 total hours of which 1000 was dedicated to Pediatrics and Dietetics.

In 1910, Dr. Noel McHenry Moore became Professor of Clinical Medicine and Pediatrics, and was named Head of the Department in 1912 and held that position until his death in 1928. Clinical facilities for training students included the Polyclinic, the Wilhenford Hospital, and the West End Clinic for children.

Dr. Francis Mulherin joined the faculty in 1919 and continued as clinical faculty until 1947. Pediatrics was taught in the third and fourth years in the curriculum and consisted of didactic lectures (2 hours per week), quizzes, class conferences on case histories, with wards and outpatient clinics (4 hours per week).

In 1914, Pediatrics was listed as sub-department of Medicine and continued as such until 1922 when it separated as a department of its own. Once again, clinical teaching sties included the pediatric ward in the University Hospital and the Wilhenford Children's Hospital located on the college campus.

After 1914, courses were given in the last half of the junior year and included child development and common diseases. This was followed with clinical experience in the senior year. In 1920, pediatrics was taught in the last 20 weeks of the third year and all throughout the fourth year.

In 1924, the first description of a "well-baby clinic" was noted and it was held for the benefit of the outpatient department, babies, and their mothers. Feeding and hygiene were stressed to the mothers. Fourth year students were required to attend for a duration of 60 hours.

In 1925, an emphasis on preventive pediatrics was noted in the catalog. At that time, it was stated that his Obstetrics Department turned over all babies born in the hospital to the Pediatrics Department as soon as the cord was tied. In addition, as soon as practical, the babies were referred to the well baby clinic for follow-up.

In 1930, Dr. Claude Burpee became the head of the Department of Pediatrics upon his return to Augusta University after special training in St. Louis. He had previously served as Instructor in Medicine in 1925-1925 and Instructor in Pediatrics in 1925-1928 and Instructor in Pediatrics in 1928-1930. He continued as Professor of Pediatrics until his death in 1944.

It was through the efforts of Dr. Burpee that a residency program in pediatrics was established. Dr. Samuel Haddock, having graduated from MCG, was reported to be the first assistant resident in pediatrics in 1930/31. He was the first resident in pediatrics from 1931/32. Dr. Haddock set up practice in Anderson, South Carolina and practiced for nearly 50 years.

In 1932, a course in behavioral abnormalities in children was added to the curriculum. In 1933, ward rounds were introduced with three groups of students participating twice a week for eleven weeks. In addition, a clinical pathological conference as held in conjunction with the Department of Medicine and Pathology. In 1933, Dr. Robert C. McGahee joined Dr. Burpee on the faculty.

In 1936, Dr. Meinhard Robinow joined the department as a research fellow. In 1940, pediatric clinics were added to the curriculum for fourth year students. In 1943, a pediatric psychiatry clinic rotation was added for one hour per week under the supervision of Dr. Cleckly.

In 1945, Dr. Phillip A Mulherin, son of Dr. Will Mulherin, became the head of the department. He joined the faculty in 1934 as a clinical assistant and was later named assistant clinical professor. Under him, the courses were expanded to both first and second trimesters of the junior year, with emphasis on normal child development, feeding, and hygiene. These topics were followed by a study of the important diseases of children. Clinical experience continued in the senior year.

The Post-WWII Era

In 1950, Dr. Harry B. O'Rear joined Augusta University as head of the Department of Pediatrics. Undergraduate training changed from courses to clinical clerkships on wards, supplemented by conferences, seminars, and ward rounds. An elective in pediatrics was offered to students and a two-year residency in pediatrics was in place. The rotating internship included six weeks of pediatrics. The residency program was first listed as an approved residency in JAMA 147: p.428, Sept. 29, 1951. Under Professor O'Rear, conferences were added in Orthopedic Pediatrics, Endocrinology, X-ray, Journal Conferences, Cardiology, Pharmacology, and Medical Jurisprudence. Fellowships for special work or research were available.

When Eugene Talmadge Memorial Hospital opened in June 1956, a two-year residency, after a one year internship, was offered. A third year was optional. University Hospital, although no longer the primary teaching hospital, continued to offer a residency in Pediatrics.

Dr. O'Rear was to have an increasingly important role in the history of MCG. In 1953, he became Dean of the faculty under President Edgar Pund. Upon Dr. Pund's retirement in 1958, Dr. O'Rear became the interim president, being appointed the third president of the Georgia Health Sciences University in 1960.

In 1957, Dr. Victor Vaughan succeeded Dr. O'Rear as Chairman of the Department and remained until 1964. During that time, first year students began to receive a background in pediatrics with a course in Human Development that was offered jointly with the Department of Psychiatry. All subsequent training in pediatrics was concentrated in the fourth year. Electives and postdoctoral programs continued to be offered. In 1958/59, third year electives in pediatrics included Respiratory Care, Medical Genetics, Medical Writing, and Externship.

The 1960's and Beyond

Dr. Gerald Holman succeeded Dr. Vaughan as Chairman in 1965 and served until 1969. Courses were now presented in the first, third and fourth years, and pediatric electives included work in offices of pediatric practitioners in a preceptoral relationship.

Dr. Audrey Brown served as acting chairman until Dr. Alex Robertson became chairman in 1972. Dr. Robertson continued in the position until 1981.

In 1981, Dr. Al Pruitt was Interim Chairman for the Department of Pediatrics. He succeeded Dr. Robertson and was appointed in 1982. Dr. Pruitt holds the Charles Ellington Hawes Professorship, donated by the Mrs. Grace Hawes in memory of her husband.