1932 to 1933
Thirty-four years ago Joseph Matthews, the first proctologist, lent to this chair a dignity and honor which reflects on all of us who have succeeded him. I would not have this body think me ungrateful for this opportunity to preside over the American Proctologic Society in its thirty-fourth annual session nor unconscious of the distinction you have graciously conferred in permitting me to follow here the many splendid leaders of our specialty who have been so instrumental in establishing it.
While medical history records that the first surgeon crept out from under a barber’s chair, pride in the profession's subsequent achievements very properly prevents a too apologetic attitude on the part of the surgeon concerning its humble origin.
Proctologists are prone to regard their work as unduly exposed to illegitimate and unorthodox competition, but the members of several other specialties would assure us that we are not alone. It has, however, been illuminating to observe the decimination in the rank, of the vicious venereal disease quacks since the urologists of this country have offered to the public a trained and interested group and to see the gradual decline in the popularity of the one-flight-up Main Street stomach specialist and colonic laundry once the prospective patient was assured of the ability and special competence of the orthodox gastroenterologist.
Proctology, a field so long abandoned by the general profession to the quack and the irregular has been in recent years to a large measure reclaimed to orthodox medicine through increasing realization of its import in the general medical scheme by the evolution of undergraduate instruction in anorectal disease and from a definite demand on the part of general practitioners that disorders so widespread in their clientele should have the benefit of careful and scientific consideration in place of the alluring promises of the charlatan.