Charaka Club Records, 1898-2012

Charaka Club Records

Historical Note

The Charaka Club, which still exists and meets regularly, was founded in 1898 by a group of five doctors: Charles Dana, Joseph Collins, Ward A. Holden, Frederick Peterson, and Bernard Sachs. The founders shared an interest in the historical, literary and artistic aspects of medicine. The society’s first name was the Medico-Historical Club. In 1900, the name was changed to the Charaka Club, after the legendary Indian physician who compiled a book of ancient medical texts.

Meetings were initially hosted by society members in their homes. From 1911 to 1923, meetings were held at the Century Association or other clubs, and from 1923 to 1984, meetings were held at the Coffee House Club. Since 1984, the society has met at the Century Association.

At the club dinners, various members presented papers on literature, art, and history, usually related to medical history. Beginning in 1902, many of these papers were published in The Proceedings of the Charaka Club. Twelve volumes were produced, the last in 1988.

After World War II, the society considered opening membership to people without medical backgrounds. There was concern that the challenges of the post-war medical world might limit the time and leisure doctors had to prepare quality essays. The society also considered disbanding, but decided against it.

The society began the tradition of the ‘safari,’ a fall excursion and dinner which included wives and other guests, in 1951. The first safari was a social afternoon and evening hosted by the Charakans living in Riverdale. Other early safaris included a visit to Princeton and a tour of Radio City Music Hall. In later years, the excursion ended with a dinner at a club or restaurant.

Collection Description

The collection contains minutes, correspondence, publications, talks, and artifacts, among other materials.

The minutes date from 1898 through 2012, with some gaps. The most informative minutes were kept by Archibald Malloch, 1935-1949. The club created various committees, such as Membership and Communications, but there are almost no records of the work of the committees, except through the minutes or executives’ correspondence.

The principal purpose of the club was to share the members’ interests outside of medicine. The talks given by the members at the meetings ranged wildly in subject matter and the club published the best of these talks in The Proceedings beginning in 1902. The last volume was published in 1988. There are four boxes of texts of many of the talks given after 1925. Some are the talks were not included in The Proceedings.

Administrative Info

Collection processed and described by Dorothy Truman.

Requests for permission to quote from or publish any materials should be directed to the reference librarian or curator in writing.

Preferred Citation

Charaka Club Records. The Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room, New York Academy of Medicine Library.


On deposit by the Charaka Club.

Collection Contents

Organization and Administration

Box 1    Lists of officers, members, and By-laws - 1912-1993

9 Folders

Some gaps; Printed booklets often with annotations

Box 1    Committee Report re: membership and conduct of meetings - 1953

1 Folder


Box 1    Notices / Invitations to dinners or meetings - 1907-2012

13 Folders

Arranged by secretary; some gaps, may include titles of papers to be given, proposed candidates; many have no year; In 1950s RSVP to NYAM. In 1990s included lists of attendees, records of dues paid

Box 2    Agendas / Schedules of meetings and speakers - 1928-1209

4 Folders

Some contain date of Safari and copies of invitations to dinner meetings; 1963-1967. Includes solicitations of papers

Box 2    Attendance records - 1921-2010

8 Folders

1921-1927, 1932-1944, 1937-1939,1948-1966, 1971-1979, 1989-1994, 2010

Box 2    Number of meetings attended each year - 1991-1994

1 Folder

Box 2    Papers re: Safaris - 1951-2011

10 Folders

Incomplete; Includes correspondence about beginning “safaris." May also include announcements, invitations, reports, attendance, and charges; some photographs.

See also: Correspondence and Minutes


Box 3    Minutes - 1898-2012

1 Box

With gaps; Includes a printed pamphlet The Palimpsest, 1904, other years also in pamphlet form; minutes, 1935-1949, by Archibald Malloch have originals and carbons; no minutes for 1959-1961; Grant Sanger’s minutes 1949-1988 are summaries of talks given but little or no reports of club business; 1994-2011 no minutes.

Box 4    Minutes - 1902-1934

1 Volume

Largely hand written notes pasted in scrapbook


Correspondence may also include: Invitations and acceptances of membership; replies re: attendance at meetings, offers to give papers; matters re: Proceedings; also letters from widows and family members of deceased members.

Box 5    Miscellaneous correspondence with NYAM - 1912-1959

1 Folder

Box 5    Correspondence of Dr. Camac - 1908, 1920-1927

6 Folders

Includes regrets about attending meetings; much is about publication of Proceedings; One folder has letters with no year date

Box 5    Letter to Dr. Holden from Grace R. Osler - 1920

1 Folder

Box 5    Letter to Dr. Dana from Frederick Tillney - 1925

1 Folder

Re: Dr. Dana's resignation from Board of Neurological Institute

Box 5    Correspondence of Archibald Malloch - 1928-1949

3 Folders

Includes some letters re: NYAM matters and re: publication of Proceedings

Box 5    Correspondence of Drs. Gerster and Rake - 1950-1956

1 Folder

Box 5    Miscellaneous Correspondence - 1955-1961

1 Folder

Box 5    Correspondence of Claude Heaton - 1960-1962

1 Folder

Box 5    Correspondence of Grant Sanger - 1970-1989

3 Folders

General club business

Box 6    Correspondence of Grant Sanger re: Dr. Dana’s portrait - 1978

1 Folder

Including papers about condition and possible conservation; also appraisals and plan to display this and portraits of other founders at club’s 90th anniversary in 1988.

Box 6    Correspondence of Grant Sanger Re: correspondence of Don Fawcett - 1979-19??

1 Folder

Largely re: descriptions of Fawcett’s work and life in Africa

Box 6    Correspondence of Grant Sanger, letter from George Humphries re: Osler - 1985

1 Folder

Analyzing and interpreting A. Malloch’s notes on the death of Sir William Osler. Published in Osler Library Newsletter #47 October 1984

Box 6    Correspondence of Grant Sanger, correspondence re: 90th anniversary - 1988

1 Folder

See also files on membership for texts of biographies of founding members and others.

Box 6    Correspondence of Goodwin Breinin - 1990-1994

2 Folders

Box 6    Correspondence of Andrew Frantz - 1995-2002

1 Folder

Box 6    Miscellaneous papers of John Truman - 1988-2011

1 Folder

Includes correspondence, Jan. 2010 booklet with minutes and reports


See Also: Section on Organization for Booklets with lists of members

See Also: Financial Section for records of dues paid

See Also: Correspondence for invitations to membership, replies from candidates, and resignations

See Also: Attendance sheets

Box 7    Membership / Admissions committee reports - 1950-1959

1 Folder

Box 7    Nominations for members - 1990-1993

1 Folder

Box 7    Membership lists - 1919-1977, 2003, 2012

7 Folders

With gaps, some with contact information

Box 7    Membership lists including spouses - 1998-2004

2 Folders

Box 7    Former members died or resigned - 1953

1 Folder

Box 7    Papers re: dinner honoring Dr. William Osler - 1905

1 Folder

Program and photograph of the bronze plaque presented to Dr. Osler on this occasion. Full description of this event is in Vol. II of the Proceedings

Box 7    Booklet from annual meeting with quotations appropriate for members - 1910

1 Folder

Box 7    Papers re: 25th anniversary celebration - 1923

1 Folder

Includes program with minutes, letters, invitations, labels for exhibits

Box 7    Toast to R. Tait McKenzie - 1938

1 Folder

Box 7    Papers of and about Peyton Rous - 1960-1975

4 Folders

Found in papers deposited with Charaka papers in 2005. They probably relate to Joseph Blumenthal, Rous’ friend and neighbor in Cornwall, CT. Includes correspondence, reprints, and obituaries

Box 7    CVs - 1994, 1996

2 Folders

Clyde Parker 1994, Jonathan E. Rhoads

Box 7    Biographies of various Charakans - 1988

1 Folder

Prepared for 90th anniversary

Box 7    Papers re: dinner honoring Andrew Frantz - 2010

1 Folder

Box 7    Photographs - nd - 2010

4 Folders

Portrait negatives of Frederick Peterson, Ward A. Holden, and Archibald Malloch; also candid pictures from meetings

Box 8    Memorials / Obituaries - 1919-1952

½ Box

Alphabetical order; list available

Publications: Proceedings and History

Volumes of Proceedings were published in 1902, 1906, 1910, 1916, 1919, 1925, 1931, 1935, 1938, and 1988

See also: Correspondence files

Box 9    Miscellaneous papers - 1906-1988

1 Box

Most of these files originated with Archibald Malloch; they include correspondence with publishers, authors of papers, orders for copies, etc

Box 10    Communications Committee - 1944-1959

1 Folder

Correspondence, questionnaire, and list of all papers given 1944-1959. Concerns about publishing Proceedings.

Box 10    Miscellaneous papers re: publications - 1926-1979.

4 Folders

Correspondence, evaluation of articles for publication

Box 10    Notes for History of the Charaka Club - 1978

3 Folders

Box 14-15    Texts of talks / papers - 1925-2009

4 Boxes

Alphabetical and chronological lists available.


Bank Statements, cancelled checks, etc. have been discarded. List available.

Box 15    Financial Statements - 1938-1987
Box 15    Balance sheet - 1990-1994
Box 15    Pages from account book - 1990

1 Folder

Box 15    Record of dues payments - 1972-2000

1 Folder

With gaps

Box 15    Cash receipts - 1966-1967

1 Folder

Check list of dues and dinner payments

Box 15    Bank correspondence - 1953-2001

4 Folders

Re: officers signatures and Dr. Sanger’s estate

Box 15    Bills and receipts - 1973, 1989

Includes notes for clerical expenditures


Box 16    Small card with Charaka seal - n.d.

1 Folder

Possibly from menu

Box 16    Menus - 1906, 1910

2 Folders

Box 16    Rooster print / engraving - 1914

1 Folder

Probably used on menus and place cards

Program mockup for meeting - n.d.

1 Folder

Fabricious ; cover has caricature and name, Dr. Holden

Box 16    Dr. Dana’s Charaka Balm - n.d.

1 Folder

By Dr. Allen McLane Hamilton

Box 16    Papers re: trip to Boston for meeting - 1915

1 Folder

Box 16    Book Stamp - 1915?

1 Folder

For Dr. George Walton as author of Peg Along

Box 16    Music - 1998-1925

3 Folders

Includes songs for male voices, notes by Jerome B. Webster on Chinese music, street cries with German texts, notes on fragment of envelope

Box 16    Typescripts of texts Horace and of The Venerable Bede - n.d.

1 Folder

Possibly from Dr. Dana

Box 16    Notes etc. for talk on writers on angling - n.d.

1 Folder

Box 16    Text of talk by Warren Powers Laird on Willard Fillmore - 1940

1 Folder

Given in Philadelphia at Pennsylvania Society for the Order the Founders and Patriots of America

Box 16    Summa Cum Laude - 1946?

1 Folder

Toast by George Humpheys to Allen Whipple and his surgical team on his retirement, 3 are Charakans

Box 16    Images of “Fortune” - n.d.

1 Folder

Possibly illustrations for a talk

Box 16    Biography of Tracy Jackson Putnam - 1988

1 Folder

Article from journal

Box 16    Unattributed poetry - n.d.

1 Folder

Box 16    Samples of Charaka stationery - n.d.

1 Folder

Box 16    Covers / envelopes from miscellaneous letters - 1925-1984

1 Folder

Box 16    Duplicates of various early printed items

1 Folder

Miscellany: Booklets

Box 16    Syphilis: poeme en trios chants - 1848

1 Folder

By Barthelemy

Fragile condition

Box 16    Reprint of article by George Dock on editions of Rosa Anglica of John Gaddesden (1492) - 1907

1 Folder

Box 16    Booklet of verse re: members for annual meeting - 1910

1 Folder

Box 16    Booklet of Appreciation - 1916

1 Folder

By Dr. Charles L. Dana; thanking each member of the club for his portrait that the club had commissioned and had given to NYAM

Box 16    Booklet of Poems - 1933

1 Folder

Another Spring by Marie Falconer

Box 16    Wax impressions of the seal on the signet ring with supporting papers - 1925

1 Folder

Wax impression; booklet explaining origin of ring and purpose of wax impression. Given to Charaka archives by George H Walton who had had the ring made. Poem describing seal by Dr. Walton. Copy of letter of Dr. Walton to Dr. Camac.

Charaka Signet Ring was designed and commissioned by Dr. George H. Walton. It was passed from president to president. Some minutes before 1960 report the ceremony of passing the ring to the new president. There is a gap in the minutes for 1959-1960 and the next minutes make no mention of the passing of the ring. The question of what happened to the ring was raised in 1970.

Box 17    The Ola

1 item

Manuscript of notes of Indian medicine written on strips of palm leaves. Strips are stacked and covered with decorated wooden boards; it opens fan-like. Gift of Casey A. Wood 1926

The library has several of these also the gift of Dr. Wood. This one belongs to the Charaka and no record has been found that it was given to NYAM.

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Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The New York Academy of Medicine Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Charaka ClubSearch ArchiveGrid
History of medicineSearch ArchiveGrid
Literature and medicineSearch ArchiveGrid
Medicine -- History -- New York (State) -- New York -- Societies, etc.Search ArchiveGrid
Medicine and artSearch ArchiveGrid
Medicine and the humanitiesSearch ArchiveGrid