• Part 10: The Middle 1960s

  • In 1964, the RSNA was 50 years old. Howard P. Doub, MD, the Editor of Radiology, marked the occasion by writing a definitive history of the Society, which was published just before the annual meeting in the November issue of Radiology. In contrast to the mood of the country, still recovering from the murder of its president, RSNA leaders believed it was appropriate to make the 1964 meeting a golden-anniversary celebration. The good times were short-lived, however.

    Shortly after the 1964 meeting, at the request of RSNA President Robert P. Barden, MD, a young radiologist from Harrisburg, Pa, Theodore A. Tristan, MD, reported on the increasing inadequacies of the Palmer House as an annual meeting site. Dr Tristan showed that the physical arrangements for exhibits, for slide projection, and classroom space, were no longer suitable for RSNA and would soon restrict further growth of the scientific assembly. But before Executive Committee members could adequately evaluate Dr Tristan's report, they received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that RSNA would no longer qualify as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization because it was obtaining revenue from renting space to exhibitors at its annual meeting, and from selling advertising in Radiology. This was a threat to the existence of the Society.

    RSNA leaders realized that if the Society were no longer considered a nonprofit organization, the bylaws would become meaningless; and, if RSNA could exist at all, it could continue only as a business or corporation selling educational products to radiologists for profit. The Society appealed the IRS decision claiming that the technical exhibits and Radiology advertising were for education. As a result, Society lawyers recommended that RSNA call its annual meeting a "Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting" and put some of its rental and advertising money in accounts specifically designated for educational or research endeavors.

    Ultimately, IRS officials decided not to change the Society's nonprofit status.

    Development of a Program Committee 

    By 1965, the RSNA Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting was not only an important affair for the Society, but it had also evolved into a major event for Chicago, bringing tens of thousands of dollars to the city. Society President Robert D. Moreton, MD, realized it was getting too large for Secretary-Treasurer Maurice Frazer, MD, Executive Secretary Marguerite Henry, and various committee chairmen to organize. With the assistance of the Executive Committee, Dr Moreton consolidated the development of the scientific program under the direction of one chairman of an all-encompassing "Program Committee." In addition, some plenary sessions were changed. Notably, the Memorial Fund Lecture was renamed the New Horizons Lecture to widen the focus of the topics that could be discussed by future lecturers.

    Meanwhile, Radiology continued to gain worldwide acclaim as a first-class publication in the field. Dr Doub published a 25-year review of the journal, showing the progress it had made since the 1940s. As further proof of the importance of Radiology, two articles from the journal were included in the contents of a time capsule buried in October at the New York City World's Fair.

    Dr Doub Retires 

    In 1966, Dr Doub, who had been editor of Radiology for a quarter century, announced his retirement. Fortunately for RSNA President John W. Walker, MD, and the Executive Committee, an exhaustive search for a new editor was unnecessary. Dr Doub had a protégé—a young radiologist named William R. Eyler, MD. Over the previous years, Dr Doub had been increasing Dr Eyler's responsibilities related to the production of Radiology.

    At first, Dr Doub gave Dr Eyler a few manuscripts to review. Later, he showed Dr Eyler how to manage the journal.1 By 1962, Dr Doub had the RSNA leaders officially recognize Dr Eyler as an assistant editor. Consequently, by 1966, it was apparent to Dr Walker that Dr Eyler should be the next editor of Radiology to oversee the continued growth of the Society's journal.

    Throughout the late 1960s, the United States was in turmoil. Shocked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Robert F. Kennedy, and polarized over the war in Vietnam, many Americans wondered if the nation would survive the tragic times. In contrast, RSNA was a stable, expanding organization with an adequate financial base, primarily because Dr Frazer was keeping tight control over Society finances.

    In 1967, he irritated a few RSNA members when he questioned the budget for the Ladies' Entertainment Program held during the Scientific Assembly. (The Ladies' Entertainment Program is now the Tours & Events Program for all guests and accompanying spouses of RSNA meeting attendees.) The program was managed by a committee comprising wives of Chicago-area radiologists. Dr Frazer urged the head of the committee to explain why the ladies' program spent $500 more than the appropriated $700. The head of the committee blamed the Palmer House for raising the price of coffee, tea, and sandwiches by 15% to 30% over the previous 2 years. She also complained that Palmer House sandwiches were horrible to eat, forcing the ladies to supplement hotel food with their own homemade sandwiches and home-baked cookies.

    Given that Palmer House officials were still willing to hold the RSNA meeting in spite of the strain it was causing on hotel facilities, RSNA leaders were unwilling to antagonize hotel workers with the complaint. The Chicago Radiological Society quietly paid the $500 deficit.


    1. Eyler WR. Personal communication. Nov 1995.
    Receiving Radiology award presented by Theodore Wachowski, RSNA President 1960
    Robert P. Barden, MD President 1964
    Robert D. Moreton, MD President 1965

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