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THE BIRTH OF A JOURNAL
By Sawnie R. Gaston, M.D.
The year 1959 was a year of transition. The Association took under consideration the founding of a journal to be devoted entirely to trauma, sponsored by the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and published by Williams and Wilkins Company, Baltimore, Maryland.
The beginnings of the Journal came as an overture to the Association from Mr. Dick M. Hoover, who at that time was specialty journals editor of Williams and Wilkins. In response to a recent inquiry, Mr. Hoover recalls.
It all began in March of 1955… Dr. James K. Stack, Secretary of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, received a letter from me and granted me an interview in Chicago. Dr. Stack said he planned to present the suggestion to the fall meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma in 1955. After the fall meeting, Dr. Stack reported that the Association was not ready for separate publication of a journal and that a study would be needed to determine whether or not a journal is called for.
The matter of the journal was reopened in the middle of 1958…The president of our company at the time, E.F. Williams, met with Dr. Preston A. Wade in New York City. Out of that meeting came a proposal in the form of a contract of publication.
Meanwhile, at the 1958 meeting of the Board of Managers in Chicago, an ad hoc committee with Dr. Wade as chairman was appointed to investigate the sponsorship of such a journal. This committee negotiated with Mr. Dick Hoover and a “Periodical Publishing Agreement” was formalized.
At the Bretton Woods meeting, the fellows voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Board of Managers that the Association sponsor a journal of trauma. Two days later, the Board of Managers met and unanimously elected Dr. Charles G. Johnson as the editor. It was planned that the first issue of the Journal would be published early in 1961 and there would be six issues a year. It would be Dr. Johnston’s responsibility to appoint his editorial board. The contracts of publication between the Association and the publisher were signed in early January of 1960 by President Stack and Secretary Fitts for the Association.
The sudden death of Dr. Johnston on June 3, 1960 of a heart attack was a great blow to his many friends, the Association, and the pending publication of the Journal of Trauma. A memorial to Dr. Johnston appeared on the frontispiece of the first issue of the Journal, January 1961, with his photograph and a tribute by Dr. I.S. Ravdin.
Dr. Johnston is honored as the Founding Editor on the masthead of all issues of the Journal.
The Board of Managers held a special meeting in Chicago on September 9, 1960 to select a new Editor. Dr. Rudolf J. Noer was the unanimous choice. Dr. Noer continued as Editor for eight years until November 1968.
In anticipation of the appointment of a new editor the Board of Managers sought acceptance for this challenging commitment from one of the stalwarts of the Association.
Dr. William T. Fitts had served the Association as Secretary (1958-1962) and so impressive was his stewardship that Dr. Harrison L. McLaughlin, in accepting the Presidency of the Association (1961), said of him in tribute, “Bill Fitts is the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma.”
He was Secretary when the decision was made to initiate the Journal of Trauma; he was an original editorial consultant; and he had long familiarity with the operation of the Journal. He became the Editor on November 1, 1968.
In 1969 the Journal went from a bimonthly publication of 900 pages yearly to a monthly journal of almost 1200 pages annually. Because of the success of the Journal, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and the editorial consultants of the Journal approved a plan to further increase the material to be published in 1970 by going to a double column format, which increased the total number of words by about 30 percent.
In 1975, John Davis becomes the Editor of the Journal of Trauma. Dr. Davis was Editor for 70 years and in 1995 Dr. Basil A. Pruitt, Jr. becomes the fifth editor of the Journal of Trauma. Dr. Pruitt held the position of Editor for 17 years until the end of 2011.
In 2012, Dr. Ernest E. Moore became Editor and at the same time, the title changed to Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
This article was published in Surgical Clinics of North America (1973), Sawnie R. Gaston, MD, A History of The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, pgs. 31-34, Copyright Elsevier 2012