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The Aesculapian Medical Society was established in 1903 and is one of the oldest NMA chapters in the country.  African American physicians, dentists, and pharmacists originally banded together in Indianapolis around the turn of the 20th century when the Marion County Medical Society refused admission to blacks,  This loosely organized group was more firmly established in 1929 when Dr. Edwin Moten took over leadership of the group, named after the ancient god of medicine and healing.

The Aesculapian Medical Society, Inc. is an independent 501 (c) (3) organization (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations). Contributions to the organization are tax deductible.  The organization receives a substantial part of its support from the general membership.  The organization is required to file Form 990 - (all other) or 990EZ return.

Like its white counterparts, the Aesculapian Medical Society transmitted professional information and established group cohesion and recognition.  In addition, it was committed to self-protection against discriminatory practices within the local medical community.  Members pushed for the admittance African American doctors and patients into local hospitals, meeting success in 1953 when national forces converged with their efforts and city hospital (now Wishard Hospital) became integrated.  

In the succeeding decades, the society supported the continued advancements of African American doctors into medical education and hospital administrative positions.  The society has also pushed for better health care for African Americans through such organizations as the Metropolitan Health Council, and since the 1960s it has contributed funds for medical school scholarships for African American students.  During the 1940s, the society's dentists and pharmacists left to form their own organizations. 

Source: George H. Rawls, History of the Black Physicians in Indianapolis, 1870 - 2000  (Indianapolis, 1984)

Source: Eric J. Bailey, PhD, The Health-Care System and African Americans in Indianapolis (Journal of the National Medical Association, Vol. 86, No. 11) 

Moten, Edwin D., Sr. (Pictured here) [Letter from Dr. Edwin D. Moten to Dr. Dennis A. Bethea, March 16, 1947], letter, March 16, 1947;(texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth21439/m1/1/: accessed October 25, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum.

NMA Region IV News

P.O. Box 681491, Indianapolis, IN  46268

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