History of the King County Medical Society

Since it was founded in 1888, the King County Medical Society (KCMS) has continued its founders’ vision of aiding physicians in their contribution to, “improve the quality of life, the relief of pain and discomfort, and the attainment of each individual’s fullest physical, social, and emotional health.”

In 1852, the first physicians arrived in Seattle, WA. As the city’s population grew, local physicians began raising awareness of public health issues and provided health services to those who could not afford it. Many of those physicians naturally fell into leadership roles in the medical community and other civic duties. Even before Washington became a state in 1889, KCMS was formally organized. These founding physicians were involved in political, social, and business activities that helped to define Seattle, King County, and the formation of WA state.

During the summer of 1888, a small group of 23 Seattle physicians identified the need for an organization to assist the city in dealing with public health problems and decided to form a society to establish and uphold high medical practice standards in King County. On Aug. 7, 1888, Dr. Gideon A. Weed and Dr. Thomas T. Minor, having both served terms as mayor of Seattle, gathered with other Seattle physicians to create the King County Medical Society.

This group of physicians identified the purpose of the Society as a way to promote public health, to protect the growing population from questionable medical practitioners, and to provide a forum to share medical knowledge. The Society’s first set of formal minutes were written and adopted a week later, on Aug. 13, 1888 at a meeting held in the offices of Dr. Thomas T. Minor and Dr. Lewis R. Dawson. The following officers were elected: Dr. Gideon Weed – President, Dr. F.V. Goodspeed – Vice President, Dr. J.B. Eagleson – Secretary, and Dr. L. R. Dawson – Treasurer.

In one of its earliest meetings, the organization took steps to outlaw professional medical advertising in an effort to protect the gullible from the many charlatans on the frontier. The Society also established scientific programs to help the community’s doctors keep up to date with new medical concepts like bacteriological diagnosis and new procedures for antiseptic surgery introduced by British surgeon Joseph Lister – now called the “Father of Modern Surgery”.

The personal stories of these founding physicians go well beyond their daily medical practice. Some of our founders’ significant contributions included: aiding in the formation of the Washington State Constitution, election and appointment to political offices that shaped the future of Puget Sound and state health policies, foundation of state and regional medical libraries and medical publications, establishment of hospitals and universities, and introduction of the latest medical advances such as the state’s first bacteriology laboratory and regional x-ray machine.

The King County Medical Society’s storied history continues to this day. The Society has always been and always will be a powerful voice and political advocate for physicians and patients at the local, state, and federal levels. The King County Medical Society is a leader in the best medical practices, the betterment of the community, the protection of King County citizens, and promotion of the highest ideals and standards of medical practice.