October 15, 2015


 1915 - 1925

Posted Sept. 30, 2015

The earliest issues of JAVMA saw little difference from its predecessor, the American Veterinary Review. Most of the pages of these early issues were taken up with records of the AVMA’s annual meeting, including speech transcripts, committee reports, lists of attendees, and lists of new members, or with reports of papers presented at the meeting. In a November 1915 editorial, however, Dr. Pierre A. Fish wrote that even though the new journal would publish proceedings of the Association’s meeting, “there must be space for contributions if the periodical is to be a Journal in fact as well as name” and went on to state that “It will be our aim to strike a happy medium in this respect, to omit no item of importance of the association’s affairs, and yet have a sufficient variety of articles of timely interest to appeal to the progressive practitioner, who, after all, is the bulwark of the profession.”

An excerpt from the first (October 1915) issue of JAVMA:

— Important announcement —
Review becomes official organ of American Veterinary Medical Association.

Exercising the power vested in it at the Oakland meeting of the American Veterinary Medical Association, to establish an official organ of the association—either by the creation of a new journal or the acquirement of an already established one—the Committee on Journal, through its sub-committee, has purchased the American Veterinary Review, and has selected as editor of the official organ Pierre A. Fish, of Ithaca, N.Y., who is preparing to assume the duties of this important position at the earliest moment consistent with the many details incident to such a step.

The Journal was true to the vision of Dr. Fish, its first editor, and in 1922, then–editor-in-chief Dr. John R. Mohler proudly announced in his report to the AVMA Executive Board that from October 1920 to September 1921, the Journal published “the proceedings of the fifty-seventh annual meeting of the Association, 125 original papers, 37 clinical and case reports, 66 abstracts of research papers (practically all foreign), 8 book reviews, 92 reports and notices of meetings of veterinary associations and other gatherings, 42 editorials, and numerous miscellaneous articles and items.”

Not surprisingly, original papers published during these first years of the Journal overwhelmingly related to food animals or horses, most often focusing on infectious diseases such as hog cholera, anthrax, glanders, foot-and-mouth disease, tuberculosis, infectious abortion, and rinderpest. However, articles on companion animals made their appearance, along with occasional articles about poultry and even foxes. Articles on parasites, including parasites of horses, swine, sheep, and dogs, were also quite prominent.

The first separately plated images, titled “Paralysis of Pigs,”
appeared in the May 1916 issue.

Two special sections that appeared during these first years of the Journal are of note. The first, “European Chronicles,” was written by Dr. Alexandre F. Liautard, the first editor-in-chief for the American Veterinary Review, and consisted of summaries and abstracts of articles published in various foreign journals that Dr. Liautard felt would be of interest to American readers. It continued until Dr. Liautard’s death in 1918. The other was the “Army Veterinary Service” section, which was started in September 1917, the year after the establishment of the Army Veterinary Corps in June 1916, and continued through the late 1930s, providing articles, letters, and reports related to military service.

“Army Veterinary Service” was one of JAVMA’s earliest special
sections. It first appeared in the September 1917 issue and
continued through the late 1930s, providing articles, letters,
and reports related to military service.

Articles of particular interest include an October 1918 piece by Dr. Fish titled “Vitamines and nutrition,” which discussed the important role vitamins play in health and disease, apparently a relatively new idea at the time. Education—particularly educational standards—was also an important topic, with William Berg publishing the article “How to raise standards in veterinary education” in 1919 and the Journal devoting the April 1924 issue to a series of articles on educational matters.

During the same time, the Journal published an editorial advocating for more veterinary students, writing that “It is true at the present time to many within the ranks, the future of the profession is not alluring, and they would hesitate to recommend it to anyone as a vocation. The present conditions by which many are judging the future are, however, only temporary and will adjust themselves.”

Editorials published in April 1918 by Dr. Pierre Fish (“Horseflesh”) and AVMA Executive Board member Dr. W. Horace Hoskins (“Eight reasons for equine meat as food”) advocating to allow the consumption of horse meat in the United States are of interest in light of efforts in the early part of the 21st century to ban the slaughter of horses in this country for food.

Finally, an editorial in the April 1922 issue, “Motorized vs. horse-drawn fire apparatus,” talked about the inadvisability of changing to all motorized fire trucks, noting that “It may be that motorized apparatus capable of quickly reaching fires through snow drifts, in spite of high winds, low temperatures, and high hills, may some day be developed, but such apparatus does not exist today.”