There is little known about the first hundred years of medicine in Delaware. However, it is assumed that pioneer physicians who first arrived came supplied with the medical and surgical appliances available in England, Holland and Sweden. The first physician to practice medicine was Dr. Tyman Stidham, in 1654 when he landed in New Castle, DE.
The Medical Society of Delaware was incorporated in 1789. The first president was Dr. James Tilton, a distinguished physician who was penned by General George Washington as a "gentleman of great merit". Other prominent physicians who helped shape the medical profession in Delaware include Doctors Edward Miller, Lewis Potter Bush and Lewis B. Flinn.
Dental history began in Delaware with a traveling dentist who visited communities that needed his services. He was not a mere tooth-puller but somewhat of a student of medical literature, a skilled metal worker who repaired teeth and made artificial dentures. The Delaware Dental Association was founded in 1863 by Doctors Samuel Marshall, William G. A. Boniwell and Charles R. Jefferis. The first dentist on record was Dr. John LeTelier. Membership also included Doctor Frances Treadwell, one of Delaware's first women dentists.
The Delaware Academy of Medicine was founded by sixteen doctors and dentists in 1930. These included Julian Adair, MD; Olin S. Allen, MD; Joseph M. Barsky, Sr., MD; W. Edwin Bird, MD; J. Draper Brown, DDS; Lewis B. Flinn, MD; George W.K. Forrest, MD; William H. Kraemer, MD; W. Oscar LaMotte, Sr., MD; Emil R. Mayerberg, MD; John H. Mullin, MD; W. Morris Pierson, MD; James H. Spackman, MD; Albert J. Strikol, MD; Charles E. Wagner, MD; and Victor D. Washburn, MD. Their goal was to provide a professional library and a meeting place where doctors and dentists from all over the state could gather to exchange ideas and experiences, and so improve the quality and delivery of medical care. They also intended the Academy to be a historical repository for the Delaware medical community, documenting and memorializing the lives of its members.
Dr. Flinn served as the Academy’s first president, occupying the office for twelve years. Many years later, in 1984, the Academy's library was renamed in his honor, becoming the Lewis B. Flinn Library.
Since its founding, the Delaware Academy of Medicine has been housed in the former Bank of Delaware building, which was built in 1815 on Sixth and Market Streets in Wilmington. After the bank moved to newer quarters in 1931 and the building was left empty, Mrs. Henry B. Thompson and Mrs. Ernest I. duPont led a drive to raised funds to purchase the building for the newly founded Academy. With their help and support, the building was relocated to the current site on Lovering Avenue, and the Academy took up residence there in 1932. In 1958, an addition was constructed, expanding the auditorium and creating more office space for the various medical groups that had their offices in the building.
Over the years since 1930, the Academy’s purpose has grown broader. It has historically served the Delaware medical community by offering them a meeting place, and it provides medical library services with an extensive collection of journals, books, and databases and other electronic resources that few other institutions in the state can match. Since 1961, the Academy has also provided financial aid to medical and dental students.
When the library was established it began collecting books, journals and artifacts to preserve the history of medicine and dentistry in Delaware. Over the years, the library membership has grown, serving physicians and dentists statewide. In 1981,TEL-MED, an automated telephone system of recorded consumer health information was installed. In 1982, the Circuit Riding Medical Library Program, which brough library services to health care institutions on a regular basis, was established with the first contracts at Kent General and Milford Memorial hospitals. That program was discontinued in 2007 when the last of those libraries was successfully lead to running their own in-house library. In 1984, the Library was dedicated to Lewis B. Flinn, one of the founders and the first president of The Delaware Academy of Medicine.
In 1999, the boards of Christiana Care Health System and the Delaware Academy of Medicine formed a unique strategic alliance to better serve their missions and communities. As a result, in November 2006, the offices of the Academy were moved to its current location on the ground floor of the John H. Ammon Medical Education Center at the Stanton, Delaware Campus of Christiana Care Health System. The Lewis B. Flinn medical library located on the first floor of the Education Center is a merger of the original Delaware Academy of Medicine and Christiana Hospital libraries. While the Academy of Medicine is located as a tenant at Christiana Care, it is important to note the the Academy of Medicine is not a part of Christiana Care Health System. The Academy maintains programmatic relationships with all of the other hospitals, specialty societies, and Division of State government including the Division of Libraries and the Division of Public Health.
Today, the Delaware Academy of Medicine serves the general public directly as well. It makes its health information resources accessible to everyone in many ways, including professional reference librarian service, the Gail P. Gill Consumer Health Library of popular medical books, and the TEL-MED automated health information service. In 2005 the State of Delaware initiated a series of grants to the Academy which lead to the development of Delaware Health Source - a program which sees medical librarians placed in three public libraries (one in each county). These librarians field questions in the library setting, as well as work in their respective counties providing health and wellness information through lectures and seminars.
As the nature of medical information delivery has changed due to the internet, the Academy of Medicine has kept pace by developing, in 2008, a new program, DelMIRA (Delaware Medical Information Resource Alliance). DelMIRA - provides access to electronic databases, textbooks, and journals to all acute care hospitals. DelMIRA is funded by a $400,000 grant from the Delaware Health Fund Advisory Committee. DelMIRA was created to address the disparity in access to biomedical information and health data that exists statewide and affects all types of health care institutions. Having desktop access to this information improves patient outcomes and quality of care, as well as provider productivity by enabling the clinicians to make the best-informed clinical decisions at crucial points-of-care. DelMIRA will also help Delaware to be more competitive in recruitment and retention of health care professionals, particularly nurses, which is a goal of Healthy Delaware 2010.