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Delaware Valley Society for Radiation Safety

In the Beginning...

In March 1958, John Thomas wrote local members of the fledgling Health Physics Society and other individuals concerned with radiation safety to determine if there would be interest in local meetings and establishment of a local chapter. An organizational meeting was held May 13, 1958. This produced a tentative schedule of meetings and topics and general agreement to “proceed and see what happens.”

On November 6, 1958, the first program was held at the University of Pennsylvania. Jesse Lieberman described Philadelphia’s program in radiation hazard evaluation and control. Subsequent programs included:

Speaker Topic

  • R.O. Gorson “The NCRP and its Recommendations”

  • Dr. Jan Lieben “The Commonwealth’s Radiation Control Program"

  • Paul Klevan “The AEC Civilian Application and Inspection Program”

  • Dr. H.W. Locke “Health Physics Aspects of the Nuclear Ship Savannah” (followed by subsequent field trip meeting to the Savannah)

  • Dr. Richard Chamberlain “Radiation Protection Efforts of the American College of Radiology”

  • Also presented the film: “Radiation: Physician and Patient” which he was instrumental in making.

Speaker related costs were borne by passing the hat at meetings.

At the meeting featuring Dr. Chamberlain, on October 20, 1959, the attendees “voted” to formally organize these activities and apply for a charter as a Chapter of the Health Physics Society. A steering committee consisting of J.W. Thomas, A.R. Maass, J. Lieberman, R.O. Gorson, and C.A. Pelletier was charged with this task. The name “Delaware Valley Society for Radiation Safety” was chosen at this meeting with the intention of changing this to Delaware Valley Chapter of the Health Physics Society upon acceptance as a chapter. The name was never changed for several reasons:

  1. The DVSRS became established before chapter status evolved.

  2. As the DVSRS, the group could speak out on matters relating to radiation control in its own name rather than as a HPS chapter.

  3. The bother of changing the DVSRS bank account was avoided.

A Constitution and By Laws were drawn and became effective December 10, 1959. They particularly provided for supporting members, interested persons who were not sufficiently active in radiation protection to become members of the National Health Physics Society. The DVSRS also continued its practice of inviting all interested persons to meetings regardless of whether or not they were dues paying members.

The DVSRS became a Chapter of the Health Physics Society in the Spring of 1960 with the original steering committee serving as the first Board. The first officers were: J.W. Thomas, President and A.R. Maass, Secretary-Treasurer.

Several activities of the early chapter years merit special mention:

  1. The DVSRS sponsored sessions at a number of Regional Fire and Safety Conferences which were annual events in Philadelphia.

  2. Bob Mantey organized and directed a course in radiation safety which was presented in conjunction with the Engineer’s Club in Philadelphia.

  3. Joint meetings were held with local chapters of the AAPM and the American Nuclear Society.

During the early Chapter years there were only a handful of individuals spending most of their time in radiation protection in the Delaware Valley. Today there are several organizations in the Delaware Valley with more Health Physicists on their staff than total DVSRS membership of the first chapter year.

John W. Thomas