Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Center for the History of Family Medicine?

The Center for the History of Family Medicine (CHFM) is the primary repository of information and resources on the history and evolution of general practice, family practice and the specialty of family medicine in the United States.

As such, the Center fills three roles in one:

  • A historical research library, holding published works on family medicine as well as books by or about family physicians
  • An archive, serving as the official repository for both the records of the major family medicine organizations and leaders within the specialty
  • A museum, featuring artifacts and exhibits from the earliest days of general practice up to the present day's specialty of family medicine

What organizations are documented in the CHFM?

The CHFM serves as the official historical repository for the following Family Medicine organizations:

  • The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation (AAFP Foundation)
  • The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM)
  • The American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP)
  • The Association of Departments of Family Medicine (ADFM)
  • The Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors (AFMRD)
  • The North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG)
  • The Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM)

In addition, the CHFM collections document some of the smaller ancillary Family Medicine organizations, such as the Association of Family Medicine Administration (AFMA) and the Family Medicine Residency Nurses Association (FMRNA). The CHFM collections also document the Family Medicine Working Party and some international associations, such as the International Center for Family Medicine (ICFM) and the World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians/World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA).

Is the CHFM open to the public?

Yes, the CHFM is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday. Arrangements may be made to use CHFM's resources at other times by special appointment. We recommend that you call or email our staff first if you know you will be at AAFP headquarters. More information about using CHFM's collections.

Do you have a list or description of your collection holdings available?

Yes. You can access a free, downloadable and fully searchable PDF version of our catalog here(2 MB PDF)

The Guide features a complete listing of the Center's archival, library and museum holdings.

Does the CHFM accept donations of materials?

Yes, we accept donations of items from individuals and organizations related to family medicine, family physicians and family medicine leaders and educators. Please contact the CHFM before sending materials, to determine if they fit our scope of collection and to make arrangements for donation and transfer. More information about making a donation to the CHFM.

Does the CHFM offer any Fellowship or Internships?

Yes. The Center offers one $2,000 fellowship award annually in the history of family medicine. The award is open to all interested researchers and scholars in the specialty, regardless of academic status. For more details on our Fellowship Program, please see our Fellowship page.

In addition, the Center also sponsors one internship position annually with an emphasis in the history of family medicine. The position is open to all interested undergraduate and graduate students, with preference given to students majoring in history, library or information science, historical administration, or related field. For additional details, please see our Internship page.

When did Family Medicine become a specialty?

Family Medicine (then known as family practice) officially became a medical specialty in the United States on February 8, 1969, when the amended final application was approved by the Advisory Board for Medical Specialties and the AMA Council on Medical Education in Chicago. This approval empowered the American Board of Family Practice (now the American Board of Family Medicine) to conduct examinations and to grant certification to family physicians.

Where can I find a list of the founding dates of Family Medicine organizations?

Founding Dates of the Eight Major Family Medicine Organizations(1 page PDF).

Where can I find a summary of the history of Family Medicine?

The CHFM has several excellent resources on the history of family medicine.

If you need additional information on the history of family medicine, please contact the CHFM.

Which Family Medicine residency was the first one in operation?

This is a common, but difficult question to answer. Many residencies were established before family practice (now Family Medicine) was designated a medical specialty in 1969. Some were operating as general practice residencies, and then were converted to family practice once the "Essentials of an Approved Family Practice Residency" were in place.

In December 1968, a modified application for a primary certifying board in family practice was submitted to the Advisory Board for Medical Specialties and the AMA Council on Medical Education. As part of that application, 15 pilot residencies were listed that conformed to the new "Essentials." The 15 residencies listed on that application are generally considered to be the "first approved" family practice residencies. The First Fifteen Family Medicine Residency Programs(2 page PDF).

Where can I find a list of all of the AAFP Scientific Assemblies (now known as FMX-Family Medicine Experience)?

Scientific Assemblies of the American Academy of Family Physicians(2 page PDF) (2-page PDF file).


Access the CHFM Catalog

Take a look at the CHFM's free and fully searchable PDF catalog(2 MB PDF), Guide to the Collections of the Center for the History of Family Medicine

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