The Medical History Society of New Jersey was founded on 7 May 1980, largely through the efforts of Dr. Morris H. Saffron (1905-1993), noted medical historian and practicing dermatologist. Our goal is to promote interest, research, and writing in medical history, and we are dedicated to the discussion and enjoyment of the history of medicine and allied fields. Dinner meetings are held twice a year, in May and October, at the Nassau Club in Princeton. These semi-annual programs consist of a short business meeting followed by several talks on a variety of subjects, and then either the Saffron or Kent Lectures.
The Saffron Lecture is given each May by the nation's most prominent medical historians. Past Saffron Lecturers include Genevieve Miller, Lloyd Stevenson, Harry Dowling, Whitfield Bell, Lester King, Gert Brieger, Ynez O'Neill, Kenneth Ludmerer, Gerald Geison, Gerald Grob, David Cowen, Michael Bliss, Charles Rosenberg, Barron Lerner, Naomi Rogers, and David Oshinsky.
Every October the Donald F. Kent Memorial Lecture, a continuation of the corporate (1993 - 1999), Society (2000 - 2001), Foundation (2002 - 2010) and Friends of the Society (2011 - 2012) Lecture series, features scholars such as past presenters David Kohn, Donald Blaufox, Ira Rutkow, Susan Lederer, Renee Fox, Steven Peitzman, Vincent Cirillo, Alan Kraut, Edward Morman, Lisa Rosner, Burt Hansen, and James Tait Goodrich.
Each May The David L. Cowen Award is given for outstanding achievement in the field of medical history. Past recipients are David Cowen (2001), Francis Chinard (2002), Karen Reeds (2003), Allen Weisse (2004), Vincent Cirillo (2005), William Helfand (2006), Gerald Grob (2007), Wolfgang Jöchle (2008), Sandra Moss (2009), Michael Nevins (2010), Frederick Skvara (2011), George Hill (2012; delayed to 2013), Kenneth Swan (2014), Frank Katz (2015), No Award (2016 & 2017), and William Campbell (2018).
The Lunar Society, a subgroup of the MHSNJ that meets at irregular intervals throughout the year, was inaugurated on February 6, 2013 at the Rutgers Faculty Club in New Brunswick. The format mimics that of the more formal semi-annual meetings: lectures, discussions, food, and good fellowship.