Founded on Christmas Eve in 1789 by a group of private practice physicians in Charleston, the Medical Society of South Carolina (MSSC) is the fourth oldest medical society in existence.
In its early years, the Society was concerned with a wide range of medical and scientific matters: the Society established Shirra's Dispensary for Indigents in 1800; functioned as a board of health for Charleston until the City established a board in 1808; served as a Licensing Board for physicians and apothecaries; and, in the 1840s, helped found the South Carolina Medical Association as well as the American Medical Association.
Medical education has always been an important part of the history of the Society. In 1824, the Society founded the Medical College of South Carolina (today known as the Medical University of South Carolina) for teaching and research. In 1852, with a bequest from the will of Col. Thomas Roper, the Society established Roper Hospital "to treat all sick and injured people without regard to complexion, religion, or nation." In addition to caring for patients, Roper Hospital also served as a teaching facility for the medical students being trained by Society physicians and the Medical College.
The minutes of the Society's meetings over the past two hundred years reflect the history of Charleston, telling of trying times as its members fought epidemics of yellow fever, cholera and smallpox; left their practices to enlist in military service in every war beginning with the War between the States; helped with the injured and wounded after Charleston's Great Fire and the earthquake in the mid-1800s; and struggled throughout to ensure quality care and to offer medical education.
In 1951, the Medical Society formally relinquished its charter as a component of the SC Medical Association and turned its attention to the management and development of Roper Hospital. In the past decade, the Society has guided Roper through the most expansive growth in its history with one single purpose in mind - the delivery of the highest quality healthcare in the most affordable and accessible manner possible.