History of HCMS – Over 100 years of caring


Watch 100 years of Medicine and HCMS (video)

Beginning in 1903, with a membership of 65 physicians to more than 11,000 today, we have created a legacy of advocating and caring for physicians and their patients.

Throughout our history, we have worked to improve health care and medical standards in Harris County. One of our first actions was to advocate for the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners in 1907, creating the first standards for education, training and licensing of Texas physicians. Since then, we have held public health education campaigns for such diseases as polio and AIDS, advocated for legislation such as the Patient Protection Act, which stands as the most comprehensive managed care reform in the nation, and worked as a facilitator, bringing city and county health officials, hospital and emergency response officers together for public health and disaster preparedness meetings. These are just a few examples of how we have advocated for physicians and their patients.

We also founded the following organizations:

TMC Library   

In 1915, we formed the Houston Academy of Medicine (HAM) to create a medical library, ensuring physicians’ access to the latest medical and scientific advances. In 1949, the HAM Library moved to the Texas Medical Center (TMC) and merged its collection with the Baylor College of Medicine Library, establishing the HAM–TMC Library. It moved to the Jesse H. Jones Building in 1954 and nearly tripled in size in 1975, making it the largest medical library in the nation’s southwest. Today, the TMC Library is the fundamental starting point to access information resources, whether in print or digital format. It’s a trusted resource that teaches tools and techniques to sort through the millions of publications printed each year to find just the right ones that facilitate and support health sciences research, medical education and patient care.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center

In 1975, in cooperation with the regional blood banking community, we established the Blood Center because of frequent shortages in the blood supply. Today, the Blood Center is responsible for providing voluntarily-donated blood and blood components to patients treated in more than 200 healthcare institutions in a 24-county area in the Texas Gulf Coast area.

The John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science (The Health Museum)

We initiated plans for a health museum after a citizen’s committee recommended the construction of a permanent, public health exhibit in 1962. Through public contributions to the Victory Over Polio Campaign, a grant from the Houston Endowment Inc., and contributions from physicians, an exhibit area named the Museum of Medical Science was established in the Museum of Natural Science in 1969, which remained in operation until 1992. After years of planning and fundraising, the dream of a freestanding museum became a reality.

On March 16, 1996, we opened the Museum of Health & Medical Science, an interactive health and science center for all ages that promotes the understanding and appreciation of the human body, mind and spirit. It boasts the largest attendance of any health museum in the nation, serving more than 2.5 million people since its opening.