AHIMA has prided itself on forward-thinking, relevant, and interesting conventions for 90 years. This slideshow offers a selection of unique convention educational sessions pulled from historical event programs in honor of AHIMA’s 90th Convention and Exhibit, taking place September 22 to September 26 in Miami, FL.  



In 1933 the Fifth Annual Conference of the Association of Record Librarians of North America was held in the historic Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, IL—home to numerous association conventions. To read the convention program is to watch a young organization grow its sea legs. There were opening presentations by the ARLNA president, Alice G. Kirkland, and the organization’s founder, Grace Whiting Myers, who at that time was librarian emeritus at Massachusetts General Hospital, and ARLNA’s honorary president. The afternoon session on the second day of the meeting focused on writing for publications. One session was called “How to Write an Interesting Article,” in a presentation given by the editor of Hospital Management. Editors from Modern Hospital and Hospital Progress also spoke. There also were sessions you might find at a modern AHIMA convention, such as one called “Are We Improving Cancer Records?” and “The Importance of Accurate and Complete Records on Fracture Cases.”

Number of pages in the program: 4



Three years later, the 1936 annual conference was held in Philadelphia, PA at the Warwick Hotel. Notable programming was a series of presentations talking about the medical record departments in a variety of hospital types. The series was called: “Some Problems and Achievements in Conducting the Medical Records Department in: The University Hospital, The County Hospital, The Small Special Hospital, and The General Hospital.” The next day, in conjunction with the American College of Surgeons, the Medical Record Librarians of Philadelphia performed “a complete dramatization of medical records work in the hospital” in a presentation called “A Drama of Records.”


Number of pages in the program: 4



The annual convention of the American Association of Medical Record Librarians was cancelled in 1942 on account of the nation’s involvement in World War II. The war affected the entire country, and public health and the handling of medical records were no exception. Throughout the war, sessions at state and national conferences of medical record librarians included topics such as “Short Cuts to Medical Records During the War Emergency,” “Approved vs. Unapproved Short Cuts as War-time Measures in Record Rooms,” and “Medical Records Administration in the Navy,” according to the Journal of AHIMA.



Although it was not an annual convention for members, the Institute for Medical Record Librarians was held in Chicago, IL at the Knickerbocker Hotel in 1945. This was an opportunity for medical record librarians and medical librarian students to learn more fundamentals of the profession. The stated purpose of the Institute, which acknowledged a shortage of certified professionals, “is to present in concentrated form a basic and elementary course by competent leaders in the field.” World War II impacted the organization in several ways, and one of them is evident from the brochure for this 1945 Institute. In the housing information, the pamphlet notes that due to “wartime conditions” attendees weren’t allowed to have single rooms. All attendees were required to bring their own copy of the 1942 “Standard Nomenclature of Disease and Operations.” Educational sessions included: “Medico-legal Aspects of Records,” “Medical Ethics,” “Inter Departmental Relationships.”

Number of pages in brochure: 10



The 1969 American Association of Medical Record Librarians Annual Meeting and Exhibit was held at the New York Hilton, in New York City, NY. The theme was “Professional Growth Through Involvement: The Challenge of Change.” Like countless annual conventions before it organizers offered local hospital and medical records room tours for conventioneers, but this convention offered no fewer than tours of 10 hospitals. Educational programming at this event reflects prior conventions, but it’s notable that the final day of educational sessions was dedicated to the field of mental health. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of exhibitors and advertisers in the program guide were for products that assisted with dictation and helping “medical typists.” This slide features an advertisement for a vendor-sponsored after party held every evening of the convention.

Number of pages in program: 34



The 46th annual convention in 1974 was held in the unofficial capital of American hippie-dom and counterculture—San Francisco, CA. The theme was “Action, Accountability, and Acceptance,” and SNOMED CT was the new medical nomenclature on the scene. A look at the educational sessions prove that despite technological advances, some healthcare problems don’t change. To wit, a session called “The Changing Picture of Ambulatory Care” promised a discussion about the transfer of a patient’s medical records from the hospital to the health center. “Delivery of outpatient and inpatient care cannot be effective if it is fragmented,” the session description stated. Also, the full-page advertisement inside the back cover of the convention program, with the tagline “Why mix medicine with paperwork?” proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Number of pages in program: 48



Attendees of the 72nd annual convention and exhibit in AHIMA’s hometown in 2000 had survived the Y2K non-event and were busy preparing for the eventual implementation of HIPAA. Convention planners by this time were open to hosting keynote speakers from people outside of the HIM or even healthcare field. Elizabeth Dole, a former US Senator and veteran of five presidential administrations, spoke at that Monday’s General Session. Willard Scott, best known for being the weatherman on NBC’s The Today Show, gave a speech on leadership at Tuesday’s General Session.

Number of pages in program: 23



The 83rd Annual Convention and Exhibit, held in Salt Lake City, UT in 2011, came at a time when HIM professionals were quickly trying to learn how to comply with several new federal healthcare mandates. Meaningful Use, HITECH, and ARRA were in full swing as providers and operators waited to see how the Supreme Court would rule on the biggest parts of the Affordable Care Act. And, of course, ICD-10 was thought to be right around the corner (though it wouldn’t be implemented until 2015). Keynote speakers of note included New York Times columnist Gail Collins, Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, and Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Number of pages in program: 158

1 Comment

  1. thank you for this great slideshow. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane….

Comments are closed.