Charles deT. Shivers, MD
Charles H. deT. Shivers was born in 1887 in Haddonfield New Jersey. His education began at Haddonfield Friends school and then Penn Charter high school. He went on to the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn medical school in 1913. His father, also named Charles Shivers, was a prominent physician, both in Haddonfield and Atlantic City for over 60 years.
After doing an internship at Saint Timothy’s hospital in Philadelphia, young Dr. Shivers began a private practice in Atlantic City. He developed an interest in the study of venereal diseases and was appointed an instructor in syphilology and then became an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Medicine at Penn in 1916. Very shortly after, he was activated into the Armed Forces and appointed Chief of Urology at Camp Fort Dix, where he served throughout World War I. After leaving the medical military service in 1918 with the rank of major, he returned to Atlantic City to practice.
His evolution from a venereologist to urologist is reflected in his published works. Shivers wrote several articles on syphilis in the 1920s, while his published works - mostly in the Journal of Urology - from the 1930s to 1950s are on topics such as BPH and bladder tumors. He received his board certification in the initial year of the American Board of Urology: 1935. Dr. Shivers served as Chief of Urology at Atlantic City Hospital for over 30 years.
He was involved in the Mid-Atlantic (MA) Section of the AUA since its inception in 1941 and was on its first executive committee. Shivers was the fourth president of the MA-AUA and finished his term in 1946. He is one of only of two section presidents to have served for two years due to not having meetings during World War II.
Dr. Shivers was on the Executive Committee of the AUA from 1936 to 1937 as a representative of the old North Atlantic section, then Secretary of the AUA from 1949 to 1954 and named President of the AUA in 1957. He is the only AUA President from the Mid-Atlantic section from north of the Mason-Dixon Line and one of only two presidents from New Jersey. He spent a total of 10 years on the Executive Committee of the AUA, initially as Secretary and finishing up as Past President in 1958.
His tenure was quite interesting and was marked by scandal, controversy, and the growth of the AUA as an organization.
Dr. Shivers succeeded Dr. Thomas Moore of Memphis as the Secretary of the AUA in 1950, as Dr. Moore became AUA President in 1951. As outlined in the referenced Bloom et. al. paper, the AUA’s “home office” was the home office of the current AUA’s Secretary and had been since its founding in 1902. But the AUA was growing rapidly, so Dr. Moore, then AUA Secretary, hired the first assistant secretary for the organization, Dorothye Nyquist, in 1942. She served for many years but, by the time Dr. Shivers became Secretary in 1950 and rented a separate office for Miss Nyquist in Atlantic City, there was a growing consensus that the AUA needed a central headquarters independent of the Secretary.
In 1952 the scandal occurred when Miss Nyquist abruptly resigned her post.
Dr. Shivers, as Secretary, initially announced that Miss Nyquist had resigned due to injury from falling off a horse. However, in a further newsletter, Dr. Shivers revealed that, in fact, the reason for the resignation was that she was marrying the recently-divorced Dr. Thomas Moore, and they were leaving shortly on the Queen Mary for a honeymoon. Shivers was graceful in his newsletter, thanking her for loyalty to the AUA and noting, “Our loss is Dr. Thomas Moore’s gain…We wish them ’Bon Voyage’ and many years of happiness.”
AUA Headquarters on Charles Street in Baltimore, Maryland
This event accelerated the plan to have a full-time Executive Secretary. Mr. William Didusch agreed to expand his job to Executive Secretary at the AUA only under the condition that the central office be in Baltimore where he lived. The AUA settled on rented space in the former Hugh Hampton Young home at 1120 N. Charles St., Baltimore. In 1953 in a letter to the membership, Dr. Shivers noted that “the AUA now has an organization that can function more efficiently for….future secretaries.
As noted in the American Urologic Association Centennial History, Dr. Shivers’ presidential year of 1957 was a pivotal one. The AUA had never been incorporated. The IRS was investigating tax returns of such organizations with possible tax liability being incurred back to 1912. Dr. Shivers had to call an emergency meeting of the membership. Shortly thereafter, in June 1957, the AUA was officially incorporated in the state of Missouri. It was another crisis averted under the watchful eye of Dr. Shivers and the AUA Executive Committee. The rest of his meeting in Pittsburgh in 1957 was excellent academically and the most outstanding paper was presented by Hartwell Harrison and Dr. Joseph Murray on the first renal transplant between identical twins!
Dr. Shivers contributed one more major service to the AUA in 1958 when he was asked to address the so-called ”splinter group” controversy of the AUA. The Centennial History notes, “in social organizations, just as in embryology, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Just as Urology split from Surgery at the turn of the last century, it was Pediatric Urology’s destiny to have its own educational subunit. But who in Urology could’ve known that in 1958?
Dr. Bicknell’s biography in the previous Didusch newsletter presents a nice overview of the evolution of Pediatric Urology as an organization, but behind the scenes it was a much more heated discussion over several years between the AUA as an organization and the forefathers of organized Pediatric Urology, such as Drs. Bicknell, Spence and Lattimer. Shivers and his group conducted an extensive inquiry. They discussed the politics of exclusivity with 12 other specialty societies and wrote many of the interested members for their side of the story. A formal report was given by Dr. Shivers to the AUA Executive Committee in April 1959. His committee was not in favor of any urology subspecialty society having a limited or closed meeting not open to all at the annual meeting of the AUA. Their report was accepted unanimously by the Executive Committee, but it took several years after that for the AUA and the Society of Pediatric Urology to work cohesively together. Just like Urology 50 years earlier, Pediatric Urology needed its own organization.
This concluded Dr. Shivers’ long contribution to the AUA’s organization. He continued to practice urology well into his 70s. He did not ask for senior membership in the AUA until 1965. He passed away in 1969 in his beloved Atlantic City. I have attached his letter to the membership about the annual meeting and his presidential address on the significance of the Secretary of the AUA for additional reading on this interesting era in the AUA’s history.
- Jones LW, et al. American Urological Association Centennial History: 1902 to 2002, pp.27-31, 35-36, 546-547, 648-651, 783-786.
- Dr. Charles Shivers obituary Philadelphia Inquirer 4/29/1969.
- Obituary read at AUA annual meeting, 1970.
- Ancestry.com - Dr.Charles deT.Shivers, MD.
- Bloom, D. et al. Evolution of Surgical Professional Organizations: A Case Study of Thomas Moore, Graceland, and the American Urological Association, Urology:107: 82-84.
- S. Patel and D. Bloom, The Scope of Urology newsletter, Issue 11, Fall 2022.
- Smith, V. Fifty Glorious Years, Mid-Atlantic section, American Urological Association, 1941 to 1991, pp 6-13.
- Shivers, Charles H. deT. Journal of Urology:79:1-5.
- Shivers, CH. Archives of Dermatology:1930:9/1/30
- Shivers, CH deT. Journal of Urology:78:780-781
- Shivers, CH deT. Letter to the Members from the President December 1956: AUA Archives.
Graceland from Memphis Magazine
Graceland was once part of a 500-acre farm that was owned by the S.E. Toof family. Part of the family for generations, the farmland was named after one of the female relatives, Grace. According to Graceland history, in 1939, Grace's niece, Ruth Brown Moore and her husband, Dr. Thomas Moore, built the mansion, which became well-known to the locals of Memphis. The Moore's daughter, Ruth Marie, was musically accomplished and became a harpist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Classical recitals in the front formal rooms were common, just as rock 'n' roll and gospel jam sessions would be common after the next owner moved in.
In the spring of 1957, when Elvis Presley was 22, he purchased the home and grounds for just over $100,000.
Louis L. Keeler, lll, MD
Louis L. Keeler, Jr., MD