“Whatever You Are, Be a Good One”: Osteopathic Identity, Equality, and the California Merger

Hayley W. Ryan, OMS II
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: October 29, 2010

Accepted: February 3, 2011

Published: May 1, 2011

J Osteopath Med; 111(5): 339-343

In the early 1960s, Dorothy Marsh, DO, then president of the California Osteopathic Association, ardently promoted an amalgamation with the California Medical Association that would eliminate the doctorate of osteopathy (ie, DO) degree and grant medical doctor (MD) degrees to DO holders. Marsh traveled extensively throughout California in an effort to gain support for the merger, which passed in spring 1961. The osteopathic medical community tends to view the California merger as a dark period in history of the profession, a devastating loss of members and facilities. Yet, on the day it was signed, Marsh called the event a “historic achievement in the field of osteopathy.” Using primary documents from the Dorothy Marsh Collection at the University of California, Los Angeles, the author attempts to understand the reasons why an osteopathic physician would fight so passionately to abandon her own professional identity. These documents shed light on Marsh’s motivations and the perspectives of merger supporters and opponents during this period.

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