Reunion events for the Medical Class of 1889 were held every five or ten years. The dinners for these events were held at such locations as the University Club, the Pennsylvania Hotel or the Racquet Club in Philadelphia. Side excursions took place to such destinations as historic Valley Forge (with a chicken and waffle supper on the porch of the Washington Inn), a visit to a naval vessel, or in later years, the country estate of Dr. Alfred Stengel.
The reunion dinners were always elaborate affairs. For example, the menu for the 1904 reunion offered such delights as caviar, clams, green turtle soup, beef tenderloin in madeira sauce, spinach croquettes, camembert, strawberries, cake and ice cream. Coffee was accompanied by cigars and cigarettes. Much drinking, singing and storytelling accompanied the elegant dinner. In 1934 the dinner events included a glass lantern slide presentation, probably made up of the 50 slides now preserved in the University Archives.
Attendance was generally high for these reunions. In 1899, 45 members of the class attended their Decennial Reunion held at the University Club on June 15, 1899, with Alfred Stengel presiding as toast master. And a total of 101 submitted written responses to the questionnaire distributed by the Reunion Committee. By 1934, the seventh reunion booklet noted that 30 had attended the 1929 reunion.
There were often significant reasons for nonattendance. Often classmates living in the western states or abroad sent messages to be conveyed at the gatherings. Others were in poor health or had died. Eight men had died within ten years of receiving their medical degrees. By 1934, 68 members of the class had died in the 65 years since graduation.
These booklets are an excellent source for information about individual members of the class and about the class generally. These booklets include the schedule of events, dinner menus for each reunion, lists of class members and histories and summaries of the class.
When members of the class answered surveys sent out by the reunion committee, their responses were added to the reunion booklet along with any available biographical information about class mates who had died since the previous reunion.
The biographies and questionnaire summaries cover the usual topics such as professional accomplishments, hobbies, sports, and numbers of grandchildren. Other interesting trivia may also be found, such as how many alumni abstain from alcohol, whether they prefer to visit their patients by horse or car or bicycle, and how much hair remained upon their heads.