Meet the Staff: Stephanie Krauss

By , November 26, 2019

My name is Stephanie Krauss and I have learned so much since starting my job as a Reference Archivist in January 2019. As the reference archivist, I staff the reading room, work with researchers, and assist with exhibitions and events. Since I have started, I have learned a lot about the history of medicine’s intersections with society, specifically with feminism and race. The Center receives a myriad of questions regarding the history of family planning, as we have the papers of John Rock, Abraham Stone, and other physicians involved in the creation of birth control. Each question that comes in gives me an opportunity to learn something new about this important topic!

Additionally, I have really enjoyed working with our rare book collection. Having the opportunity to explore early medical text such as Vesalius and Avicena is such a unique experience. One highlight was when the Center hosted its annual Anatomy Day, gives which the whole Longwood community a chance to explore these early medical texts. I loved having the opportunity to talk to my colleagues and peers about these influential texts and drawings. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.
In my free time, I enjoy running and hiking. I am currently trying to hike all the 4,000 foot mountains in New Hampshire and visit all the United States national parks. I recently started trail running, and I am enjoying exploring trails in the Boston area.

I look forward to continuing to work with the faculty, staff, and students here at the Center for the History of Medicine.

Irene E. Kochevar Papers Open to Research

By , November 12, 2019
Headshot photograph of Irene E. Kochevar.

Irene E. Kochevar. Photograph courtesy of Kochevar.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Irene E. Kochevar papers, 1971-2015 (inclusive) are now open to research. Kochevar is Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School. The papers are the product of her career as Biochemist at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, as well as her consulting work, her patents, and her involvement in professional organizations. Kochevar’s work focuses on the effects of ultraviolet radiation on skin, and on photochemical tissue bonding.

Irene Emily (Hejl) Kochevar was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1943. She graduated from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, with a B.S. in biochemistry in 1965, an M.S. in biochemistry in 1967, and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1970. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at New York University, New York, New York, and a postdoctoral fellowship and Assistant Professorship at Columbia University, New York, New York, she was appointed Associate Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1981, with a simultaneous appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She earned the rank of Professor in 1999. Kochevar has received National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense grant awards for her research. She holds several patents for photochemical tissue bonding, a process that involves using ultraviolet light to activate a dye that stimulates cross-linking of proteins. This technique has been used to close skin incisions and to heal corneal injuries.

Shows dark background with textured golden brown shapes on top, from microscope image of cells

Micrograph slide image of cell sample from Kochevar’s research on activation of the Egr-1 gene

The bulk of the collection consists of grant applications from Kochevar’s many research projects at the Wellman Center. The collection also includes correspondence from her consulting work; research notes; patent applications; and photographs from her involvement with professional organizations and committees.

For more information about accessing this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

 

Checking in from the field: Donna Drucker

By , November 5, 2019

Guest Blogger Donna J. Drucker, MLS, PhD, Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2018–2019 New England Research Fellowship Consortium Fellow

Advertising Contraception in the 1970s and Beyond

Before the legalization of the hormonal pill, advertising of contraceptive methods to U.S. women in the 1930s and 1940s left much to the imagination. Even after the Supreme Court legalized the use of contraception as prescribed by physicians in November 1936, manufacturers mostly depicted the hands and arms of women preparing spermicides and diaphragms (http://www.technologystories.org/materializing-gender-through-contraceptive-technology-in-the-united-states-1930s-1940s/). At most, the instructional packaging would show a sketch of hands placing a diaphragm or spermicide applicator inside the woman’s body. Did the tone of advertising change after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill for contraceptive use in June 1960? Looking at examples available in the Countway Library of Medicine’s collections shows that manufacturers continued to advertise only to a limited group of women for decades afterward.

One example is the image used on a September 1970 flyer for Parke, Davis’s hormonal pill, Norlestrin.

Norlestrin, 1970

 The instructional booklet contained no images of women’s bodies, only images of women’s heads and hands with wedding rings prominently displayed. The woman on the front cover looks thoughtfully at a dandelion in her hands. When the FDA first approved the pill, its approval extended only to married women, and the instructional packaging reflected the company’s consciousness of that fact. Doctors could legally prescribe the pill only to married women until March 1972, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Eisenstadt v. Baird decision extended the right to privacy to unmarried people.

That conservative streak in advertising continued in commercial contraceptive product advertising long after Eisenstadt. The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (BWHBC) Subject Files contain multiple examples of such contraceptive advertising from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s. One of those was in a November 1979 instructional flyer for a Koromex diaphragm.

Koromex diaphragm, 1979

The flyer advertised the spermicidal jellies, creams, and foams that the Holland-Rantos Company recommended women use with the diaphragm. Two of the spermicide packages showed a young, white, blond woman smiling, and two others showed daffodils. A second late-1970s example was for VCF spermicidal film, known in the United Kingdom as C-Film, also depicted the head and hand of a young, white, blond woman. She holds a package of the film with a serious expression, but the film itself is not visible.

VCF spermicide, late 1970s

While spermicides are still available in the U.S. and are marketed for use with barrier methods, they never caught on as methods to use alone.

The last example from the BWHBC Subject Files is an empty package for a product called the Bikini Condom, which appears to have been designed by an Emory University professor of obstetrics and gynecology called Robert A. Hatcher in 1990–1991. In a letter to the company International Prophylactics, Inc. (IPI), Hatcher claimed that “it empowers women,” and that “it has a good future as a contraceptive.”

Bikini Condom, 1990

The package has two images: one of a smiling white brunette woman looking off into the distance and another of the bikini condom itself. IPI briefly manufactured it, but it never seems to have caught on more widely.

By examining these examples of contraceptive advertising for women, it seems that manufacturers only envisioned white, middle-class, well-groomed women using their products. Of course, contraception was a concern of anyone desiring to prevent a pregnancy and engaging in behavior where sperm and egg could meet, but neither major nor minor manufacturers included broader representations of potential customers on their packaging.

Donna may be based in Germany, but check into what she is working on via Twitter @histofsex

Apply now for a 2020-2021 New England Regional Fellowship!

By , November 1, 2019

The New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC) is now accepting applications for 2020-2021 research grants.

This collaboration of thirty major cultural agencies will offer at least twenty awards in 2020–2021. Each grant provides a stipend of $5,000 for a minimum of eight weeks of research at three or more participating institutions beginning June 1, 2020, and ending May 31, 2021. The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine and its Center for the History of Medicine is a NERFC member. Visit the NERFC website for more information and list of participating institutions.

Special award in 2020–2021: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts will underwrite a project on the history of New England before the American Revolution.

Application Process: All applications must be completed using the online form.

Deadline: February 1, 2020

Questions: Contact the Massachusetts Historical Society:
Phone at 617-646-0577 or Email fellowships@masshist.org

Apply Now for a 2020-2021 Boston Medical Library Fellowship!

By , November 1, 2019

Feldtbuch der Wundtartzney
(Gersdorff, Hans von, -1529. / Strassburg, Durch Joannem Schott, 1517) f RD151.G32 Boston Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Since 2003, the Boston Medical Library (BML) in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine has sponsored annual fellowships supporting research in the history of medicine using Center for the History of Medicine collections. BML Fellowships in the History of Medicine at the Countway provide stipends of up to $5,000 to support travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for a flexible period between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Besides conducting research, the fellow will submit a report on the results of his/her residency and may be asked to present a seminar or lecture at the Countway Library.

The collections of the Center for the History of Medicine enable researchers to contextualize, understand, and contribute to the history of human health care, scientific medical development, and public health; they reflect nearly every medical and public health discipline, including anatomy, anesthesiology, cardiology, dentistry, internal medicine, medical jurisprudence, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pharmacy and pharmacology, psychiatry and psychology, and surgery, as well as variety of popular medicine topics and public health subjects such as industrial hygiene, nutrition, and tropical medicine. The Center serves as the institutional archives for the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health, and is home to the Warren Anatomical Museum, which includes anatomical artifacts, pathological specimens, instruments, and other objects. Through the Center, researchers have the opportunity to use the rich historical resources of both the Harvard Medical Library and Boston Medical Library.

Fellowship proposals (no more than 5 pages) should describe the research project and demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic.
Applications should include:
• CV
• Length of visit
• Proposed budget and budget breakdown (travel, lodging, incidentals)
• Two letters of recommendation are also required

Electronic submissions of materials may be sent to: chm@hms.harvard.edu

Boston Medical Library Fellowships
Center for the History of Medicine
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
10 Shattuck Street
Boston, MA 02115.

Application deadline is Friday, February 14th.

Please see our website for more information and details about previous research recipients. Awards will be announced in early April.

Center hires new Processing Archivist

By , September 24, 2019

We’re delighted to announce that Charlotte Lellman has joined the Center for the History of Medicine staff as our new Processing Archivist. In this role Charlotte will arrange and describe manuscript collections and archival records at the Center to ensure their accessibility, preservation, discovery, and use. She will also assist in the ongoing development and refinement of local processing and description practices, and contribute to the Center’s culture of evaluation by maintaining processing metrics and project documentation.

Charlotte’s previous work includes processing collections at The Mary Baker Eddy Library, providing reference services at the gallery of the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center, and serving as a research assistant on an eighteenth century French police archives database project at Haverford College. Charlotte also has previous experience at the Center: in 2018, she processed the Elinor Kamath papers as a Simmons College intern, and in 2017 she worked on a wet specimen data entry project for the Warren Anatomical Museum.

Charlotte holds an M.S. in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives Management from Simmons College, and a B.A. in French Language and Literature from Haverford College.

Her first project is to process the Irene E. Kochevar papers, 1976-2012 (inclusive), which is currently underway. Please join us in offering Charlotte a warm welcome!

 

Warren Anatomical Museum Drawing in “Visual Science: The Art of Research” exhibition

By , September 19, 2019

Transverse section of pig embryo at 12 mm, facing, 1903, Warren Anatomical Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

On September 20, 2019 Harvard’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments will be opening an exhibition entitled “Visual Science: The Art of Research.” The exhibition, which features images and objects drawn from a variety of disciplines and time periods that show the importance of visual experiences in science, displays a reproduction of a Warren Anatomical Museum drawing of a pig embryo created in 1903. “Visual Science” is open Sunday – Fridays, 11am–4pm, in the 2nd floor gallery of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.

 Harvard Medical School illustrator Florence Byrnes created the original drawing of a transverse section of a pig embryo at 12 mm for Harvard Medical School Professor of Histology and Human Embryology Charles Sedgwick Minot’s 1903 Laboratory Textbook of Embryology. Three other original works by Byrnes of this same pig embryo were also printed in Minot’s textbook.

To make the drawing, Byrnes collaborated with Frederic T. Lewis, then an Instructor in Histology and Embryology. It is a reconstruction derived from hundreds of transverse sections prepared by Lewis. Outlines of individual sections were drawn through a microscope and camera lucida, measured, and compiled into the scale reconstruction by Byrnes. The shading was in part derived from a wax model reconstructed from the embryo sections. Minot believed that reconstructions such as these were highly advantageous in teaching given the very small scale of the original specimens. Despite Minot stating that two of Byrnes’s drawings, including this transverse section of a pig embryo, demonstrated “a special degree of skill and considerable faculty of plastic imagination,” he did not highlight Byrnes as the artist anywhere in the text outside of her signature on the drawings, choosing rather to focus on the histological contribution of Lewis.

History of the Boston Floating Hospital with Daniel Bird, Thursday, September 19

By , September 18, 2019
The Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, invites you to attend the first lecture of the Fall 2019 Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine: History of the Boston Floating Hospital with Daniel Bird, Historian, Tufts Medical Center
Old photograph of a child leaning through a Boston Floating Hospital life preserver

Child leaning through a Boston Floating Hospital life preserver

4:00-5:30 PM, Lahey Room, 5th Floor, Countway Library
10 Shattuck St., Boston, MA 02115
No RSVP is required

For more information, contact David G. Satin, MD, Colloquium Director
david_satin@hms.harvard.edu

New Acquisitions: Thomas J. Smith Papers

By , September 16, 2019

Image courtesy of Harvard University Center for the Environment.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of Dr. Thomas Jay Smith, Professor of Industrial Hygiene Emeritus at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, formerly known as the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Dr. Smith was Professor of Environmental Health at HSPH from 1977 to 1985 and 1993 to 2012; he directed the Industrial Hygiene Program at HSPH from 1993 to 2011. He also taught at University of Massachusetts Medical School from 1980 to 1985 and directed their Division of Environmental Health from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on how to best characterize environmental exposures for studies of health effects. He collaborated with epidemiologists and toxicologists to analyze exposures to several agents, including sulfur dioxide, silicon carbide dust, gasoline vapors, glass and mineral fibers, arsenic, and diesel exhaust.

The Thomas Jay Smith papers, 1972-2017 (inclusive), which are not yet available for research, consist of notebooks, project files, reports, research, conference records, lectures, and manuscripts related to occupational health.

For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

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