Pride Month Collection Highlight: Ethel Collins Dunham and Martha May Eliot

By , June 8, 2018

Ethel Collins Dunham (right) and Martha May Eliot, 1915, Schlesinger Library

Ethel Collins Dunham and Martha May Eliot dedicated their lives and careers to the care of children. The pair met at Bryn Mawr College in 1910 and both women achieved major professional positions and research throughout their careers. They remained a couple until Dunham’s death in 1969.

Ethel Collins Dunham was born in 1883 in Hartford, Connecticut into a privileged family. She graduated from high school in 1901, and then spent several years traveling. She decided to pursue a career in medicine and enrolled in science classes at Hartford High School and graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1914. She began her medical training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1914 with Martha May Eliot.

Martha May Eliot was born in 1891 in Boston, Massachusetts to a Boston Brahmin family. She enrolled in Radcliffe, but after her first year, went to spend her sophomore year at Bryn Mawr College to pursue a “romantic friendship” with another girl. The relationship did not last, but Eliot met Ethel Dunham, and the two decided to pursue medicine together. Eliot graduated from Radcliffe in 1913, and when Dunham graduated in 1914, they entered Johns Hopkins Medical School together. The two lived together while at school, and attempted to get internships together at Johns Hopkins. Eliot turned down an offered internship at Johns Hopkins because Dunham was not accepted, and took an internship at Peter Brigham Hospital in Boston. Ironically, Dunham was ultimately accepted to Johns Hopkins Hospital. The next year they attempted to coordinate residency, but Eliot took a pediatrics residency at St Louis Children’s Hospital, while Dunham went to New Haven Hospital. The two were unable to reunite until Eliot was invited to be the first chief resident at Yale’s new department of pediatrics.

Both women remained at Yale for many years. Dunham was appointed instructor at Yale School of Medicine in 1920, promoted to assistant professor in 1924 and associate clinical professor in 1927. Eliot also rose through the ranks, serving as instructor, assistant, clinical professor, and then associate clinical professor from 1932 to 1935.

In 1935, Dunham was appointed chief of child development at the Children’s Bureau, where Eliot was appointed assistant chief. Dunham, whose specialty was in newborn babies, and in particular, premature babies, established national standards for the care of newborns. Meanwhile, Eliot was known for her contributions to the studies of rickets, and her public health approach to coordinating studies that established minimum daily vitamin requirements for children to prevent rickets.

Martha May Eliot

From 1949 to 1951, Dunham worked at the World Health Organization, studying premature birth in Geneva. When Eliot was appointed head of the Children’s Bureau in 1951, she and Dunham moved together to Washington, DC. Dunham retired in 1952, and when Eliot resigned in 1957, the women relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Eliot became the head of the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. After retiring in 1960, Eliot continued her work for the World Health Organization and UNICEF, reporting on medical education in Asia and Africa, while also teaching for the American Public Health Association.

Both women had highly decorated careers. In 1948, Eliot was the first woman elected president of the American Public Health Association and was awarded a Lasker Medal. In 1957, Dunham was awarded the John Howland Medal by the American Pediatric Society. She was the first woman to receive the award. Eliot was the second, and was honored in 1967. Eliot was also awarded the Sedgwick Memorial Medal in 1958 by the American Public Health Association (APHA), and in 1964, the APHA commemorated Eliot’s legacy by establishing the Martha May Eliot Award for outstanding service to maternal and child health.

Although Eliot and Dunham had great achievements throughout their careers, they were not strangers to discrimination and homophobia. Eliot, after graduating from Radcliffe College, applied to Harvard Medical School which did not admit women at the time, and both were attacked by Senator James Reed of Missouri in a tirade against the Children’s Bureau in 1921, when he called the bureau out as a place where “the only people capable of caring for babies and mothers of babies are ladies who have never had babies.” Neither woman’s New York Times obituary mentions their relationship, but their records, held at the Center for the History of Medicine and Schlesinger Library shed light onto their public and private lives, as well as their dual contributions to the field of maternal and child health.

For more information on the many contributions of Martha May Eliot and Ethel Collins Dunham, see:

The Archives for Women in Medicine is a program of the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, processes, preserves, provides access to, and publicizes the papers of women physicians, researchers, and medical administrators. Interested in learning more? Visit countway.harvard.edu/awm or contact Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua.

Center Receives Harvard Six Cities Study Research Data

By , June 4, 2018

Between 1974 and 1977, Harvard Six Cities Study researchers recruited residents who then completed questionnaires about their medical and occupational history, and underwent lung function (spirometry) tests. In this 1961 photo, a spirometer is demonstrated at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Respiratory Health Effects of Respirable Particles and Sulfur Oxides, commonly called the Harvard Six Cities Study, followed the respiratory health and air pollution exposure of children and adults living in six US communities between 1975 and 1988 (Harriman, Tennessee; Portage, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; Steubenville, Ohio; Topeka, Kansas; and Watertown, Massachusetts). Techniques were advanced to understand indoor, outdoor, and personal exposure to particles, acid aerosol, acid gases, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone, among other contaminants. Sponsors of the study included the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The results were stunning. Residents of Steubenville—the city with the dirtiest air among the six studied—were 26% more likely to die almost two years earlier than citizens of Portage, which boasted the cleanest air.  These results paved the way for the nation’s first-ever Clean Air Act regulations on particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter—rules that are now responsible for adding years to thousands of lives.

The historical narrative of the Six Cities Study has been relatively well-captured through numerous publications and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health documentation; however, the long-term custody and preservation of the research data itself had yet to be addressed.

In September 2016, archivists from the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library, met with faculty and researchers involved in the study to establish a plan, and in December 2016, custody of the data was transferred to the Center. Over the following six months, this large collection was rehoused, box listed, and cataloged. In addition to paper, Center staff discovered data in a variety of formats, including legacy media. Archivists also discovered photographs of researchers taking measurements in the field, background correspondence, and records relating to early precursor studies from one of the Harvard Six Cities Study’s early Principal Investigators, Benjamin Ferris.

Legacy media from the Harvard Six Cities Study being reviewed by archivists in June 2017.

In October 2017, after the physical transfer of the records had been completed, Center staff met again with faculty and researchers to better understand the types of data present in the collection and to determine how to facilitate future access. The group also discussed the various types of filters and media present in the collection to appraise their current research value.

Future collaborations are anticipated to help celebrate this significant study and its continued impact and relevance in today’s political climate.

The HOLLIS record relating to the Harvard Six Cities Study’s sponsored project administration records can be viewed here.The study’s original published findings (1993, NEJM) can be read online.

Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery closed Memorial Day, May 28th.

By , May 25, 2018

Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery, Collection of the Warren Anatomical Museum, 2010

The Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery will be closed on Memorial Day, May 28th. There will be no access to the Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, or the Countway Library of Medicine. More information can be found on the Countway Library website.

George Packer Berry Dean Records Open to Research

By , May 22, 2018
George Packer Berry

George Packer Berry

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the records of the Office of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, during the tenure of George Packer Berry from 1949 to 1965.

George Packer Berry (1898-1986) A.B., Princeton University, M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, came to Harvard Medical School from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, where he served as Head of the Department of Bacteriology and Associate Dean. As Dean of Harvard Medical School, Berry oversaw the development of the Harvard Medical Center in 1956, which brought Harvard Medical School and its affiliated teaching hospitals together under one corporate organization, and also served as the Center’s first President. The Program for Harvard Medicine was created in 1960 to raise funds for Harvard Medical School. In addition, Berry oversaw the development and construction of the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. He was President of the Association of American Medical Colleges (1951-1952) and earned the Association’s Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education in 1961. Berry was a trustee of both American University of Beirut and Princeton University.

George Packer Berry and Otto Krayer

George Packer Berry and Otto Krayer

The records of the Office of the Dean are the product of the activities of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, during the years 1949-1965 under the tenure of Dean Berry. Included are records from the administrative activities of the Office of the Dean, including administrative staff meetings, the planning and construction of Countway Library, and correspondence, reports, meeting records, and promotional materials for the Program for Harvard Medicine. Also included are records related to the Dean’s interactions with Harvard-affiliated hospitals and records from his tenure as a trustee of American University of Beirut, his tenure as Vice President and President of the Association of American Medical Colleges, as well as his roles as Director of the Commonwealth Fund and Director of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation. The collection includes records resulting from the activities of standing and ad hoc committees at Harvard Medical School and records of the interactions of the Office of the Dean with Harvard University offices, departments, and organizations.

The finding aid for the Office of the Dean of Harvard Medical School can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

Darwin DeForrest Douglas and the Government Contract

In 1862, surgeon general William Hammond convened a medical board to discuss the question of providing prosthetic limbs to Union soldiers who had undergone amputation after being wounded. The number of these men was increasing quickly and, if nothing else, Hammond wanted to get those who could be rehabilitated for military life back to the front. Men who would be demobilized back to civilian life also required support since a missing arm or leg could incapacitate a man who had been an active farmer or mechanic.

By the beginning of the Civil War, there were several well-known limb manufacturers in the United States, mostly along the Eastern seaboard. Benjamin Franklin Palmer had one of the first full-scale manufacturing plants and more than one of his workmen, including William Selpho, Douglas Bly, E.D. Hudson, Benjamin Jewett, and Darwin DeForrest Douglass, had gone on to create businesses of their own. The designs, including Palmer’s own, were mostly variations on a model that had been created in the early years of the nineteenth century in Britain for veterans of the Napoleonic wars. Arguments between makers were heated, however, as each tried to defend his own design as unique and, of course, better than the competition.

Hammond’s board asked several major limb manufacturers, including B.F. Palmer but not Douglass, to submit limbs for inspection. The board then planned to select the best and work out some plan whereby limbs and soldiers could be brought together. The main difficulties, it soon became clear, would be money and time: who was going to pay for the limb? and how much time should the soldier have to spend in getting it? Most limb manufacturers, including Palmer and Douglass, advised that limbs needed personal fitting — it wasn’t simply a matter of shipping off two dozen medium-size legs to a hospital and letting the staff hand them out.

The medical board never decided upon a single supplier and the Union government never signed a contract with a particular manufacturer for supplies of limbs. Instead, suppliers were given charge of particular geographic areas and soldiers in need of limbs were supposed to apply to their closest hospital. In practice, of course, this might mean a man would have to travel 200 miles roundtrip in order to get a limb — and the government stipend for prostheses did not cover travel or housing while waiting to be fitted or the multiple trips that might be necessary in order to adjust a new prosthesis properly.

Indeed, the stipend itself could be part of the problem. Since there was no official contract to control how much manufacturers could charge for a limb, just an unofficial “agreement,” several manufacturers, including Palmer and Selpho, were accused of price-gouging. Selpho, in fact, was firmly rebuked by Surgeon General Hammond more than once for taking money from soldiers over what was allowed by the government stipend.

Douglass, on the other hand, managed to benefit from the unofficial nature of the government arrangement without directly imposing on the soldier. Since there was no official government supplier, he argued that men coming to him to be fitted were simply exercising their freedom of choice in an open marketplace and the government should reimburse him as promised. However, it may also have been because he sold so few limbs in comparison to suppliers like Palmer, Selpho, and Jewett, that whatever price-fixing Douglass indulged in was not worth tracking down.

~For more, see Guy R. Hasegawa’s Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artifical Limbs (2012) and the D. DeForrest Douglass papers.

Roderick Heffron Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Roderick Heffron Papers, 1881-1977 (inclusive), 1923-1949 (bulk), are open to research.

Roderick Heffron (1901-1982) was a medical researcher and physician specializing in pneumonia. He was in born in Chicago, Illinois in 1901 and received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1928. Between 1931 and 1935, Heffron was field director of the Massachusetts Pneumonia Study and Service and, in 1936, he and Frederick T. Lord (1875-1941) co-authored Lobar Pneumonia and Serum Therapy based on the research of the Service. Heffron took a position at the Commonwealth Fund in 1937 and served on the Pneumonia Committee of the United States Public Health Service in 1939. He retired from the Commonwealth Fund in 1966. Heffron married Catherine Haman and died in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in 1983 at the age of 82.
The collection consists of records reflecting Heffron’s work in researching and writing on pneumonia, particularly his work on and the critical reception of the books published from the data gatherd during the Massachusetts Pneumonia Study on pneumonia and serum treatment. Included here are clippings of book reviews, correspondence with co-authors and other pneumonological specialists particularly George N. Papanicolaou (1883-1962), a Greek specialist in cytopathology, and collected reprints of research materials. The collection includes a small number of books collected by Heffron, many with annotations, marginalia, and insertions including newspaper and magazine clippings

Henry Pickering Bowditch Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Henry Pickering Bowditch papers, 1833-1961 (inclusive), 1860-1900 (bulk), are re-processed and open to research.

Henry Pickering Bowditch was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 4, 1840 to Lucy Orne Nichols (1816-1883) and Jonathan Ingersoll Bowditch (1806-1889). He entered Harvard College in 1857 and graduated in 1861 with a bachelor’s degree; he began studies at the Lawrence Scientific School in Cambridge the same year, but left to volunteer for the Union Army. Bowditch served as a cavalry officer until 1865 when he resigned his command and returned to the Lawrence Scientific School and Harvard Medical School. He received his M.D. in 1868 and travelled to Europe to study medicine. Bowditch studied in France and Germany between 1868 and 1871, eventually specializing in the study of physiology under the tutelage of Carl Ludwig (1816-1895) in Leipzig, Germany.

In 1871, Bowditch returned to the United States with his wife, Selma Knauth (1853-1918), and accepted an assistant professorship in physiology at Harvard Medical School. Bowditch established his first physiological laboratory in the old medical school building on North Grove Street in 1872. Bowditch accepted a promotion to full professor in 1876. In 1903, he was given the newly established George Higginson professorship in physiology. Bowditch taught at Harvard for 35 years, resigning in 1906.

Bowditch studied physiology throughout his teaching and research career, focusing on studies of the nerves and the cardiac muscles. He was interested in long-term growth studies and presented data from one of the first, on Boston schoolchildren, at a Boston Society of Medical Sciences meeting in 1872. Bowditch continued to work on comparative growth studies through the 1890s. He was an active pro-vivisectionist, campaigning in favor of animal experimentation in the 1890s when efforts were being made to restrict the use of laboratory animals. He was one of the founding members of the American Physiological Society in 1887 and served as the Society’s second president after S. Weir Mitchell. Bowditch was also on the first editorial board for the American Journal of Physiology when it was founded in 1898.

The collection consists mainly of correspondence but also includes family research records, personal papers including military records, and a small amount of writing and manuscript material.

Darwin DeForrest Douglas Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the D. DeForrest (Darwin DeForrest) Douglass papers, 1820-1901 (inclusive), 1850-1900 (bulk), are open to research.

Darwin DeForrest Douglas (1828-1902) was an entrepreneur and artificial limb designer and maker during the last half of the nineteenth century. He began as a workman for Benjamin Franklin Palmer (b. 1828) and left Palmer’s company to start his own. Palmer was one of the first makers of prosthetic limbs in the United States, working with a design that had been created in England after the Napoleonic Wars.

Douglass was never a major maker of artificial limbs and did not establish his own company. He continued to work on his leg design, refit old legs, and provide new ones until the 1890s.

The papers include correspondence and financial records that reflect Douglass’s personal and professional lives. Correspondence and bills relating to his wife, Susan, and daughter, Jennie Grace, are included here as well as correspondence relating to Douglass’s professional work as a prosthetist. Financial records include household, personal, and professional items such as sheet music (presumably for Jennie Grace Douglass who was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music), wood, paint, clothing, food (tea, sugar, flour, vegetables, meat, milk, etc.), as well as promissory notes, bills for rentals, gas, coal, and ice bills, and property tax records.

Register now! World War I: Reflections at the Centennial on May 30

By , May 8, 2018

 

Plan of No. 22 General Hospital drawn by Paul Dudley White (1886-1973), September 6, 1916. From the Paul Dudley White papers, 1870s-1987.     H MS c36. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

 

The Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, in partnership with its co-sponsors the Harvard Medical School Civilian-Military Collaborative and the Ackerman Program on Medicine & Culture, is pleased to announce the upcoming event World War I: Reflections at the Centennial with speakers James A. Schafer, Ph.D, and Jeffrey S. Reznick, Ph.D.

James A. Schafer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Houston, will present “The Mobilization of American Medicine for the First World War,” an examination of the causes and effects of the rapid recruitment of doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel (such as volunteer ambulance drivers) during the War. Drawing from Harvard University and other Boston area examples, Professor Schafer will measure the scope and scale of medical mobilization, explain the motivations for doctors, nurses and medical personnel to mobilize, and explore the immediate effects of mobilization on the careers and lives of American doctors, nurses, and medical personnel.

Jeffrey S. Reznick, Ph.D., Chief of the History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health, will present “A Prisoner of the Great War and his Songs in Captivity,” an exploration of the period when Rudolf Helmut Sauter (1895-1977)—the artist, writer, and nephew of the novelist John Galsworthy—was an internee in Alexandra Palace camp, north London, and Frith Hill, Surrey. Drawing on collections of the NLM, Imperial War Museum, and University of Birmingham, among other archives and libraries, Dr. Reznick will reveal how Sauter’s experiences open a unique window onto the history of the Great War both as Sauter experienced it and as he subsequently sought to forget it like so many other surviving members of the “generation of 1914.”

The event will take place on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 in the Minot Room, Countway Library, from 5:00-6:30. Registration is required.  Please visit our EventBrite page to register.

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