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.

New Acquisitions: Nancy M. Kane Papers

By , September 9, 2019

Image courtesy of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of Dr. Nancy M. Kane, who recently retired from her role as a Professor of Management in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Kane has won numerous teaching awards, and supports case writing and advocates for teaching via the case method. She also directs the Master in Health Care Management Program, an executive leadership program created for mid-career physicians leading healthcare organizations, and teaches in Executive and Masters Degree programs in the areas of health care financial accounting and analysis, payment systems, and competitive strategy. Her research interests have included measuring hospital financial performance, quantifying community benefits and the value of tax exemption, the competitive structure and performance of hospital and insurance industries, nonprofit hospital governance, and the viability of safety-net providers.

The Nancy M. Kane papers, 1970-2018 (inclusive), which are not yet available for research, consist of teaching records, course records, case records, research in hospital finances and financial transparency, records relating to charity care and tax exemptions, US and state health reform records, health care regulation records, Safety Net records, and departmental administrative files.

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

Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibition Gallery Now Closed Until Spring 2021

By , August 21, 2019

Life cast and skull of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library

As of Wednesday, 8/21/2019, the Warren Anatomical Museum exhibition gallery will be closed until Spring 2021 to prepare for its redesign as part of the larger renovation of the Countway Library of Medicine. Throughout August, the exhibits will be taken down both for their protection during the upcoming construction and to allow for the curation of the next iteration of the Warren Anatomical Museum exhibition gallery.

Keep an eye out on the Center for the History Medicine news feed and the Countway Library website for updates on the renovation and ways you can give input on the next Warren Anatomical Museum gallery.

Center Launches New Landing Pages (Thank you, Allison!)

By , August 14, 2019

The Center for the History of Medicine is delighted to announce the dramatic redesign of its home and Warren Anatomical Museum pages. Center staff wish to collectively extend our thanks and gratitude to Allison Herrera, the Countway Library’s User Experience Researcher, for her many months of hard work on this project, which also includes a fantastic new landing page for the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Congratulations, Allison!

 

Screenshot of the Center’s new landing page

 

Screenshot of the Warren Anatomical Museum's new landing page

Screenshot of the Warren Anatomical Museum’s new landing page

Warren Anatomical Museum Gallery Temporarily Closing Until Spring 2021

By , August 14, 2019

Skull of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

This fall, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine will begin a multi-floor renovation requiring the temporary deinstallation of the Center for the History of Medicine’s Warren Anatomical Museum Gallery on the fifth floor. Throughout August, all of the artwork, artifacts, and specimens in the building are being taken down for their protection during construction. Plans are now underway to design and imagine the Gallery for its re-installation, including bringing new selections from the Museum’s rich holdings to the public Spring 2021.

The Warren Anatomical Museum will continue to offer educational sessions throughout the renovation and host a number of open houses during the fall and spring academic semesters. Please visit our event calendar this September for these limited-attendance programs. Also look for new content about Museum holdings on our new Museum landing page.

The last day to visit the Gallery and the skull of Phineas Gage is Tuesday, August 20, 2019.

 

Warren Museum’s Mystery Box Reveals a “Twilight” Story

By , July 25, 2019

Doctor’s Birthing Kit, circa 1910

Anesthesia history artifacts collected by Bert B. Hershenson, MD

Anesthesia history artifacts collected by Bert B. Hershenson, MD

This mysterious metal box filled with labeled glass bottles and anesthesia paraphernalia was one of the anesthesia history artifacts collected by Bert B. Hershenson, MD, Director of Anesthesia (1942–1956) at the Boston Lying-in Hospital (a Brigham and Women’s parent hospital). It was donated by Mrs. Hershenson to Harvard Medical School’s Warren Anatomical Museum in 1972 with no identifying information other than that it once belonged to a Viennese doctor “two generations ago.” A recent provenance investigation of the box and the objects inside, done here at the Center for the History of Medicine, indicated that the original owner was probably a turn-of-the-century obstetrician who may have been a practitioner of Dämmerschlaf or “Twilight Sleep.”

Picture of the March 7, 1915 Boston Sundat Post newspaper article, "Scores of Twilight Sleep Babies in Hub"

Boston Sunday Post, March 7, 1915. “Scores of Twilight Sleep Babies in Hub”

Twilight Sleep was introduced in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. A combination of morphine, to mitigate pain, and scopolamine to cause amnesia, was given by injection to women in labor. Its effectiveness in preventing pain was minimal. Its true effectiveness was in causing many women to forget the pain and the subsequent extreme, sometimes violent, behavior the drug combination often caused. In 1914, reports of “pain free” deliveries in Europe gave rise in the U.S. to the National Twilight Sleep Association, which successfully campaigned for the widespread adoption of the technique. However, in 1915 Mrs. Francis X. Carmody, a leader of the organization, died in childbirth. Although probably unrelated to the drugs, news of her death and subsequent safety concerns caused a fall from favor of Twilight Sleep in America and the end of the Association. Newer variations on the technique did continue through the 1960s until the advent of the natural childbirth movement.

Object list:

Metal box (for easy sterilization) from medical supply house Medicinisches Waarenhaus: Berlin

Esmarch type inhaler (style introduced in 1877). The wire mask covered by a cloth kept chloroform from touching the patient’s face.

Chloroform, a surgical anesthetic.

Erogotin, used to treat excessive bleeding and to speed up labor.

Camphor, traditionally used as a topical analgesic, or to control nausea.

Morphium, for pain relief.

Unidentified bottle, with the handwritten word “injection’ in German.

Dr. Vomel brand catgut, probably used for tying off the umbilical cord.

Warren Anatomical Museum Collection, Center for the History of Medicine
in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

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