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.

 

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 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

Event Video Now Available: Human Tissue Ethics in Anatomy, Past and Present

By , July 25, 2019

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the recording of the April 4, 2019 symposium, Human Tissue Ethics in Anatomy, Past and Present: From Bodies to Tissues to Data, is now online. The symposium, which was co-sponsored by Harvard University’s Ackerman Program on Medicine and Culture, the Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library, Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and the Department of Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital, explored transparent and ethical anatomical body and tissue procurement as a cornerstone of medical ethics in research and education. Watch the Tissue Ethics symposium.

 

Symposium Contents

Panel 1: Human Tissue Ethics in Historical Contexts of Anatomy
Scott H. Podolsky, Harvard Medical School, Chair

  • Dominic W. Hall, Harvard Medical School: The Second Life of Specimens: Scientific and Historical Research in the Warren Anatomical Museum
  • Sabine Hildebrandt, Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital: Dealing with Legacies of Nazi Anatomy: the ‘Vienna Protocol’
  • Tinne Claes, Katholieke Universiteit: Why Is It So Difficult to Throw Away Fetuses? Anatomical Collections and the Meanings of Disposal
Speaker Sabine Hildebrandt presenting her talk, Dealing with Legacies of Nazi Anatomy: the ‘Vienna Protocol’

Speaker Sabine Hildebrandt giving her talk, Dealing with Legacies of Nazi Anatomy: the ‘Vienna Protocol’

 

Panel 2: Human Tissue Ethics in Current Anatomical Education and Research
Dan Wikler, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Chair

  • Thomas Champney, University of Miami: The Business of Bodies: Human Tissue Ethics and Commercialization
  • Michel Anteby, Boston University: Nested Moralities: From National to Intimate Cadaver Trades

 

Thomas Champney giving his talk, The Business of Bodies: Human Tissue Ethics and Commercialization

Thomas Champney giving his talk, The Business of Bodies: Human Tissue Ethics and Commercialization

 

Panel 3: Human Tissue Ethics from Physical Specimens to Data
David S. Jones, Harvard University, Chair

  • Maria Olejaz Tellerup, University of Copenhagen: The Anatomy of Bioavailability: Exploring Body Donation in Denmark Then, Now and in the Future
  • Jon Cornwall, University of Otago: The Impact of Digital Technology on Body Donation
The Anatomy of Bioavailability: Exploring Body Donation in Denmark Then, Now and in the Future

Maria Olejaz Tellerup giving her talk, The Anatomy of Bioavailability: Exploring Body Donation in Denmark Then, Now and in the Future

 

Edris Rice-Wray Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Edris Rice-Wray papers, 1937-1983 (inclusive), 1960-1970 (bulk) are now open to research.

Edris Rice-Wray was born in 1904 in New York City, New York and received her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1927. She went on to attend Northwestern University Medical School and receive her M.D. in 1932 with a focus on public health work.

In 1948, Rice-Wray went to Puerto Rico as a health district director. In 1950, she was appointed Director of the Public Health Training Center, a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Puerto Rico, and as Medical Director of the Puerto Rico Planned Parenthood. During her time in Puerto Rico, Rice-Wray collaborated with John Rock (1890-1984) and Gregory Pincus (1903-1967) on the trials of oral contraceptives on Puerto Rican women.

In 1957, Rice-Wray joined the World Health Organization and moved to Mexico to work as Medical Officer for Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In 1958 she founded and became the President of the Asociación Pro-Salud Maternal, the first family planning clinic in Mexico. She held this position until 1972 when she became Honorary President and Chief Technical Consultant for the Asociación. During the 1970s, she moved from Mexico City to Cholula in Puebla, Mexico, where she continued to work in reproductive medicine and held a teaching position at the University of the Americas Puebla.

Rice-Wray was married and had daughters. She died in 1990 in San Andres Cholula, Puebla, Mexico.

The collection consists of records created or collected by Edris Rice-Wray in the course of her career working with family planning institutions, primarily in Mexico including letters and enclosures from individuals and groups, including corporations, government offices, and academic institutions. Topics include conferences, professional visits to Rice-Wray’s Mexico City clinic, clinical trials of various types of contraceptives, the activities of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the politics of birth control in Mexico. Also included are records of publications Rice-Wray authored and co-authored in various stages of preparation, including final reprints.

Papers are in English and Spanish.

Wives of Aesculapius Records Now Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Wives of Aesculapius records, 1908-1989 (inclusive), 1920-1960 (bulk) are now open for research.

The Wives of Aesculapius was founded in 1910 as an adjunct organization to the Aesculapian Club, a student organization at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, since women were not accepted as members to the latter organization. The Wives existed as a separate association until 1972 when the two groups merged.

The Wives pursued activities similar to those of the Aesculapian Club including an annual dinner for the membership and extensive fund-raising activities for the benefit of Harvard Medical School students. The Wives were responsible for the foundation of a leisure reading collection on the medical school campus as well as providing furnishings for student spaces in Vanderbilt Hall. For many years, the Wives also produced a Spring Play, usually written, performed, and produced by members of the Wives.

Participation and interest in the Wives organization dropped steadily during the late 1950s and 1960s and the decision was made by the remaining members to disband and merge with the Aesculapian Club. The Wives formally ceased to exist as their own club in 1972.

The records reflect the formation, administration, and activities of the Wives, including records reflecting the initial organization and operation of the Wives, including correspondence, executive committee meeting minutes, lists of duties for officers, membership lists, and membership surveys. Also included here are records reflecting the social events sponsored by the Wives, primarily the “Spring Play,” which was usually written and performed by members of the group. There is also a small amount of memorabilia: three scrapbooks, unbound scrapbook pages, a rubber stamp, a seal, and a gavel.

George Cheever Shattuck Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the George Cheever Shattuck papers, 1822-1973 (inclusive), 1890-1972 (bulk), are open to research.

George Cheever Shattuck was born October 12, 1879. After completing his medical degree at Harvard Medical School in 1905, Shattuck embarked on a world tour and ended up stopping for several months to work with Richard P. Strong (1872-1948) at the latter’s laboratory in the Philippines. After his time in the Philippines, Shattuck undertook additional clinical training in Vienna, Austria, and then returned in 1908 to Harvard Medical School. When the Department of Tropical Medicine was formed at the Medical School in 1913, Shattuck was recruited as a faculty member.
In 1916, the American Red Cross organized a medical commission to travel to Serbia to assist Serbian physicians in controlling an epidemic of typhus. Shattuck, Richard P. Strong, Hans Zinsser, and A. Watson Sellards were all members. Shattuck was responsible for the examination of post-mortem evidence and performed numerous autopsies, collating the data for the commission’s final report, published in 1920. From 1917 to 1919, Shattuck served with the Harvard Surgical Unit embedded with the British Expeditionary Force; after the armistice that ended World War I, he served in Switzerland as General Medical Secretary of the League of Red Cross Societies.

Shattuck returned to Boston in 1921 as assistant professor of tropical medicine at Harvard Medical School and worked to establish a service for tropical medicine at Boston City Hospital. In 1924-1925, Shattuck accompanied the Hamilton Rice expedition to the upper Amazon in Brazil. He co-led a medical survey expedition with Richard P. Strong to Liberia and the Belgian Congo in 1926-1927. Between 1929 and 1932, Shattuck led three expeditions funded by the Carnegie Institute to identify health problems in the Yucatan and Guatemala.

The papers consist of records collected and created by George Cheever Shattuck during his lifetime and professional career as a specialist in tropical medicine. Series I consists of materials collected by Shattuck with reference to the genealogy and activities of the Shattuck family from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Series II consists of records reflecting Shattuck’s international medical work, including his trips through South America and Africa, and his work in Serbia with the American Red Cross expedition led by Richard P. Strong. Series III consists of materials related to Shattuck’s work as a writer, including the reports he produced in relation to the activities documented in Series II. Shattuck was also the author of a textbook on tropical diseases published in 1951 and multiple articles on the subject. Series IV consists of article reprints on a variety of medical topics, primarily physiological and embryological.

Announcing the 2019-2020 Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellow

By , July 2, 2019

The Archives for Women in Medicine and Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation are pleased to announce the 2019-2020 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow: Heather Munro Prescott, Ph.D.

Heather Munro Prescott, Ph.D. 2019-2020 Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellow

Heather Munro Prescott is Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. She specializes in the history of women in medicine and women’s health issues with an emphasis on the post-World War II era. Her first book, A Doctor of Their Own: The History of Adolescent Medicine, which drew on archival materials in the Countway Library and Boston Children’s Hospital, received the Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication from the New England Chapter, American Medical Writers Association. Her most recent book is The Morning After: A History of Emergency Contraception, published by Rutgers University Press in 2011. She has also published articles on the history of medicine in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, and Technology and Culture. She has also received numerous grants and awards, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Fellowship in the History of American Obstetrics and Gynecology, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and publication grants from the National Library of Medicine. Her Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellowship will be used to conduct archival research for a book on the cultural history of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.


The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation Fellowship is offered in partnership with the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation (formerly the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine). Information regarding the Fellowship program is available at http://www.wimlf.org/fellowships and https://www.countway.harvard.edu/chom/archives-women-medicine-fellowships.

The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation was founded with the strong belief that understanding our history plays a powerful role in shaping our future. The resolute stand women took to establish their place in these fields propels our vision forward. We serve as stewards to the stories from the past, and take pride in sharing them with the women of today. Our mission is to preserve and promote the history of women in medicine and the medical sciences, and we look forward to connecting you to our collective legacy that will empower our future.

A program of the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, the Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, preserves, promotes, and provides access to the professional and personal records of outstanding women leaders in medicine and the medical sciences.

A. Clifford Barger Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the A. Clifford Barger papers, 1803-1995 (inclusive) 1968-1995 (bulk) to researchers. The papers reflect the professional and personal work of Clifford Barger (1917-1996), a research physiologist who spent his career at Harvard Medical School. Barger’s research interests focused on the cardiovascular and renal systems; he was involved in research which did much to elucidate the mechanisms by which sufferers from certain cardiac disorders retain fluids.The papers reflect the personal and include correspondence; lectures; publications; administrative records relating to Barger’s activities as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School; records relating to Barger’s involvement with professional organizations, primarily the American Physiological Society and the Massachusetts Society for Medical Research; and audio-visual material, primarily films.

Clifford Barger was born in 1917 in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and entered Harvard University at age 18. During his senior year, he began to study muscle physiology in the Harvard Fatigue Laboratory and immediately after receiving his B.A. in 1939, he entered Harvard Medical School. His first medical internship, at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, was interrupted by World War II military service. Barger was an Army first lieutenant and worked at the Climatic Research Laboratory in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on the protection of soldiers in cold climates. Barger received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1943 during his military service. He returned to the Brigham at the end of the war and entered the Department of Physiology as a research fellow under Eugene M. Landis (1901-1987). Barger began teaching at the same time he held clinical appointments first at the Brigham and then at Children’s Hospital. Barger was promoted to a full professorship in physiology in 1961 and received the Robert Henry Pfeiffer Professorship in 1963. From 1974 to 1976, Barger served as chair of the Department of Physiology. Barger retired from Harvard Medical School in 1987.

Barger spent most of his research career investigating physiological questions involving the human heart and kidneys, including the processes of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and renovascular hypertension. He was among the first to describe the process by which certain nephrons in the kidney retain salt while those in a different part of the organ lose it, a process of critical importance to blood pressure and heart health. The initial research had been undertaken to try and explain why patients with congestive heart failure retain water and electrolytes. To help explain this, Barger studied the renin-angiotensin (sometimes also called the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone) system in the kidney. This system is part of the physiological mechanism for maintaining proper blood pressure and can work to compensate for some types of heart failure. Barger also investigated the physiology of coronary artery disease and the pathogenesis of the coronary arterial plaques; in this area, Barger worked to confirm previous results from pathologist Milton C. Winternitz (1885-1959).

From the 1960s on, Barger was involved in independent efforts by both Harvard Medical School and the American Physiological Society to recruit and retain minority students and faculty. He was named co-chair of the Porter Development Committee of the American Physiological Society in 1966; this committee distributed funds to support Porter Fellows, students from underrepresented communities studying physiology at institutions across the United States. Barger was also an enthusiastic historian of medicine and published articles on William T. Porter (1862-1949), founder of the Harvard Apparatus Company which funded the Porter Fellows, and Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945). Barger was co-author with Elin L. Wolfe and Saul Benison (1920-2006) of a two-volume biography of Cannon; the second volume was in preparation when Barger died in 1996 and was completed by his co-authors.

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