Announcing a new exhibit on the history of women at Harvard Medical School

By , March 7, 2017

A Brief History of Women at Harvard Medical School

“A Brief History of Women at Harvard Medical School” is now on display on Countway Library’s 2nd floor next to the Joint Committee on the Status of Women library collection.

The exhibit, curated by Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, explores the history of women in medicine at Harvard Medical School. It begins with the story of Harriot Kezia Hunt, Harvard’s first woman applicant, and follows the struggles and triumphs of Harvard Medical School’s first women instructors, researchers, professors, and students, as well as the creation of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women and the Archives for Women in Medicine.

An extended digital version of the exhibit is available via OnView.


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.

 

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2017-2018 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship: Applications Open

By , February 15, 2017

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Research Fellowship

Deadline May 15, 2017

Details

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine is pleased to provide one $5,000 grant to support travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for a flexible research period between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Foundation Fellowships are offered for research related to the history of women to be conducted at the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Preference will be given to:

  • projects that engage specifically with the history of women physicians, other health workers or medical scientists; however, proposals on the history of women’s health issues will also be considered
  • those who are using collections from the Center’s Archives for Women in Medicine, but research on the topic of women in medicine using other material from the Countway Library will be considered
  • applicants who live beyond commuting distance of the Countway; however, all are encouraged to apply, including graduate students

In return, the Foundation requests a one page report on the Fellow’s research experience; a copy of the final product (with the ability to post excerpts from the paper/project); and a photo and bio of the Fellow for web and newsletter announcements. The Fellow will also be asked to present a lecture at the Countway Library.

Application Requirements

Applicants should submit a proposal (no more than five pages) outlining the subject and objectives of the research project, length of residence, historical materials to be used, and a project budget (including travel, lodging, and research expenses), along with a curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendations by May 15, 2017. The fellowship proposal should demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic.

Applications should be sent to: The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship, Archives for Women in Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, 10 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115. Electronic submissions of applications and supporting materials and any questions may be directed to chm@hms.harvard.edu or (617) 432-2170.

 

Partnering Organizations

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine, soon to be 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.

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. Learn more about collections open to research on our Archives for Women in Medicine Collections page.

Established in 1960 as a result of an alliance between the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical Library, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is the largest academic medical library in the United States. The Countway Library maintains a collection of approximately 700,000 volumes. The Center for the History of Medicine’s collection of archives and manuscripts, numbering between 15-20 million items, is the largest collection of its kind in the United States. The manuscripts collection includes the personal and professional records of physicians from the medieval and Renaissance periods through the twentieth century, including the professional papers of many renowned Harvard faculty members as well as physicians and scientists from New England and around the country.

The 2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Research Fellow is Kate Grauvogel, due to conduct research at Countway in June 2017. Previous fellows include Louella McCarthy, Rebecca Kluchin, Ciara Breathnach, Carrie Adkins, and Hilary Aquino.

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#ColorOurCollections 2017

By , February 7, 2017

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From February 6th through 10th, cultural institutions from around the world are sharing coloring pages on social media with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

Our coloring pages include incunabula, anatomical drawings and prints, medical teaching resources, biodiversity, bookplates, and more!

We’re sharing our coloring pages here and on our Twitter and Instagram (@HarvardHistMed).

Click here to download our entire 2017 coloring book.

Be sure to share your work using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections and we’ll retweet our favorites!

 

 

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17th Alma Dea Morani Award Presented to Paula A. Johnson

By , December 8, 2016

On November 3, 2016, friends and supporters of the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine gathered in New York City to celebrate the 2016 Alma Dea Morani Awardee, Paula A. Johnson MD, MPH.

Paula Johnson

Paula Johnson, 2016 Recipient of the Alma Dea Morani Award. Image used with permission of the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.

The Alma Dea Morani MD Renaissance Woman Award was established to recognize an exceptional woman in medicine or science who demonstrates professional excellence and a passion for learning and service.

Dr. Paula Johnson, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, is the 14th president of Wellesley College, founder and former Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and former Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Johnson also served as the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in the Field of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Johnson is a pioneer in women’s health and sex difference in medical studies and treatment.

At the award ceremony, Dr. Johnson presented on sex differences in research, medicine, health, and public health. Her 2013 Ted Talk, “His and Hers Healthcare” encompasses her passion and her drive for improving the health of women worldwide.

From all of us at the Center for the History of Medicine, congratulations Dr. Johnson!

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine and Archives for Women in Medicine are longtime collaborators, and the Center for the History of Medicine is the repository for the Foundation’s Alma Dea Morani Oral History Project. Interviews of past recipients, including Carol Nadelson and Florence Haseltine, are available via Onview.

 

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HMS LXX: 70 Years of Women at Harvard Medical School

By , November 15, 2016

 

Excerpts from an oral history interview with Raquel E. Cohen, member of HMS’ first coeducational class compiled for HMS LXX

On October 21, 2016, Harvard Medical School celebrated over 70 years of women at Harvard Medical School. The event highlighted several milestones, including the 70th anniversary of Harvard Medical School’s first coeducational class, the appointment of the 250th woman as a full professor, the 20th anniversary of the Eleanor and Miles Shore 50th Anniversary Fellowship Program for Scholars in Medicine, which supports junior faculty, the funding of the Elizabeth D. Hay Professorship in Cell Biology, the 10th anniversary of the Archives for Women in Medicine, and over 40 years of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women.

The event featured a series of curated conversations with women in medicine, from medical students to international leaders in health, addressing issues of women’s leadership, challenges faced by women in medicine, and work done by women at the forefront of women’s health. The event was punctuated by a keynote conversation with Shirley Tilghman, President Emerita of Princeton University and member of The Harvard Corporation.

First class of women accepted to Harvard Medical School, 1945. (HMS, Classes and Reunions, 00100.057)

First class of women accepted to Harvard Medical School, 1945. (HMS, Classes and Reunions, 00100.057). Cohen is pictured in the top row, second to right.

The “Women’s View at HMS: Then and Now” panel featured a video excerpting highlights from Raquel Cohen’s 2006 oral history interview. Cohen, an internationally recognized expert in the field of intervention and assistance to survivors of disasters, earned her Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1942, and was a student in Harvard Medical School’s first coeducational class, graduating in 1949.

Although Dr. Cohen could not attend HMS LXX in person, highlights of her oral history, curated by Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine Joan Ilacqua, detail just a few moments of her fascinating life story. Dr. Cohen’s full oral history is available via Onview, and additional oral histories with women leaders in medicine and the medical sciences are available at: tiny.cc/womeninmedicine.

To learn more about the Archives for Women in Medicine, visit: countway.harvard.edu/awm.

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Students produce documentary on Mary Ellen Avery for National History Day

By , September 22, 2016
Highlights from the Mary Ellen Avery Papers are available via OnView

Highlights from the Mary Ellen Avery Papers are available via OnView

I am always excited when students utilize Archives for Women in Medicine collections for National History Day. Recently, I received a National History Day Junior Group Documentary entitled “Mary Ellen Avery: Premature Baby Savior.”

The documentary, made by classmates Ben and Isabella, won the Science Heritage Award at the 2016 Florida History Day competition. Florida History Day is an annual, statewide competition and affiliate of National History Day that supports students in junior and high school in doing local, national, or world historical research based around a theme. The 2016 theme was “Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History,” and students are encouraged to pick any topic that supports the theme.

Ben and Isabella’s documentary focuses on Dr. Mary Ellen Avery’s life, research on premature infants and respiratory distress syndrome, and identification of surfactant. The students used sources available digitally from The Mary Ellen Avery Papers through OnView to inform their documentary.

While National History Day teaches students how to find and interpret historical sources, it truly is an interdisciplinary experience for young researchers. To best explain the importance and practical applications of Dr. Avery’s research, Ben and Isabella interviewed neonatologists, a neonatal nurse practitioner, and a professor of medicine. Finally, the students interviewed family members of prematurely born triplets, and the triplets themselves, showing their personal connection and gratitude for Dr. Avery.

Congratulations on such wonderful work for National History Day, Ben and Isabella!

The documentary, “Mary Ellen Avery: Premature Baby Savior” is available on YouTube.

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Deputy Director Awarded Joseph B. Martin Dean’s Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women Staff

By , June 27, 2016

On June 2, 2016, the Center’s Deputy Director, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, was awarded the Joseph B. Martin Dean’s Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women Staff. The Dean’s award, initiated by and named for former HMS Dean Joseph B. Martin, recognizes Harvard faculty and staff members committed to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine. It is co-sponsored by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Committee on the Status of Women and is awarded annually.

Emily Novak Gustainis

Novak Gustainis

Emily, who joined the Center for the History of Medicine in 2009, was recently named Deputy Director of the Center. She serves in a senior management role and is responsible for the care and curation of the Center’s collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives, the Warren Anatomical Museum, and special collections. Emily was nominated for the Dean’s award by several of her colleagues, who recognized her for her leadership, mentorship, and for fostering an environment that recruits, retains, develops, supports, and advances women staff.

At the award ceremony, Dean Jeffrey S. Flier introduced and read excerpts from nomination letters for the award:

“As a mentor, supervisor, and colleague, Emily provides encouragement and inspiration directly through her attitudes and actions.”

“As a manager, she ensures that staff members are given ample opportunities to develop as professionals and fulfill career and educational goals. She inspires confidence and independence in her employees and encourages us to seek out opportunities for growth. Within her department, Ms. Novak Gustainis fosters a community of support, creativity, and openness for her female employees, and works to ensure that her staff members are able to enjoy a high quality of both professional and personal life.”

“Ms. Novak Gustainis has consistently been involved with the recruitment, retention, and promotion of high quality women staff members.  She actively seeks out opportunities and funding to retain women staff members, either in their current positions or through promotion to more advanced roles. … Moreover, she has overseen the promotion of multiple women staff members from part-time to full-time or temporary to permanent roles.”

Emily graciously accepted the award, and in her acceptance speech, expounded upon the merits of having a mentor like Kathryn Hammond Baker who supported her throughout her career.

“Kathryn was the kind of person who believed that anything was possible, and her belief in me transformed my perspective on my career as an archivist. When I became a parent, she offered me the flexibility one could only hope for as a working mother. And as a friend, she embodied strength and hope in the face of the inevitable.   If I can somehow pass at least some of this on, to make how we work better, I will consider myself a success.”

We hope you join all of us at the Center in congratulating Emily!

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Announcing the 2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow

By , June 2, 2016

The Archives for Women in Medicine and Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine are pleased to announce the 2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow: Kate Grauvogel.

Kate Grauvogel, 2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow

Kate Grauvogel, 2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow

Kate Grauvogel is an advanced doctoral student in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine Department at Indiana University-Bloomington. Broadly, her research interests include the history of women’s health, especially pathology and psychiatry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Her current research focuses on women and experimentation in medicine, particularly the history of blood clotting disorders in reproductive-age women, and how physicians perceived the whole constellation of gender, reproduction, secretions, clots, and associated diseases.

Grauvogel’s dissertation is entitled, “A gendered history of pathology: blood clots, women, and hormones in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” It argues that the bodies of women—whether as obstetric patients, cadavers, or sufferers of side-effects from birth-control pills—shaped pathological theory as well as understandings of the role of secretions (later identifiable as estrogens) in health and disease. It also explores the medical and cultural functions of the Pill in the twentieth century and its impact on women and their lives. In it, she hopes to show how nineteenth-century pathologists and twentieth-century physicians observed pregnant women and women on the birth control pill and gleaned important information from them, such as the idea that fluctuations in estrogens could lead to the formation of dangerous blood clots.

The project as a whole uses primary sources from France, England, and Germany. At the Countway, Grauvogel will add an American perspective from the Boston Hospital for Women Records, 1926–1983, The Free Hospital for Women Records, 1875–1975, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, The Leona Baumgartner Papers, 1830-1979, the Janet Ward McArthur Papers, 1939-2005, and other collections. She will be looking for cases of lying-in illnesses, including blood clotting, which will shed light on how pathologists thought about dangerous blood clots in women as the result of either pregnancy or the Pill. She hopes to emerge with a better grasp of the ailments doctors observed in women, as well as and how they described and thought about such ailments.

We look forward to hosting Kate at the Center next summer.

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

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UMass Boston Visits Center for the History of Medicine

By , May 20, 2016

On May 4, 2016, Olivia Weisser’s UMass Boston graduate seminar “Women’s Health and Healing” visited the Center for the History of Medicine. The course investigated the history of women for and by women in Europe and America, from the medieval period through the late 19th century, tracing changing ideas about women’s health and bodies, and their roles as healers and patients.

Before the visit, the class read articles on late 19th and early 20th century attitudes toward birth control and the methods used to achieve it. To facilitate discussion, Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, and Jessica Murphy, Reference Archivist, displayed birth control, fertility, and other research materials, including:

 

Aristotle’s Masterpiece

"The Works of Aristotle," or "Aristotle's Masterpiece," according to historian Mary Fissell is "one of the best-selling books ever produced in English on sex and making babies." The first edition, published in 1684, was wildly popular. Unregulated copies and versions were created and sold through the 1870s in North America, and was reprinted in Britain through the 1930s. Several copies of "The Works of Aristotle" are available via the Medical Heritage Library and more information on Mary Fissel's ongoing research on the cultural history of the Masterpiece is available via The Public Domain Review.

“The Works of Aristotle,” or “Aristotle’s Masterpiece,” according to historian Mary Fissell, is “one of the best-selling books ever produced in English on sex and making babies.” The first edition, published in 1684, was wildly popular. Unregulated copies and versions were created and sold through the 1870s in North America, and were reprinted in Britain through the 1930s. Several copies of “The Works of Aristotle” are available via the Medical Heritage Library and more information on Mary Fissel’s ongoing research on the cultural history of the Masterpiece is available via The Public Domain Review.

 

Intrauterine Device

This inter-uterine device is from the Clarence J. Gamble Papers. Dr. Gamble was a major figure in 20th century population control. He presided over field work researching fertility and birth control around the world, and his field workers, predominantly women, would poll, advise, and advocate for contraceptive techniques and devices, like this plastic inter-uterine coil for women in developing nations.

This plastic intrauterine device (IUD), was known as the Gynekoil, Margulies Spiral or the Perma Spiral. According to the Dittrick Medical History Center, IUD coils were popularized in America in the 1960s as a simpler form of birth control than the Pill, although the reputation of the IUD has suffered due to scandal surrounding the Dalkon Shield brand IUD.

This IUD is from the Clarence J. Gamble Papers. Dr. Gamble was a major figure in 20th century population control. He presided over field work researching fertility and birth control around the world, and his field workers, predominantly women, would poll, advise, and advocate for contraceptive techniques and devices, like this plastic inter-uterine coil for women in developing nations.

Rythmeter

A rhythmeter is used to help a woman determine her fertile and infertile periods using information including her last menses and the length of her cycle. This rhythmeter dates to 1944 and is part of the Abraham Stone papers. Stone was the Medical Director, and later Director, of the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau in New York City, and an administrator of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Stone specialized in marriage counseling, family planning services, and fertility and sterility services.

The rhythm method of birth control uses information including a woman’s last menses and the length of her cycle to determine her fertile and infertile periods. A rythmeter allows a woman to easily calculate when she is most and least likely to conceive. Once the only legal form of birth control, this rythmeter dates to 1944 and is part of the Abraham Stone Papers. Dr. Stone was the Medical Director, and later Director, of the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau in New York City, and an administrator of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Stone specialized in marriage counseling, family planning services, and fertility and sterility services. The rhythm method is still used today, albeit on cell phone apps.

In addition to discussing the history of fertility research, the class was given an overview of the history of women at Harvard Medical School and an introduction to doing archival research at the Center for the History of Medicine.

Interested in bringing your class to the Center for the History of Medicine? Contact chm@hms.harvard.edu.

 

 

 

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