APPLICATION PERIOD EXTENDED: 2015-2016 Women in Medicine Fellowship

Application period extended to March 31, 2015.

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine will provide one $5000 grant to support travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for a flexible research period between July 1st 2015 – June 30th 2016. 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 deal specifically with women physicians or other health workers or medical scientists, but proposals dealing with the history of women’s health issues may also be considered. The fellowship proposal should demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic.

Manuscript collections which may be of special interest include the recently-opened Eva Neer Papers, Priscilla Schaffer Papers, or Marion Cabot Putnum Papers, or the collections of pioneers Mary Ellen Avery, Elizabeth Hay, or Grete Bibring. Preference will be given to those who are using collections from the Center’s Archives for Women in Medicine (see the full list of AWM collections here), but research on the topic of women in medicine using other material from the Countway Library will be considered (see our research guides list for online finding aids or Hollis for the most comprehensive information about all our holdings; note that the Hollis upgrade will be completed on December 22, 2014). Preference will also be given to applicants who live beyond commuting distance of the Countway, but all are encouraged to apply, including graduate students.

Application requirements

Applicants should submit a proposal (no more than five pages) outlining the proposed project, its subject and objectives, length of residence, historical materials to be consulted, and a project budget with specific information on travel, lodging, and research expenses), along with a curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendation by March 31th, 2015.

Besides conducting research, the fellow will submit a report on the results of his/her residency and will be asked to present a seminar or lecture at the Countway Library.

Applications should be sent to: Women in Medicine Fellowships, 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 The fellowship appointment will be announced in April 2015.


Wellcome Library Begins Harvest of MHL Content for the UK MHL


American medical botany, being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts, with coloured engravings .. (1817)

Dr Christy Henshaw, Digitisation Programme Manager for the Wellcome Library, recently announced that the Library has started to harvest Medical Heritage Library (MHL) content into the Wellcome digital library. Most of the MHL content – both UK-based and US/Canada-based – will be mirrored on the Wellcome Library website.

MHL collaborators are thrilled that the MHL content will be even more accessible to its global community of users. Unlike the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which holds copies of MHL metadata and points users to the digital objects in the Internet Archive (IA), the Wellcome Library is ingesting digital objects and metadata. The mirrored MHL content in the UK MHL provides a back up should there be any problems with MHL content in IA’s San Francisco-based repository.

The Wellcome is going slowly to begin with as it irons out various issues. There are currently 36 books available via the Wellcome player and it should be harvesting more content soon. The collection so far, largely from MHL collaborator Brandeis University, can be viewed here:

Catalog records for MHL-generated content include attribution of the contributing MHL collaborator in the “Note” field and Internet Archive (IA) digital object identifier in the “Reference number” field. This identifier can be used to trace the book back to the IA version that the Wellcome has harvested. Other metadata is drawn from the MARC records held by the IA.

For more on the Wellcome’s UK MHL initiative, see:

May 28th, 5:30 p.m., Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care

The Boston Medical Library is pleased to present


Broken Hearts: The Tangled History of Cardiac Care

Photo courtesy of David Jones.

Photo courtesy of David Jones.

David S. Jones, MD, PhD
A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine
Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Cannon Room/Building C
Harvard Medical School
240 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA

Open to all. Registration is required.
Contact: Roz Vogel, Countway Administration or 617-432-4807

Every day, all over America, people visit their doctors with chest pain and other symptoms of coronary artery disease. Each year over a million of them choose to undergo bypass surgery or angioplasty. Are these decisions good ones? Even though modern medicine has committed itself to an ideal of evidence-based medicine, with its clinical trials, meta-analyses, and practice guidelines, the answer is not always clear. By looking closely at the history of these procedures, it is possible to understand some of the reasons why this is the case. One problem is that clinical trial data has never monopolized medical decisions. Doctors and patients also pay attention to how treatments work, and if an intervention directly addresses the perceived cause of a disease — as often happens with surgery — then doctors assume that it will work. The challenge here is figuring out whether or not our understanding of the causes of disease is correct. The history of thinking about heart attacks shows how complicated this can be. Another problem is that clinical research generally often under-estimates the risk of medical interventions. It is easier to study the desired outcomes of an intervention than its expected or unexpected complications. As a result, doctors often end up with more thorough knowledge of a procedure’s efficacy than of its risks, an asymmetry that introduces a bias in favor of medical intervention.

Download the flier here: estes lecture 5 14


Digital record of a stand against chaos: Strong Medicine in the Harvard Gazette

Strong Medicine logoThe Harvard Gazette‘s Colleen Walsh covers Strong Medicine in “Digital record of a stand against chaos,” an April 10, 2014 article.

“The bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon turned a celebration of the human body and spirit into a day of bloodshed, fear, and mourning. Three people died in the explosions and 16 of the more than 260 injured lost limbs. Now, a year later, as the city remembers the tragedy, a Harvard initiative is telling the story of the doctors, nurses, and emergency responders who saved countless lives. It is also chronicling the days and months that followed and the spirit that helped the city recover and healed both bodies and minds.

“Strong Medicine,” organized by Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine, is a digital archive of stories, photographs, oral histories, and other media documenting the medical community’s response to the crisis. Developed in collaboration with “Our Marathon” at Northeastern University, the archive is an effort to build a permanent record for future researchers and historians….”

To read the rest of the article, see:

May 21: Charles Rosenberg on The Efficacy of Placebos: A Historian’s Perspective


For information

Download the flier:RWJ_Placebo_Efficacy_v4

April 10: Was the Civil War a Health Disaster?

The Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library of Medicine, is pleased to co-sponsor with the Office for Diversity Inclusion & Community Partnership; Harvard Catalyst Program for Faculty Development and Diversity Inclusion; and Mongan Commonwealth Fund Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, the Medicine and the Civil War Series:

Was the Civil War a Health Disaster?

featuring Andrew Delbanco, PhD
Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, New York

Thursday, April 10, 2014
3:30 – 4:30 pm, reception to follow

Minot Room, Countway Library of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
10 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA

Print and share the flier here: Andrew Delbanco_Lecture

ABOUT THIS LECTURE:  In this third lecture in the Medicine and the Civil War Series, Professor Delbanco will speak about the political and cultural situations leading up to the war between the states, and public health organizations that arose as a direct result of the need to care for the wounded and sick.

delbancoAndrew Delbanco, PhD is Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He was awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.” In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named by Time Magazine as “America’s Best Social Critic.” In 2003, he was named New York State Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities, in 2006, he received the “Great Teacher Award” from the Society of Columbia Graduates, and in 2013 he was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society.

Professor Delbanco is the author of many publications, including College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be (2012), which is required reading on many campuses, and Melville: His World and Work (2005), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography, and appeared on “best books” lists in the Washington Post, Independent (London), and TLS, and was awarded the Lionel Trilling Award by Columbia University. He has edited Writing New England (2001), The Portable Abraham Lincoln (1992, 2009), volume two of The Sermons of Ralph Waldo Emerson (with Teresa Toulouse), and, with Alan Heimert, The Puritans in America (1985). His essays, ranging on topics from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education, regularly appear in journals such as The New York Review of Books and The New Republic.  His most recent book is The Abolitionist Imagination (2012).

Professor Delbanco has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and was a member of the inaugural class of fellows at the New York Public Library Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.  He is a trustee of the Library of America, and the Teagle Foundation, and trustee emeritus of the National Humanities Center. He has also served as Vice President of PEN American Center, and as a trustee of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Space is limited. RSVP online by Wednesday, April 2, 2014:

Questions?  Contact: Terésa Carter via email ( or phone (617-432-4697).


Strong Medicine is You

Strong Medicine is a digital archive of the stories, photographs, and other media created by the medical community in response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and its aftermath. We urge you to take a moment to reflect upon last year and submit a record of your experience to Strong Medicine. Contribute to Strong Medicine here:

Some of us ran that day; some were at the finish line; others were working in the hospitals as the injured arrived or when the lock down occurred. Some of us were at home frustrated and worrying about our friends and family who might have been in harm’s way. Wherever you were that day and in the days following, your viewpoint as a medical student, health professional, or support staff person was influenced by your role in the medical community. We are seeking your stories because you experienced Marathon Monday and its aftermath in unique and personal ways.

Every story is important. We want to hear yours.

By submitting your stories for Strong Medicine, you are creating a resource useful for medical education, disaster management training and response, historical research, and other purposes yet unrealized. Strong Medicine offers Bostonians and people around the world a glimpse into our remarkable medical community, helping them to remember, reflect, and heal.


Please send any comments or questions to Joan Ilacqua, Strong Medicine Project Coordinator, at

Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine call for Autumn 2014 speakers

By , January 13, 2014

We would like your suggestions of topics and speakers for the Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine in the fall of 2014.

The Colloquium is sponsored by the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the McLean Hospital Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education.  It offers an opportunity for researchers in the history of psychiatry, medicine, and science to present informally, including work in progress, to a small group of clinicians, researchers, and others interested in the historical context of their work. We are unable to fund an honorarium or travel epenses.  We do offer an informal setting where work in progress can be offered and receive constructive contributions, rather than the formal presentation of a polished paper.  The discussion is usually lively and the audience appreciative. A list of past speakers and topics is attached for perspective.

The Colloquium is usually held from 4:00 to 5:30 PM on the third Thursday of each month in the fall at the Harvard Medical School. It consists of 45-60 minute presentation followed by 30-45 minutes of discussion.

If you have suggestions regarding speakers and topics you think would be interesting for the Colloquium or if you are interested in presenting in the Colloquium, please contact David G. Satin, M.D., Director, Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine,

New Acquisitions: Priscilla A. Schaffer Papers

By , January 10, 2014
Priscilla A. Schaffer, Ph.D

Priscilla A. Schaffer, Ph.D

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of  Priscilla Ann Schaffer, Ph.D (1941 – 2009). She served two stints on the Harvard Faculty of Medicine, was one of the school’s first woman full professors, and was an internationally recognized virologist who published more than 150 papers.

Schaffer’s research focused on herpesviruses, specializing in the research of herpes simplex, and she used genetic approaches to illuminate mechanisms of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) gene expression, DNA replication, latency and reactivation. Her lab was the first to generate mutants of HSV, to establish the genetic and physical maps for HSV, and to identify the viral DNA replication and regulatory proteins. Schaffer was noted for her relentless, genetic approach to nearly every aspect of HSV.

She is also renowned for her mentorship of students, postdoctoral fellows, and fellow faculty. For more about Dr. Schaffer, see the tribute published by the HMS Office of Faculty Affairs.

The collection, which is not yet available for research, consists chiefly of grant records, 1980s-2000s. Also included are lab notebooks, lectures, awards, manuscript drafts, correspondence related to HSV gene mutant requests, and copies of theses and dissertations for which Schaffer served as advisor.

For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at

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