Nutshell Studies Loaned to Renwick Gallery for Exhibition

By , October 13, 2017
Frances Glessner Lee and Alan R. Moritz working with furnishings for the Nutshell Studies, 1948. Records of the Department of Legal Medicine, Harvard Medical Library

Frances Glessner Lee and Alan R. Moritz working with furnishings for the Nutshell Studies, 1948. Records of the Department of Legal Medicine, Harvard Medical Library

In 1946, Frances Glessner Lee donated the first ten models of what have become known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death to Harvard Medical School’s Department of Legal Medicine. She followed that gift with seven more models in 1948, eventually giving a total of eighteen Nutshells to the Medical School. The Nutshells, intricate dioramas depicting mysterious homicides, suicides, and natural deaths, were built by Lee to serve as teaching tools for the Harvard Associates in Police Science seminars that she hosted each year. In 1967, the Department of Legal Medicine closed, and Harvard loaned the Nutshell Studies to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Baltimore, Maryland, where Department of Legal Medicine alumnus Russell Fisher was the medical examiner. Fisher moved the Harvard Associates in Police Science seminars to Baltimore and kept the teaching mission of the Nutshells alive.

For the first time since being loaned to Baltimore, the eighteen Harvard Nutshells will be on display for the public. They are being hosted by the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery for their exhibition Murder is Her Hobby. In addition to the Harvard Nutshells, the exhibition will also display a nineteenth Glessner Lee Nutshell from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, courtesy of the Bethlehem Heritage Society. The exhibition will run from October 20, 2017 to January 28, 2018. More information regarding Murder is Her Hobby can be found on the Renwick Gallery website, in the Washington Post, and in HMS news.

More information about the Department for Legal Medicine can be found in Corpus Delicti: The Doctor as the Detective, a physical and digital exhibit curated by Center for the History of Medicine Public Service Librarian Jack Eckert.

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Center hosts Massachusetts high school students for Phineas Gage symposium

By , December 6, 2016
Microsoft Word - Phineas Gage Flyer.docx

Colloquium on Phineas Gage flyer, Courtesy of Nancy Donlon

The Center for the History of Medicine hosted forty students and seven teachers from six area high schools on November 28th for a half-day “Colloquium on Phineas Gage: A Scientific Inquiry.” The AP Psychology and AP Biology students came from schools across eastern Massachusetts and included Medford High SchoolBurlington High SchoolJohn D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and ScienceArlington High SchoolBraintree High School, and Dedham High School. The program was developed and organized by Medford High School AP Psychology teacher Nancy Donlon and was generously supported by the Medford Educational Foundation. Director Scott Podolsky, MD and Warren Museum curator Dominic Hall participated from the Center.

The students were exposed to a panel of Harvard Medical School and independent scholars who presented diverse material on the historical character of Gage and on modern medicine’s

Phineas Gage colloquium t-shirt. Courtesy of Kaitlin Donlon.

Phineas Gage colloquium t-shirt. Courtesy of Kaitlin Donlon.

understanding of the human brain. Harvard Medical School associate professor and Massachusetts General Hospital neurosurgeon Frederick Barker, MD placed the Gage narrative within the 19th-century debates surrounding neuroscience and the rejection and adoption of cerebral localization. Independent scholar Matthew L. Lena discussed the problematic fictions that have been tied to Phineas Gage’s patient history and how one integral case study can inform, support or hinder modern medical practice. The panel concluded with associate director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School assistant professor Steven Schlozman, MD‘s presentation on the modern understanding of how adolescent and teenage minds hold information and processes emotion through the construction of narratives.

The colloquium ended with the students breaking into groups and exploring the content presented from the three panelists and their renewed sense of the Gage narrative.

 

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Phineas Gage 3D Print!

By , December 5, 2016
Phineas Gage 3D Print, Courtesy of Graham Holt, Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Boston Children’s Hospital

Phineas Gage 3D Print, Courtesy of Graham Holt, Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Boston Children’s Hospital

One of the most interesting developments in the renewed teaching capacity and impact of Phineas Gage is the recent establishment of a printable 3D model of well-known patient’s skull. The print file was created by Graham Holt at the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital, and is based on the 2004 thin-slice computed tomography scans of Peter Raitu and Ion-Florin Talos. The file grants a tangible portability to the Gage skull given that the original usually stays safety ensconced in the Warren Museum Exhibit Gallery. Holt’s 3D print had been downloaded 725 times as of October 3rd. The project was featured on the May 5th 3D Printing Today Podcast (segment at 1:02:30). The Warren Anatomical Museum has been using its own version of the Holt print in on-site, hands-on educational programs.

The print file for the Gage skull can be found in the following two places:

The capacity to print a version of Gage’s skull is an exciting addition to the Gage educational experience. More about the original CT scan is discussed in Ratiu, P., Talos, I. F., Haker, S., Lieberman, D., & Everett, P. (2004). “The tale of Phineas Gage, digitally remastered.” Journal of neurotrauma, 21(5), 637-643. More about the Phineas Gage case in general can be found on Malcolm Macmillan’s Phineas Gage Information Page.

 

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Recent Additions to the Warren Anatomical Museum

By , November 17, 2016

2016 has been a dynamic year for building the holdings of the Warren Anatomical Museum collection. New acquisitions came in representing the legacy and contributions of multiple Harvard health science institutions, including 20th-century narratives that were not well documented by the museum’s current collections. Multiple spirometers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health were added to the collection. A Garceau Junior electroencephalograph, a device with technical origins at Harvard Medical School, was given to the Warren. The museum acquired a set of medical instruments formerly belonging to HMS graduate Ralph Clinton Larrabee, whose personal papers are in the Center for the History of Medicine and the Harvard University Archives. Two sampling pumps from the Six Cities Study were given to the museum. Among these wonderful additions, three new accessions to the Warren Anatomical Museum are further detailed below.

Wilgus Daguerreotype of Phineas Gage, 1850-1860. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Wilgus Daguerreotype of Phineas Gage, 1850-1860. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The skull, life cast and tamping iron of Phineas Gage are the items most associated with the current and historical Warren Anatomical Museum. Many of the visitors to the Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery in the Countway Library come to visit Phineas and the majority of the educational programs conducted in the Gallery revolve around the ever-evolving Gage narrative. Thanks to the generosity of Jack and Beverly Wilgus, the sixth plate cased daguerreotype of Phineas Gage (the Wilgus daguerreotype) has been added to the museum for the future benefit of scholars and public. The Wilguses identified the image as Phineas Gage in 2009 and their discovery led to articles in the Smithsonian Magazine and The Boston Globe. The Wilguses maintain a website on their journey with the Gage daguerreotype called “Finding Phineas.” Their kind gift has helped humanize the much-studied Gage as prior illustrations focused on his skull and life cast.

The museum was also lucky enough to purchase a Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette that was given to Nobel Laureate Albert Schweitzer by Harvard cardiologist Paul Dudley White and used in cardiac research at Schweitzer’s hospital in

Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette, 1960. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Sanborn Company Viso-Cardiette, 1960. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Gabon in 1960. The device was utilized in a scientific study by David Miller and Steven Spencer entitled “Survey of cardiovascular disease among Africans in the vicinity of the Albert Schweitzer hospital in 1960,” published in The American Journal of Cardiology in 1962. It struggled to perform in the climate around the hospital and had to be modified repeatedly, much of which is detailed in the Paul Dudley White papers at the Center for the History of Medicine. The research and Viso-Cardiette are also discussed in Oglesby Paul’s biography of White, Take Heart. The Life and Prescription for Living of Paul Dudley White.  As an artifact, the Viso-Cardiette touches on multiple historical narratives such as scientific interventions from the West into Africa and the collaborations between high-profile physicians and hospitals.

Pressure gauge from hyperbaric chamber, 1928. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Pressure gauge from hyperbaric chamber, 1928. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The museum was also excited to receive one of the few known items to survive from the Harvard School of Public Health’s scientific hyperbaric chamber from the School’s tenure at 55 Shattuck Street in Boston. The Warren was generously given a pressure gauge that was preserved by several scientists after the chamber was decommissioned and dismantled from what is now part of Boston Children’s Hospital. The 31-foot long chamber was designed and installed by the School’s Department of Physiology and Industrial Hygiene in 1928 in order to study the physiological effects of various pressures. Its design specifics are discussed in a 1932 paper in the Journal of Industrial Hygiene entitled “A pressure chamber for studying the physiological effects of pressures varying from six to sixty pounds per square inch absolute.” When Children’s Hospital leased the site from the School of Public Health, they adapted the chamber for therapeutic use, eventually leading to the 1965 installation of a new hyperbaric chamber at the site specifically designed for the hospital’s clinical needs. The gauge serves as an excellent tangible reminder of this work at both institutions and speaks to a trajectory of experimental legacy informing clinical practice.

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Phineas Gage Event on June 23rd

By , June 10, 2016
Skull of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Skull of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

On the evening of June 23rd the Center for the History of Medicine will host a set of lectures on the ever-evolving case of Phineas Gage, highlighting new investigations and revisiting important past scholarship. The event is free and open to the public.

  • “The Odd Fame of Phineas Gage: How Phineas Got His Groove Back, and Why Getting Gage Right Matters”
    • By Matthew L. Lena, Independent scholar

The evening will also include remarks by Center for the History of Medicine Director Scott Podolsky and Warren Anatomical Museum Curator Dominic Hall. The program will last an hour and fifteen minutes and will conclude with a panel of questions and answers. Refreshments will be served.

 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reception begins at 5:30pm.

Minot Room, fifth floor

Countway Library of Medicine

Harvard Medical School          

10 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

 

Free and open to the public.

 

Registration is required. To register, use our online registration form or email us at  ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

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Phineas Gage Event on June 23rd!

By , June 8, 2016

On the evening of June 23rd the Center for the History of Medicine will host a set of lectures on the ever-evolving case of Phineas Gage, highlighting new investigations and revisiting important past scholarship. The event is free and open to the public. The program will last an hour and fifteen minutes and will conclude with a panel of questions and answers. Refreshments will be served.

Skull and life mask of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, WAM 00949 & 00950

Skull and life mask of Phineas Gage, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, WAM 00949 & 00950

When: Thursday, June 23, 2016. Reception begins at 5:30pm.

Where: Minot Room, 5th floor, Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 10 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

What: Lecture series on Phineas Gage. Free and open to the public.

 

More details to follow.

 

Registration is required. To register, use our online registration form or email us at ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

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Center for the History of Medicine collections in Autumn 2015 Harvard Medicine Magazine

By , December 7, 2015
Cast of John Thelwall, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Cast of John Thelwall, Warren Anatomical Museum, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Artifacts, artwork and ephemera from the Center for the History of Medicine’s Boston Medical Library and Warren Anatomical Museum collections highlight the “Backstory” section of the Autumn 2015 Harvard Medicine, entitled Voices. Complementing the magazine’s central theme, each historic piece focuses on aspects of human speech and the history of vocal health.

Ephraim Cutter Laryngoscope,  Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Ephraim Cutter Laryngoscope, Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Featured from the Warren Anatomical Museum is a phrenological cast of the head of John Thelwall (1764-1834). Thelwall was an English professor of the science of elocution and a prominent member of the London Corresponding Society, which advocated for voting rights and government reform. In 1814, Thelwall published Results of experience in the treatment of cases of defective utterance, from deficiencies in the roof of the mouth, and other imperfections and mal-conformations of the organs of speech : with observations on cases of amentia, and tardy and imperfect developments of the faculties. The cast is part of the Warren Museum’s Boston Phrenological Society collection. In the Society’s  A Catalogue of Phrenological Specimens Belonging to the Boston Phrenological Society (1835), the Thelwall cast was categorized under the faculty of “Language.”

Johann Nepomuk Czermak Laryngoscope, Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Johann Nepomuk Czermak Laryngoscope, Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

The “Backstory” spotlights four historic items from the Boston Medical Library collection. Ephraim Cutter, Harvard Medical School Class of 1856, designed his own laryngoscope, based on the demonstrations of laryngoscopy pioneers Manuel Garcia and Johann Nepomuk Czermak. The device was manufactured by Cambridge, Massachusetts telescope lens maker Alvan Clark & Sons in 1859. The Library collection also includes a laryngoscope mirror designed by Czermak, who took the first endoscopic photograph. The article displays a drawing of the vocal tract by Medical School instructor in laryngology Franklin Henry Hooper, Class of 1877.

Franklin Henry Hooper vocal tract drawing, Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Franklin Henry Hooper vocal tract drawing, Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Also from the Boston Medical Library collection, the piece features the business card of Sarah Fuller, a noted 19th-century speech therapist. Fuller trained at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts and was the long-term principal of the Boston School of Deaf-Mutes. In 1890 Fuller gave Helen Keller her first speech lessons, using techniques she learned from Alexander Graham Bell. All four items were photographed for the Magazine, and the Hooper drawing is digitally displayed in the online version of the “Backstory.”

Artifact Photographs by John Soares.

Sarah Fuller business card, Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Sarah Fuller business card, Boston Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

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Countway hosting traveling Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries exhibition until December 4th

By , November 23, 2015
Binding Wounds 1

Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries at the Countway Library, Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

The Center for the History of Medicine and the Harvard Medical School Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership will be hosting the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) traveling exhibition Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine at the Countway Library until December 4th. The exhibit was curated by NLM’s Jill L. Newmark with research assistance from The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. The six-banner exhibit has been on display in the Library’s Aesculapian Room since October 26th. The exhibit’s next stop is the Erie VA Medical Center Medical Library in Erie, PA, starting on December 21st.

The exhibit’s images, text and reproductions of historic documents draw attention to the overlooked contributions of African Americans nurses, surgeons and hospital workers during the American

Binding Wounds Two

Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries at the Countway Library, Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Civil War. Using the lives and experiences of surgeons Alexander T. Augusta and Anderson R. Abbott and nurses Susie King Taylor and Ann Stokes, the NLM exhibit brings forward these health care narratives by highlighting the care given to soldiers and citizens in their fight for freedom. According to exhibit curator Newmark, “Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries opens the door to this rarely studied part of history and brings a voice to those that have remained silent for nearly 150 years.”

The exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine with research assistance from The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

 

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Phineas Gage Temporarily Off-Exhibit: October 26, 2015

By , October 26, 2015

Skull of Phineas Gage [WAM 00949]The skull of Phineas Gage and the tamping iron that caused his well-known injury will be temporarily off-display on October 26, 2015 for an internal filming project. The collection will not be available for viewing from approximately 11:30 am – 5:00 pm on that day. The skull and tamping iron will be back on display by 9:00 am on October 27, 2015.

 

Please contact the Center for the History of Medicine at chm@hms.harvard.edu with any questions.

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