Arthur Hertig Papers Open to Research

By , March 10, 2017
Arthur Hertig

Arthur Hertig

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the reopening of the Arthur Tremain Hertig papers, 1922-1987. Hertig (1904-1990) was a pathologist, human embryo researcher, and professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. Hertig collaborated with John Rock to conduct studies of early human embryos, research which enabled later advances in the birth control pill and in vitro fertilization. Hertig was also Shattuck Professor of Pathological Anatomy and Chairman of the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. After stepping down as Chairman in 1968, Hertig moved to the New England Regional Primate Research Center in the Division of Pathobiology.

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Arthur Hertig

The papers are the product of Hertig’s activities as a pathologist, embryology researcher, author, and Harvard Medical School faculty member. The papers contain: Hertig’s professional correspondence and research records, including those records related to his human embryo research with John Rock; Harvard Medical School records; records from professional meetings and conferences; notes and illustrations from his time as a student at the University of Minnesota, along with photographs and other personal records.

The finding aid for the Hertig papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

 

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Staff Finds: The Art of Robert Latou Dickinson

By , June 27, 2016
Dickinson Self-Portrait

Dickinson Self-Portrait

Robert Latou Dickinson is perhaps best known as a sex researcher, as well as for his collaborations with Margaret Sanger in promoting contraception and with Abram Belskie in developing anatomical models. However, in addition to being a medical illustrator, Dickinson was also engaged in art outside of the medical field. In a short paper from 1950, read in his absence at a meeting of the New York Physicians Art Club (of which he was president for two years), Dickinson had these words about the intersection of art and medicine:

Drawing or painting is important additional training for any doctor. It sharpens his observation of detail and proportion. Whenever you depict trees or whatever, you are developing speed in facility of eye-record. Then, as you were looking at a standing posture, chest action or the facial expressions that furnish diagnostic clues, you have, by your sketching, sharpened and quickened your powers of observation.

Dickinson maintained a studio in the New York Academy of Medicine building and authored several publications related to his nature sketches, including the New York Walk Book (1923), Palisades Interstate Park (1921) and the Washington Walkbook (circa 1918). Images of Dickinson’s drawings can be found in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

Series V of the Robert Latou Dickinson papers contains a subseries of Dickinson’s non-medical artwork. The finding aid for the Dickinson papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Robert Latou Dickinson Papers Open to Research

By , June 27, 2016
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Robert Latou Dickinson

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the  Robert Latou Dickinson papers, 1881-1972 (inclusive), 1926-1951 (bulk). Dickinson (1861-1950, MD, 1882, Long Island College Hospital) was a gynecologist and obstetrician, sex researcher, anatomist, author, and artist. Dickinson worked with Margaret Sanger in promoting contraception and was also known for his medical illustrations and work with Abram Belskie developing anatomical models, in particular Norma and Normman.

The papers are the product of Dickinson’s activities as a sex researcher, obstetrician and gynecologist, author, and artist. The papers include: Dickinson’s professional and personal correspondence; case histories and subject files related to his research interests; writings for both books and articles, including records related to his unpublished book Doctor as Marriage Counselor; biographical records including diaries, obituaries and related correspondence, photographs, and an unpublished biography written by Dickinson’s son-in-law, George Barbour; and Dickinson’s medical and non-medical artwork.

The finding aid for the Dickinson papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Robert Latou Dickinson

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Curriculum Changes at Harvard Medical School

By , October 8, 2015

Harvard Medical School introduced a newly designed curriculum this fall, as the Harvard Crimson reports:

Medical professors who conceived the overhaul of the curriculum, which is called “Pathways” and has been in the works since 2012, say it will require medical students to learn more actively, rather than cram and memorize material, and that it seeks to reflect how medicine has changed over the last 30 years. It focuses on the first two years of medical school, termed “preclerkship,” and is now in effect for the school’s first-year students.

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Dean Daniel Tosteson

This is only the most recent reshaping of how medicine is taught at HMS. In 1985, under Dean Daniel Tosteson, HMS launched the “New Pathway” program, which utilized problem-based learning done in small groups, to foster life-long learning and de-emphasize memorization, texts, and lectures. Due in part to this work, Tosteson received the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service in 1991.

In 1928, Dean David Edsall introduced a version of the Oxford tutorial system. Edsall was concerned that medical education was focused on the average student and did not have allowances for the higher-achieving students to reach their full potential. Students showing promise were selected for the system and in their first year received support from tutors in specific subject areas which allowed them to pursue extra work and research outside of the normal course of study.

Major reforms to medical education at Harvard also took place in the late 19th century. Correspondence (shown below) from Harvard University President Charles Eliot to Medical School Dean Calvin Ellis details the reorganization of education at the Medical School in 1870-1871. Reforms designed to raise standards included a three-year course of study, examinations in each department, including a written portion, a requirement that every student perform dissection, attendance of at least two terms as a requirement for a degree, and the specification of fees.

The correspondence below can be found in the following collection: Harvard Medical School. Office of the Dean. Records, 1828-1904 (inclusive), 1869-1874 (bulk). The collection has been digitized and links to digital surrogates are available in the finding aid.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Page 1

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Pages 2 and 3

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Page 4

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Lawrence Lader Papers Open to Research

By , September 9, 2015

Book Cover

The Lawrence Lader papers, 1948-1996 (inclusive), 1969-1991 (bulk), are the product of Lader’s activities as an abortion rights advocate, founder and president of Abortion Rights Mobilization (ARM), co-founder of National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, which later became the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and author and journalist. The papers contain records related to the administration of ARM and NARAL, ARM’s legal activities regarding RU-486 and the Catholic Church’s tax-exempt status, as well as Lader’s writings on abortion rights and family planning, with related research records.

Lawrence Lader (1919-2006), AB, 1941, Harvard University, was a journalist and abortion rights activist, co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and founder of Abortion Rights Mobilization (ARM). He wrote extensively on abortion and reproductive rights. Lader was born in New York City in 1919 and served with Armed Forces Radio in the Pacific Theater during World War II, where his dispatches were published in the New Yorker. In Abortion, published in 1966, Lader argued that the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court decision, which extended privacy to sexuality and family planning, could also be applied to abortion. The book was cited multiple times in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Lader was among a group that co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws in 1969. After the Supreme Court decision, the group was renamed the National Abortion Rights Action League. Lader left NARAL in 1976 to found Abortion Rights Mobilization (ARM). The group actively sought the legalization in the United States of the abortion drug RU-486 (mifepristone). Also through ARM, Lader sued the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Catholic Church, because of its political lobbying on abortion.

Lader authored The Bold Brahmins: New England’s War Against Slavery (1961), Power on the Left: American Radical Movements since 1946 (1980), Politics, Power and the Church (1987), and A Private Matter, RU-486 and the Abortion Crisis (1995) .

The finding aid for the Lader papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Miriam Menkin Papers Open to Research

By , July 17, 2015
Miriam Menkin

Miriam Menkin

The Center for the History is pleased to announce the opening the of Miriam F. Menkin papers, 1919-2003 (inclusive). Menkin was a laboratory assistant and researcher at the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Mass. The papers include records from her research with John Rock on reproductive health, as well as her professional correspondence. Menkin’s professional writings, notes and commentary on John Rock’s writings, and collected subject files and clippings on topics related to reproductive health are included as well. The Menkin papers were discovered in two accessions (2009-045, 2009-053) of the John Rock papers and were combined with a series of Menkin’s papers from the existing Rock papers to form this new collection.

Miriam Friedman Menkin (1901-1992), BA, Cornell University, 1922, MA, Columbia University, 1923, was a laboratory assistant to John Rock at the Free Hospital for Women. She was born in Riga, Latvia in 1901 and immigrated with her family to the United States in 1903. Menkin is best known for performing the first in vitro fertilization of a human egg, in 1944. Prior to joining Rock in 1938, Menkin had worked on fertility research with biologist Gregory Pincus.

Archives for Women in Medicine Fellow Sarah Rodriguez recently published an article in Women’s Studies about Menkin’s research career.

The finding aid for the Menkin papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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New Addition to John Rock Papers

By , July 17, 2015
John Rock

John Rock

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that two new accessions (2009-045, 2009-053) to the John Rock papers have been processed and integrated into the collection. The additions include a new series, III. Correspondence 1932-1983, and several smaller additions to existing series, among them Rock Reproductive Study Center records and a subseries of subject files. Included in the Correspondence series are letters between Rock and the pharmaceutical company G. D. Searle about Enovid, the birth control pill.

Also found in the new accessions are papers from the work of Miriam Menkin, Rock’s laboratory assistant and a researcher at the Free Hospital for Women. These papers have been separated from the Rock records and processed for researcher access. The finding aid for the Menkin papers can be found here.

Rock (1890-1984; S.B., Harvard College, 1915; MD, Harvard Medical School, 1918) was a fertility specialist, gynecologist, and medical educator known for his role in the development of the birth control pill. A Center online exhibit, Conceiving the Pill, can be found here.

The finding aid for the Rock papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Staff Finds: Images of the First In Vitro Fertilization

By , July 17, 2015
Original Caption: "This is a picture of the first human egg to be fertilized in a test tube (watch glass). It was taken by Dr. John Rock's associates at the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Mass. in 1944. Mrs. Miriam F. Menkin, Dr. Rock's research assistant, did the laboratory work on the experiment. The egg is in the two-cell stage. This photograph was taken after 45 hours incubation. It shows two blastomeres within zona pellucida. At the edge of zona pelliucida are numerous spermatozoa."

First in vitro fertilization

While processing the papers of Miriam Menkin, Center staff discovered images of the first successful human in vitro fertilization, performed by Menkin in 1944 at the Free Hospital for Women, in Brookline, Massachusetts. The original caption for the photograph at right is as follows:

This is a picture of the first human egg to be fertilized in a test tube (watch glass). It was taken by Dr. John Rock’s associates at the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Mass. in 1944. Mrs. Miriam F. Menkin, Dr. Rock’s research assistant, did the laboratory work on the experiment. The egg is in the two-cell stage. This photograph was taken after 45 hours incubation. It shows two blastomeres within zona pellucida. At the edge of zona pellucida are numerous spermatozoa.

Miriam Friedman Menkin (1901-1992, BA, Cornell University, 1922, MA, Columbia University, 1923) was a researcher and laboratory assistant to John Rock at the Free Hospital for Women. She began her work with Rock on in vitro fertilization in 1938 and in the next six years followed a weekly routine for experimentation. However, on the day in 1944 that she finally succeeded, Menkin, exhausted from being up all night with her daughter who was getting her first teeth, fell asleep and let the egg and sperm expose for double the time specified in the protocols. The too-short exposure time was confirmed by similar successes in the coming weeks.

For an account of Menkin’s work with Rock on in vitro fertilization, see former Archives for Women in Medicine Fellow Sarah Rodriguez‘s recently published article in Women’s Studies about Menkin’s in vitro research.

The finding aid for the Menkin papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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Norman Geschwind Papers Open to Research

By , October 20, 2014
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Norman Geschwind

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Norman Geschwind papers, 1941-1984 (inclusive), 1968-1984 (bulk). The Geschwind papers include his professional correspondence, drafts of writings and related correspondence, research subject files, and event records from his involvement in professional and teaching activities. The Subject Files series contains Geschwind’s research files on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s epilepsy, as well as aphasia, apraxia, and Gerstmann Syndrome.

Norman Geschwind (1926-1984) AB, 1947, Harvard College, MD, 1951, Harvard Medical School, was the James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the director of Neurology at Boston City Hospital (1969-1975) and Beth Israel Hospital (1975-1984). Geschwind’s research focused on the relationship between brain anatomy and behavior, including the areas of language and left-handedness, and the functional differences between brain hemispheres.

The finding aid for the Geschwind papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

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