Category: Drafts

Apply now for a 2019-2020 New England Regional Fellowship!

By , December 7, 2018

The New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC) is now accepting applications for 2019-2020 research grants.

NERFC is a collaboration of twenty-seven major cultural agencies that will offer at least twenty awards in 2019–2020. Each grant provides a stipend of $5,000 for a total of at least eight weeks of research at three or more participating institutions beginning June 1, 2019, and ending May 31, 2020. The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine and its Center for the History of Medicine is a NERFC member.

NERFC will also make a special award in 2019–2020 on behalf of the The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, which will underwrite a project on the history of New England before the American Revolution.

All applications must be completed using our online form at www.nerfc.org/apply.

The deadline for applications is February 1, 2019.

Contact the Massachusetts Historical Society, by phone at 617-646-0577 or email fellowships@masshist.org, with questions. Download the poster or visit the NERFC website for a full list of participating member institutions.

 

Re-Centering the Narrative: A Brief History of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

By , December 4, 2018

 

On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia that afflicted “5 young men, all active homosexuals,” in Los Angeles.This report marked the beginning of public knowledge about the AIDS epidemic. What the report didn’t include was two other cases of the mysterious pneumonia – the first afflicting a gay African-American man, the other, a heterosexual Haitian man. This early omission of race was reflected throughout reporting during the HIV/AIDS crisis; historically the narrative focus has been on how the HIV/AIDS epidemic affected gay white men, while the experiences of American black and brown people with HIV/AIDS have been under documented, ignored, or written out of history.

In fact, the first case of HIV/AIDS discovered in the United States was Robert Rayford, a 16 year old black teenager from St. Louis, Missouri who died in 1969. The story of his sickness and  death, reported on in 1987, was eclipsed by the now disproven “Patient Zero” narrative that French-Canadian flight attendant, Gaëtan Dugas was the first person to bring HIV into the United States.

The time of mass HIV/AIDS deaths in the United States is largely behind us. A combination drug treatment, known as the AIDS cocktail, was discovered, leading to dramatic improvement in managing in HIV infection. After the introduction of the cocktail, the number of new AIDS-related deaths began to drop, starting in 1997. Today, HIV is a chronic condition for those with access to highly active antiretroviral therapy.

Quinn, Robert John, “Robert John Quinn’s Memorial Books, Volume A,” Documented | Digital Collections of The History Project

Despite the discovery of the cocktail more than 20 years ago, HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect African American and Latino men. According to the CDC, in 2016, African Americans accounted for 44% of HIV diagnoses, while Latinx people accounted for 26% of HIV diagnoses. Among Latino men, 85% of diagnosed HIV infections were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact, while more than half of African Americans (58%) who received an HIV diagnoses identified as gay or bisexual. The higher levels of HIV infection in black and brown communities of color is attributable to systemic bias, discrimination, structural racism, and lack of access to education and care. To face this ongoing crisis, we must acknowledge history and stories that have been hidden, and discuss how these histories can inform our current responses.

One of those stories is of Wilfred Colon Augusto, a Countway Library employee who died on September 17, 1991. Wilfred was a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, employed at Harvard Medical School, and by telephone company Nynex. He was active in the Latino Health Network. Wilfred’s obituary details:

Diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, Wilfred continued to live his life to its fullest. His great sense of humor and admiration for living allowed Wilfred to deal with the many challenges and the changing circumstances precipitated by AIDS. He enjoyed traveling, especially to his native Puerto Rico, and spending summers in Provincetown as well as dining out.

Today we remember Wilfred Colon Augusto, a member of the Harvard Medical School community, and a person whose story and experience should not be lost to history.


 

The Center for the History of Medicine in the Countway Library holds several collections related to the history of HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts and around the world, including the papers of:

  • Max Essex, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Steven L. Gortmaker, Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Stephen Lagakos, Professor of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Richard G. Marlink, Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • 13 series of the Records of the Harvard AIDS Institute

The Center also holds oral history interviews and transcripts with hemophiliac men who were patients at the Boston Hemophilia Center, available on OnView.

Dr. Fe del Mundo

By , November 27, 2018

Fe del Mundo’s 107th Birthday Google Doodle

 

Dr. Fe del Mundo is celebrated in today’s Google Doodle. She was the founder of the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines, and she was conferred the rank and title of National Scientist of the Philippines as well as the Order of Lakandula, one of the highest honors given by the Philippines. She is also often called Harvard Medical School’s, or even Harvard University’s, first woman student.

While Dr. Del Mundo was remarkable in many ways, the evidence that she was a medical student at Harvard Medical School is largely anecdotal and not well sourced. As far as my research using Harvard Medical School catalogs and records shows, she earned her Medical Degree from the University of the Philippines Manila in 1933, and in 1936, came to Boston to further her studies in pediatrics. The fact that Harvard Medical School did not admit women students and Dr. Del Mundo already earned her medical degree suggests that she was not admitted as a student, even in error, and I cannot find proof that she graduated from Harvard Medical School.

Instead, it seems more likely that she completed graduate work at Harvard Medical School through an appointment at Boston Children’s Hospital. Women physicians were admitted to courses in the Harvard Medical School Graduate School of Medicine (later called the Courses for Graduates) beginning in the late 19th century. The 1936 announcement of the Courses for Graduates clearly states that women could be admitted to graduate courses: “Women are not admitted to the regular undergraduate classes of the Harvard Medical School. The admission of women to the various courses offered under the department of the School is at the discretion of the instructor in charge of the course. The catalogue usually states in connection with each course whether or not it is open to women.”

There is very little archival documentation about the graduate courses from this period, and no list of enrolled students, but Dr. Fe del Mundo is listed as an Assistant Physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a Research Fellow in Pediatrics in 1940. Further suggesting that she was a graduate student and not a medical student, in her autobiographical statement in Women Physicians of the World (1977), Dr. Del Mundo explains “I spent three years of my postgraduate studies at the Children’s Hospital in Boston and at Harvard Medical School, one year at the University of Chicago, six months at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and short terms in various pediatric institutions, all to round out my training.”

Furthermore, other women studied at Harvard University before 1936, such as the women who studied at the Harvard-MIT School for Health Officers (later the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) including its first woman graduate Linda Frances James (who completed her certificate in 1917). Two additional women, Ann Hogue Stewart and Hester Balch Curtis, were both awarded the Master of Public Health in 1936.

Given the restrictions placed on student records, and the fact that Harvard Medical School did not celebrate or acknowledge the academic work of women prior to officially accepting women students in 1945, it is difficult to determine if Dr. Del Mundo was Harvard Medical School’s first woman student. Given her degree and course of study, it is unlikely.

If Dr. Fe del Mundo is not the first woman graduate of Harvard Medical School, does that mean her story isn’t important or isn’t a part of Harvard Medical School’s history? No. I cannot yet determine if she was the first Filipina or Asian woman admitted to the Courses for Graduates, but I imagine that she is among the first. Currently, the Center for the History of Medicine, in partnership with the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership, is funding research on Harvard Medical School’s other “firsts,” searching our archives for evidence of students who represent ethnic and cultural backgrounds that have been historically marginalized. I’m not sure who we’ll find in the archives, but at the conclusion of this project, I hope to surface other stories like Dr. Del Mundo’s. I can only imagine the pushback that a woman doctor from the Philippines may have encountered when she came to Boston in the 1930s. Despite not being Harvard Medical School’s first woman student, Dr. Fe del Mundo is still an important and inspirational figure in the history of Harvard Medical School and the history of medicine in the Philippines.


Please send any questions to Joan Ilacqua, Archivist for Diversity and Inclusion.

Warren Museum Closed 11/22 and 11/23

By , November 22, 2018

Eagle skeleton prepared by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Countway Library of Medicine

The Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery on the 5th floor of the Countway Library of Medicine will be closed Thursday (11/22) and Friday (11/23) for the Thanksgiving holiday. The entire Countway, including the Warren Museum, will reopen on Monday, 11/26. More about the Museum’s and Library’s hours can be found on the Countway website.

 

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