Category: Newly Open to Research

Boston Medical Library Bookplates Collection Open to Research

By , February 18, 2019
"Mrs Elizabeth Wensley to the Second Church of Christ in Boston 1733"

“Mrs Elizabeth Wensley to the Second Church of Christ in Boston 1733”

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Boston Medical Library Bookplate Collection, circa 1790-1950, is open to researchers.

The first Boston Medical Library (BML) was founded by John Collins Warren and James Jackson in 1805. The Boston Medical Library was recreated in 1875 by James Chadwick with Oliver Wendell Holmes as its President. In 1960, the Boston Medical Library and the President and Fellows of Harvard College (Harvard University) entered into an agreement to combine the collections, services and administration of the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical Library in The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The collection was created by librarians and members of the Boston Medical Library over the course of the twentieth century. Many of the individual bookplates, however, date from before 1900. The bulk of the collection is bookplates; there is some associated correspondence. Most of the bookplates are those of physicians or associated medical professionals. The collection is primarily in English with some materials in German, French, Latin, and Greek.

Charles Wild Papers Open to Research

By , February 11, 2019

Staff at the Center for the History of Medicine are pleased to announce that the Charles Wild papers, 1800-1890 (inclusive), 1830-1870 (bulk) are now open to researchers.

Charles Wild was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in January 1795 to Abraham Wild (1762-1820) and Susannah (Pitman) Wild (1764-1808). Charles Wild received all of his degrees from Harvard University: his bachelor’s degree in 1814, his master’s in 1817, and his M.D. in 1818.

Charles practiced as a homeopathic physician and was one of the founding members of the Massachusetts Homeopathic Medical Society in 1856. He was also a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

Charles married Mary Joanna Rhodes (1799-1883) in 1819; the couple had at least six children: Susan, Laura, Mary, Charles, Edward, and Walter. Charles Wild died in May 1864 in North Providence, Rhode Island.

The Charles Wild papers consist of records created and collected by Charles Wild during the course of his work as a homeopathic physician in the towns of Brookline and Boston, Massachusetts, during the first half of the nineteenth century. At least one of Wild’s sons, Edward, practiced with his father and some of his records are included; the younger Charles may also be represented here. Records include financial records relating either to Wild’s medical practice or to household and personal expenses, including animal feed, groceries, lumber, stationery, paint, and clothing.  Also included are small notebooks, some clearly home-made, used by Charles Wild and his son Edward during their daily practice as homeopathic physicians in Brookline and Boston, Massachusetts. The bulk of the notebooks contain notes on patient visits and prescriptions; a smaller number document personal expenses such as meals and lodging.

Rose E. Frisch Papers Open to Research

By , February 4, 2019

~This post was co-written by Faith Plazarin, processing intern, and Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook, processing assistant.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Rose E. Frisch papers, 1921-2014 (inclusive), are open to research.

Rose E. Frisch (1918-2015) was born in the Bronx in New York. She graduated with her B.A. in 1939 from Smith College, which was partly financed by the Leopold Schepp Foundation, an organization founded by the entrepreneur and philanthropist Leopold Schepp for students in need of financial assistance. Frisch graduated with her M.A. from Columbia in 1940 in Zoology, and finally her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin in 1943.

Rose worked on the Manhattan Project beginning in 1943. She was a computer doing calculations under Kitty Oppenheimer. After the bomb dropped, she left Los Alamos and returned to Boston to work in academia, where Frisch shifted her research focus from animals and reproduction to women’s reproduction. Her area of specialization was the relationship between fat content and female fertility as well as the links between fat content and breast cancer.  Her subjects were usually athletes, including ballerinas, runners, and swimmers, or those with lower fat content, such as women in underdeveloped areas of the world or women who suffered from anorexia nervosa. Frisch was one of the few women in her field of reproductive medicine. She laid the groundwork for the discovery of leptin, a protein hormone involved in the processes she researched. While leptin was not discovered until 1997, in the 1960s Dr. Gordon C. Kennedy of Cambridge University conducted initial experiments relating to a lipostat in rats.  Leptin was later to be discovered and connected to the lipostat’s function. Frisch was involved in confirming the results of Dr. Kennedy’s experiments and were linked to leptin and its connections to fertility over 30 years later. Frisch spent almost her entire academic career at Harvard University, where she taught as an Associate professor of Population Sciences and a worked as a researcher of the Center for Population Studies until she was granted emerita status in 1992.

She was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation. Most of Frisch’s body of published works consists of articles in larger books, journals, or other serial works. However, she was also the lead editor on the scientific volume Adipose Tissue and Reproduction in 1990. Frisch published outside of academia as well. She published a children’s book called Plants that Feed the World in 1966, and a book about her life’s work for a non-academic audience, called Female Fertility and the Body Fat Connection, was published in 2002.  These publications are referenced throughout the collection.

The papers in this collection consist primarily of professional records created and collected by Rose Epstein Frisch during the course of her work as a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health in the Department of Population and Development Studies in Boston, Massachusetts.  The professional papers consist largely of research and reference materials, reprints, publications, and writings. Also included here, are some of her personal records involving her life outside of Harvard, primarily personal correspondence and photographs.

For more information about Rose Frisch, see this article from Schepp Connections Vol. 1 No. 17 2015 (p. 6).

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

Center Acquires Midcentury Funding Appeals to Arab Countries

By , January 28, 2019

The Center for the History of Medicine recently acquired donor prospect records of the Office for External Relations at the Harvard School of Public Health, now known as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Six booklets appealing to Arab companies and governments for funding new buildings at the Harvard School of Public Health, 1966. Image courtesy of Caroline Littlewood.

These donor prospect records document the school’s appeal to secure funding for research, including a 1966 appeal to Arab companies and governments. Among research files and correspondence are six spiral bound booklets. Five booklets address shaikhs of Persian Gulf states; a sixth addresses the government of Libya.

The contents of each book are near-identical. They request funds to complete construction on the new Health Sciences Laboratories in service of the fight against trachoma, bilharzia, and other infectious diseases that afflict populations in those countries.

Each contains an appeal from Dean John C. Snyder and a written presentation, complete with photographs pasted to the page and architectural drawings. The presentation is repeated in two mirrored halves: one in English, one in Arabic.

These booklets and other collection materials are now open to researchers. For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

An illustration of a prospective new HSPH research building on Huntington avenue, which seems to eliminate the presence of the MBTA Green Line. Photo courtesy of Caroline Littlewood.

The Health Sciences Laboratories, which would be built after receiving adequate funding, would be used to research and prevent trachoma, bilharzia, and other infectious diseases. Photo courtesy of Caroline Littlewood.

Manfred S. Guttmacher Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Manfred S. Guttmacher papers, 1928-1964 (inclusive), are open to research.

Manfred Guttmacher was born May 19, 1898, along with his twin brother Alan Guttmacher (1898-1974) in Baltimore, Maryland, to Adolph and Laura (Oppenheimer) Guttmacher. Manfred graduated from Student Park School in Baltimore in 1915. Both Alan and Manfred received their advanced degrees from Johns Hopkins University; Manfred received his B.A. in 1919 and his M.D. in 1923. Manfred held internships at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (1924-1925) and Boston Psychopathic Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (1927-1928).

Guttmacher specialized in criminal psychiatry, including patient care, and engaged in extensive writing and lecturing on crime and mental illness. His career included work on the definitions of insanity and the psychological requirements for responsibility for crime. He was also interested in the development of a revised penal code to replace state codes which were often inconsistent. He was involved in the development of the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code during the 1950s. This project, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, sought to establish a comprehensive penal code that could be applied across the United States. Guttmacher was an advocate of the court-appointed expert and the establishment of psychiatric clinics associated with the courts.

Guttmacher was a prolific author, publishing numerous articles and books on criminal psychiatry and psychiatry and the law. Titles include The Mind of the murderer (1960), Sex offenses (1952) and Psychiatry and the law (1952), the last two co-written with Henry Weihofen (1904-1993) who also worked on the Model Penal Code project. Guttmacher was also the author of numerous articles in medical and lay journals. The papers reflect Guttmacher’s personal and professional activities and include correspondence, writings and publications, lectures and speeches, and professional activities records.

 

Simmons Intern Processes the Elinor Kamath Papers

By , June 18, 2018
Charlotte Lellman, Simmons Processing Intern (Spring 2018). Charlotte processed the Elinor Kamath papers.

Charlotte Lellman, Simmons Processing Intern (Spring 2018). Charlotte processed the Elinor Kamath papers.

This is a guest post from our latest Simmons College intern, Charlotte Lellman, who recently processed the Elinor Kamath papers.

Over the past four months, my last semester as a student at Simmons School of Library and Information Science, I had the opportunity to intern at the Center for the History of

Medicine. During my time at the Center, I processed the Elinor Kamath papers under the supervision of Amber LaFountain. When I arrived, not much was known about Kamath or her records, but as I practiced my classroom knowledge on real records, I also got to know more about Kamath’s life and work.

Elinor Kamath (1915-1992) was a researcher at Stanford Medical School’s Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, and her major research focus was the events known as the “thalidomide crisis” or “thalidomide disaster.” The thalidomide crisis began in the 1950s and 1960s, when pregnant women with symptoms of morning sickness were treated with thalidomide. Many of these women gave birth to children with significant congenital conditions, such as absence of arms or legs. The people who had congenital conditions from thalidomide grew up to call themselves “thalidomiders,” and many continue advocacy for compensation and justice from pharmaceutical companies, particularly in countries outside the United States, such as Canada and England. In addition to learning a lot about the tragic injustices of the thalidomide crisis, I learned a lot about Kamath from studying the records she left. I discovered scraps of handwritten poetry written to her female colleagues in a male-dominated workplace; I discovered her tidy budgeting records, a necessity for reimbursement in the paper-based era; and I saw how her drive to document the thalidomide crisis forced her to self-advocate for research funding, which was often unstable.

Kamath’s records were my opportunity to practice each step of archival processing: surveying, refoldering, box listing, preservation photocopying, describing, and cataloging the collection. Throughout the process, I benefitted from the Center’s efficient and well-established protocols and templates, as well as the staff’s archival experience.

The Center for the History of Medicine is now pleased to announce the opening of the Elinor Kamath papers, 1838-1987 (inclusive), 1956-1984 (bulk). The papers, 1838-1987 (inclusive), 1956-1984 (bulk), were generated through Kamath’s many years of studying the events known as the “thalidomide crisis” or “thalidomide disaster.” Kamath’s research included correspondence with Widukind Lenz and William McBride, two doctors who were the first to recognize the connection between thalidomide and congenital conditions, as well as many other doctors, researchers, and pharmaceutical businesspeople. The papers represent Kamath’s research on legal cases in which a thalidomider or a family member brought litigation against a pharmaceutical company that distributed a thalidomide drug. The collection also includes papers from Kamath’s work as a journalist and translator, and a manuscript draft of Kamath’s unpublished book, Echo of Silence: The Causes and Consequences of the Thalidomide Disaster.

Processing a manuscript collection at the Center for the History of Medicine gave me a context in which to consider the implications of my archival decisions. With Amber, I discussed questions of terminology, provenance, arrangement, all of which were significant to how researchers will use and understand the Elinor Kamath papers.

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

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

George Packer Berry Dean Records Open to Research

By , May 22, 2018
George Packer Berry

George Packer Berry

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the records of the Office of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, during the tenure of George Packer Berry from 1949 to 1965.

George Packer Berry (1898-1986) A.B., Princeton University, M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, came to Harvard Medical School from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, where he served as Head of the Department of Bacteriology and Associate Dean. As Dean of Harvard Medical School, Berry oversaw the development of the Harvard Medical Center in 1956, which brought Harvard Medical School and its affiliated teaching hospitals together under one corporate organization, and also served as the Center’s first President. The Program for Harvard Medicine was created in 1960 to raise funds for Harvard Medical School. In addition, Berry oversaw the development and construction of the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. He was President of the Association of American Medical Colleges (1951-1952) and earned the Association’s Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education in 1961. Berry was a trustee of both American University of Beirut and Princeton University.

George Packer Berry and Otto Krayer

George Packer Berry and Otto Krayer

The records of the Office of the Dean are the product of the activities of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, during the years 1949-1965 under the tenure of Dean Berry. Included are records from the administrative activities of the Office of the Dean, including administrative staff meetings, the planning and construction of Countway Library, and correspondence, reports, meeting records, and promotional materials for the Program for Harvard Medicine. Also included are records related to the Dean’s interactions with Harvard-affiliated hospitals and records from his tenure as a trustee of American University of Beirut, his tenure as Vice President and President of the Association of American Medical Colleges, as well as his roles as Director of the Commonwealth Fund and Director of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation. The collection includes records resulting from the activities of standing and ad hoc committees at Harvard Medical School and records of the interactions of the Office of the Dean with Harvard University offices, departments, and organizations.

The finding aid for the Office of the Dean of Harvard Medical School can be found here.

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

Darwin DeForrest Douglas and the Government Contract

In 1862, surgeon general William Hammond convened a medical board to discuss the question of providing prosthetic limbs to Union soldiers who had undergone amputation after being wounded. The number of these men was increasing quickly and, if nothing else, Hammond wanted to get those who could be rehabilitated for military life back to the front. Men who would be demobilized back to civilian life also required support since a missing arm or leg could incapacitate a man who had been an active farmer or mechanic.

By the beginning of the Civil War, there were several well-known limb manufacturers in the United States, mostly along the Eastern seaboard. Benjamin Franklin Palmer had one of the first full-scale manufacturing plants and more than one of his workmen, including William Selpho, Douglas Bly, E.D. Hudson, Benjamin Jewett, and Darwin DeForrest Douglass, had gone on to create businesses of their own. The designs, including Palmer’s own, were mostly variations on a model that had been created in the early years of the nineteenth century in Britain for veterans of the Napoleonic wars. Arguments between makers were heated, however, as each tried to defend his own design as unique and, of course, better than the competition.

Hammond’s board asked several major limb manufacturers, including B.F. Palmer but not Douglass, to submit limbs for inspection. The board then planned to select the best and work out some plan whereby limbs and soldiers could be brought together. The main difficulties, it soon became clear, would be money and time: who was going to pay for the limb? and how much time should the soldier have to spend in getting it? Most limb manufacturers, including Palmer and Douglass, advised that limbs needed personal fitting — it wasn’t simply a matter of shipping off two dozen medium-size legs to a hospital and letting the staff hand them out.

The medical board never decided upon a single supplier and the Union government never signed a contract with a particular manufacturer for supplies of limbs. Instead, suppliers were given charge of particular geographic areas and soldiers in need of limbs were supposed to apply to their closest hospital. In practice, of course, this might mean a man would have to travel 200 miles roundtrip in order to get a limb — and the government stipend for prostheses did not cover travel or housing while waiting to be fitted or the multiple trips that might be necessary in order to adjust a new prosthesis properly.

Indeed, the stipend itself could be part of the problem. Since there was no official contract to control how much manufacturers could charge for a limb, just an unofficial “agreement,” several manufacturers, including Palmer and Selpho, were accused of price-gouging. Selpho, in fact, was firmly rebuked by Surgeon General Hammond more than once for taking money from soldiers over what was allowed by the government stipend.

Douglass, on the other hand, managed to benefit from the unofficial nature of the government arrangement without directly imposing on the soldier. Since there was no official government supplier, he argued that men coming to him to be fitted were simply exercising their freedom of choice in an open marketplace and the government should reimburse him as promised. However, it may also have been because he sold so few limbs in comparison to suppliers like Palmer, Selpho, and Jewett, that whatever price-fixing Douglass indulged in was not worth tracking down.

~For more, see Guy R. Hasegawa’s Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artifical Limbs (2012) and the D. DeForrest Douglass papers.

Roderick Heffron Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Roderick Heffron Papers, 1881-1977 (inclusive), 1923-1949 (bulk), are open to research.

Roderick Heffron (1901-1982) was a medical researcher and physician specializing in pneumonia. He was in born in Chicago, Illinois in 1901 and received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1928. Between 1931 and 1935, Heffron was field director of the Massachusetts Pneumonia Study and Service and, in 1936, he and Frederick T. Lord (1875-1941) co-authored Lobar Pneumonia and Serum Therapy based on the research of the Service. Heffron took a position at the Commonwealth Fund in 1937 and served on the Pneumonia Committee of the United States Public Health Service in 1939. He retired from the Commonwealth Fund in 1966. Heffron married Catherine Haman and died in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in 1983 at the age of 82.
The collection consists of records reflecting Heffron’s work in researching and writing on pneumonia, particularly his work on and the critical reception of the books published from the data gatherd during the Massachusetts Pneumonia Study on pneumonia and serum treatment. Included here are clippings of book reviews, correspondence with co-authors and other pneumonological specialists particularly George N. Papanicolaou (1883-1962), a Greek specialist in cytopathology, and collected reprints of research materials. The collection includes a small number of books collected by Heffron, many with annotations, marginalia, and insertions including newspaper and magazine clippings

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