Category: Warren Anatomical Museum

Register now! Parkman Murder Movie Night with Warren Anatomical Museum Curator Dominic Hall

By , January 5, 2018

The Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital invites you to attend its next movie night.

Join us Tuesday, January 16 at 6 pm for “Murder at Harvard.” The evening features a screening of the American Experience documentary on the 1849 disappearance of prominent and wealthy Boston physician George Parkman. The murder and sensational trial that followed continue to fascinate some 160 years later. Dominic Hall, curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum in the Center for the History of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, will provide commentary.

The event is free; light refreshments will be served.
For more information or to register, please email

Staff Finds: Hertig, the Pathology Lab, and the Warren Museum

By , January 2, 2018

While processing the Arthur Tremain Hertig papers, Center staff discovered images of Hertig instructing Harvard Medical School students in the Pathology laboratory. Included are two images (first two below) that show Hertig using Warren Anatomical Museum specimens as part of the instruction, as the Pathology Department utilized the collection for teaching purposes. The Warren Anatomical Museum was established at Harvard Medical School in 1847 through a gift from John Collins Warren (1778-1856), and from the time of its founding until the late 1960s, the museum served a significant role as a resource for the teaching of medicine.

Arthur Hertig (1904-1990) was a pathologist, human embryo researcher, and professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. He joined the Department of Pathology in 1931, was promoted to Professor of Pathology in 1948, and in 1952 was named Shattuck Professor of Pathological Anatomy and Chairman of the Department of Pathology. As chairman, teaching was a priority for Hertig:

His own lectures were clear and laced with a sense of humor … His regard for his students was manifested by his practice of having every one of them attend a tea in small groups in his office, although this consumed a great deal of time. The students awarded him two prizes for excellence in teaching and made him an honorary member of one of the graduating classes.

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

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

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.


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.


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.

Documenting and preserving the Warren Anatomical Museum’s medical wet specimen collection

By , November 9, 2016


Specimens on display for Anatomy Day, 2016.

Specimens on display for Anatomy Day, 2016.

From roughly the 1840’s through the 1940’s, the Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM) collected and acquired several hundred anatomical wet tissue specimens from medical institutions and from area physicians and academics. While these specimens were originally on display within the museum, the relocation of the WAM to a smaller venue prompted the move of these specimens into storage. In April of 2015, the Museum Collections Technician, Alex Denning, began the task of cataloguing and documenting these specimens. As is the nature with any biological material, the condition of many of the specimens has deteriorated over time, despite preservation efforts. Throughout the history of collecting and saving specimens, chemical preservatives, such as ethanol (or other alcohols and ‘spirits’), formalin and formaldehyde, and various other chemical combinations, have been used to fix (render inert and stable) and preserve anatomical tissues. There is great variability in the current conditions of these specimens and they vary in subject matter from gross anatomical dissection specimens used in teaching, to pathological specimens retained for educational purposes due to their rarity.

Clavicle with sarcoma.

The task of moving over 800 specimens from museum storage to a laboratory space presented a number of logistical challenges. Due to the nature of the specimens, being housed in a variety of potentially unknown chemical preservatives, relocation of hundreds of medical specimens proves difficult and must be undertaken by special transport. Specimens were properly secured into containers and transported in specialized vehicles to make the journey to the lab. The specimens are now being processed in batches, the first of which contains 300 specimens and is nearing completion.

Processing a historic specimen involves identification, photographing, data collection, cleaning, and repackaging. Each specimen corresponds to a museum number that (hopefully) has documentation on the origins of that particular specimen. Over time, many paper labels have been lost and few specimens have their museum number etched into the glass container or on a tag within the container. This makes identification difficult and many specimens will receive temporary ID numbers until they can be identified through the process of elimination. Within the wealth of information available at WAM and the Center for the History of Medicine (CHoM), often there will be donation or loan histories, and sometimes even patient and surgery information that help to provide context for a particular specimen.

The most important and time-consuming step for each specimen is the data collection. Condition notes are collected, which note the fluid levels and coloration, any deterioration of the specimen, and stability of the container and its seal.  Photo documentation is also a vital step in this process as it records the condition and appearance of a specimen in its found state, which also serves as important data for future processing of specimens. Once documentation is complete, the exterior of the specimen container is cleaned, small cracks are sealed or stabilized, and if possible, a fluid sample is collected for future identification. The specimens are then repacked safely and returned to their storage containers.


Dr. A. T. Hertig, Dept. of Pathology, HMS, using specimens to teach medical students.

Dr. A. T. Hertig, Dept. of Pathology, HMS, using specimens to teach medical students.

As soon as a specimen is fully documented, all data, photographs, and archival information are entered into the WAM database. Efforts are currently underway to make this information available to researchers and the medical community in the future. The project has sought the help of a number of anatomists, pathologists, and medical historians to assess the potential of each specimen for teaching and research purposes. The goal of this project is not just to document and conserve existing specimens, but it is also the hope of the WAM to eventually open specimens up to researchers and scholars upon the project’s completion.


New Manuscript Acquisition Highlights

By , October 27, 2016

Recent additions to our manuscript holdings span topics from mucosal immunology to gun violence as a public health hazard, and represent only a portion of new materials acquired so far in 2016. Three of the collections highlighted here are accompanied by objects simultaneously acquired by the Curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum. To learn more about individual collections, or to request access, click through to view the full library catalog record.

  • Marian R. Neutra papers, 1975-2016 (bulk). Marian R. Neutra, Ph.D. is the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at Boston Children’s Hospital. Neutra taught Histology and Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) from 1974 to 2004. She was founding associate director of the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center (HDDC) from 1984 to 1998, and director of HDDC from 1998 to 2005. At HMS, Neutra served as the first Master of the Castle Society and chaired the curriculum committee from 1992 to 1998. She also held positions on scientific advisory committees for organizations including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) AIDS Research Advisory Committee, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Neutra was the second woman to be promoted to Full Professor at Boston Children’s Hospital. The collection consists of records reflecting Neutra’s laboratory research, teaching, and professional activities related to epithelial cell biology and mucosal immunology, including many original drawings and photographic prints and negatives taken utilizing electron microscopy.
  • Mark L. Rosenberg papers, 1970s-2016 (bulk). Mark Rosenberg, M.D., M.P.P. was president and CEO of the Task Force for Global Health from 1999 until his retirement in April 2016. Prior to his work at the Task Force, Rosenberg worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he served as the first director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). As director of NCIPC, he oversaw gun violence research until the 1996 enactment of the Dickey Amendment by the United States Congress prohibited the continued use of federal funds to promote gun control. The collection consists of records related to Rosenberg’s research on gun violence as a public health hazard; records reflecting initiatives undertaken by the Task Force and partnering global health organizations; and original photographic images (prints and negatives) and audio interviews conducted by Rosenberg for his 1980 publication Patients: the Experience of Illness.
  • Paul Goldhaber papers, 1950-2004 (bulk). Paul Goldhaber, D.D.S. was Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine from 1968 to 1990 when he retired as Dean Emeritus. Goldhaber’s research in bone biology and bone growth laid the groundwork for later advancements in dental implants. A new accrual to the Paul Goldhaber papers was transferred to the Center for the History of Medicine from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine over the summer. This addition relates almost entirely to Goldhaber’s laboratory research and consists mainly of lab notebooks maintained by Goldhaber chronologically from the late 1950s to the 1990s. A sample of pathological specimens related to the experiments recorded in the notebooks were acquired by the Warren Anatomical Museum.
  • Nancy E. Oriol papers, 1989-2001 (bulk). Nancy E. Oriol, M.D. recently stepped down as Dean for Students at Harvard Medical School, a position she held from 1998 to 2016. Oriol was founding director of The Family Van, and is an obstetric anesthesiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she pioneered  the Walking Epidural and developed a prototype for the Neo-Vac meconium suction catheter. The collection consists of project records related to the founding of The Family Van and the development of the Walking Epidural and the Neo-Vac in the 1980s, as well as records related to course development and curriculum building at Harvard Medical School from the 1990s to 2016. A prototype and early market product for the Neo-Vac were acquired by the Warren Anatomical Museum.
  • Sven Paulin papers, 1955-2014 (inclusive). Sven Paulin, M.D. was Radiologist-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital (now Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) from 1970 to 1994 and the first Miriam H. Stoneman Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School from 1983 to 1993 (Emeritus, 1994 to 2014). Paulin contributed to the development of cardiothoracic imaging technologies in the second half of the twentieth century, particularly through his development of techniques for performing coronary angiography, which he laid out in his 1964 doctoral thesis, “Coronary angiography: a technical, anatomic and clinical study.” The Sven Paulin collection was established in 2014, with 5 cubic feet of additional correspondence, photographs, and writings acquired in 2016. The collection includes Paulin’s personal and professional correspondence; films, slides, and x-rays used in teaching; writings and lectures; grants files; annotated reprints; and photographs. Several objects were acquired by the Warren Anatomical Museum, including catheter molds used by Paulin and pictured in his 1964 thesis publication.

New acquisitions are cataloged in Hollis+ (the Harvard Library catalog) to enable discovery, but until collections are fully processed they may only be accessed by researchers via consultation with Public Services.

Collections are processed by Center staff when resources become available. Visit our website to learn how you can support processing of Center collections.

In addition to individual contributions, collection processing is supported by grant-funded initiatives. To learn about current and past funded projects at the Center for the History of Medicine, see blog posts related to: Access to Activism; Bridging the Research Data DivideFoundations of Public Health Policy; and Maximizing Microbiology.

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

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

Panorama Theme by Themocracy