Category: Collections

Sanitary surveys conducted by students, 1920-1948, now open for research

By , October 12, 2017
The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Harvard Medical School Department of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene Sanitary Surveys, 1920-1948 (inclusive).
The collection consists of sanitary surveys of various towns, cities, and counties throughout the United States from 1920-1948. Surveys were conducted by students to fulfill requirements of the third year class in Preventative Medicine and Hygiene at Harvard Medical School. Upon choosing a town or city, students collected a wide range of public health data and offered their criticisms and recommendations for improving public health in that town. As such, each report serves as a robust historical snapshot of life in the community at the time the survey was conducted. The goal of the assignment was to expose students to public health work in the field and to broaden their horizons beyond their chosen specialties.
Surveys usually include sections on: general information on the town; water shed, pollution, collection, storage, and purification; sewage disposal, purification, treatment, efficiency, and relation to health; garbage and refuse collection and disposal; milk production, pasteurization, and certification, including a student evaluation of sanitary conditions at one dairy using local score cards; vital statistics such as birth and death rates, infant mortality, rates for infection diseases, and including forms for births, deaths, marriages, and disease notifications; sanitary nuisances such as odors, pests, cleanliness, dumps, piggeries, and noise; industrial hygiene based upon a visit to a factory or workshop in the area; housing, including sanitary condition of a tenement and ventilation analysis of a large building; infectious diseases such as venereal diseases and tuberculosis, including information on quarantine regulations; school health and dental programs; additional information relevant to public health such as markets, slaughter houses and meat inspection, barber shops, nursing services, education information, charitable organizations of importance to public health, and any other activities of the local Board of Health. In addition to the written report, each survey has a variety of additions including but not limited to photographs, printed and hand-drawn graphs, pamphlets, quarantine signs, blank charts and forms, blueprints, and maps.

The finding aid for the Sanitary Surveys can be found here.

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

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Staff Finds: Augustus White on Race in America

By , October 12, 2017
0004810_ref

Augustus A. White

In 1969, Augustus A. White was studying for his Ph.D. at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. At this time, Sweden was a vocal opponent of the American war in Vietnam (White served in Vietnam, 1966-1967). According to his memoir, Seeing Patients, while in Sweden White began to read about the black experience and hosted Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, at his apartment, when Seale was there to do public appearances. It was during this time that White wrote a letter to President-Elect Richard Nixon, describing his views on the state of race relations in America:

Let us pause to reflect with empathy on the millions of de-humanized fathers, mothers, and brothers — poor oppressed and without hope (that so very essential element for human motivation). Now there is of course considerable “tokenism” – a black face on a TV-commerical, a few conspicuous jobs and positions. But the reality of the situation is that the black man in the ghetto is still almost completely without potential or opportunity for upward mobility. He knows it too well, he lives the facts of oppression all his waking hours. He does not have work. He cannot get work. He sees no hope of getting work. He has just about reached the bottom. Many have reached the bottom. When a man reaches the bottom then no matter what he does, he can go no way but up. (That is why the small scrawny undernourished under-equipped Viet Cong fight with such vigor and resolve.) During the black man’s oppressed existence he is chronically, and acutely aware of the luxury and comforts of his “fellow Americans”. Does this not constitute a rather explosive potential?

Later, White describes the role medicine can play in helping to ease the troubles:

Medical care should be provided through good clinics especially for child guidance and health. Sincere concern and conscientious medical care programs are a marvelous entreé for establishing communications with an alienated people. This could be financed and operated by the government in conjunction with post-graduate medical training centers many of which are already in the ghetto.

Full text of the letter can be seen below.

The Center for the History of Medicine holds the Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive), which are open to research. The finding aid for the White papers can be found here.

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

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Staff Finds: Fish Odor Control in Gloucester

By , October 3, 2017
Leslie Silverman

Leslie Silverman

While processing the Leslie Silverman papers, Center staff came across records related to an effort to control fish odor in processing plants in Gloucester, MA. Silverman was retained as a consultant by the Gloucester Community Pier Association to inspect fish processing facilities and provide recommendations for odor abatement. The issue arose initially by way of complaints from local residents and grew to encompass health concerns regarding effluent. While using chemical analysis to determine the contaminants being released by the processing, Silverman also attempted to correlate the time and location of complaints with the wind direction and the operating times of the processing plants. Initial recommendations were made in 1952, but non-compliance issues necessitated Silverman’s involvement over the next several years. The records contain Silverman’s notes and reports on his analysis, correspondence with government, plant managers, and private citizens, and lists of complaints received by local authorities. Also included is his research on similar problems in other locations. Selected records from Silverman’s work in Gloucester can be seen below.

Leslie Silverman (1914-1966) was Professor of Engineering in Environmental Hygiene and Head of the Department of Industrial Hygiene at Harvard School of Public Health. He also worked as a consulting engineer on issues regarding air pollution control, industrial hygiene, and industrial ventilation. The Center holds the Leslie Silverman papers, 1920-1967, which are the product of his activities as a consultant, researcher, and Harvard School of Public Health faculty member.

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

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Augustus White Papers Open To Research

By , October 3, 2017
Augustus A. White

Augustus A. White

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive). White is the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School and a former Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital. White was the first African American medical student at Stanford University, surgical resident at Yale University, professor of medicine at Yale, and department head at a Harvard-affiliated hospital (Beth Israel Hospital). From 1966 to 1968, he served as Captain in the United States Army Medical Corps, serving as a combat surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, Vietnam from 1966 to 1967. Since retiring from surgery in 2001, White has researched and written about issues of diversity and cultural sensitivity in medicine.

The papers are the product of White’s activities as an orthopedic surgeon, Harvard Medical School faculty member, and author and researcher. The papers contain records from White’s work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, the University of Maryland at Baltimore, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and Brown University. Also included is White’s professional correspondence, his medical writings, reminisces of his service in Vietnam, and records of his speeches and lectures. The collection also contains records from his outside legal consultations and clippings, photographs and other personal and biographical records.

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

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

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Staff Finds: Augustus White in Vietnam

By , September 19, 2017
Augustus A. White

Augustus A. White

From 1966 to 1968, Augustus A. White served as a Captain in the United States Army Medical Corps and from August 1966 to August 1967, he was deployed as a combat surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, Vietnam. During his deployment, he volunteered during his off-duty time at the St. Francis Leprosarium, earning a Bronze Star for this work, as well as for a volunteer mission to help retrieve an injured soldier from a mountainside. Subject to a special physicians’ draft, White could have chosen service in the the National Guard, Navy Reserve, or Public Health Service, but instead chose active duty service, as he describes in Seeing Patients:

Here I was, fully trained, after so many years. I couldn’t wait to get out on my own and be what I had worked so hard to be. And where in the world could I do that instantaneously at the highest volume in the most needed place other than Vietnam? Besides, I thought, I’m not going over to kill people; I’m going over to save them. And besides that, how about what I owed? I had grown up during World War II … Our soldiers had protected me then. Shouldn’t I be giving something back?

While in Vietnam and caring for badly injured soldiers, White struggled with feelings of helplessness. Again, from Seeing Patients:

Finding a way to deal with all this emotionally was crucial. If you allowed yourself to get dragged into thinking too much, you’d simply be crushed to pieces. I mulled over the idea of sending a letter and photos to Lyndon Johnson. I composed the letter in my head a dozen times, thinking about what words might have the most dramatic effect. I tried to figure out how I might actually get it to him so he would read it. I imagined getting him and other world leaders down into a MASH unit operating room before they’d be allowed to start their wars. Grab them by the collar and force them to watch a terrified young man writhing in pain with his legs mangled or his belly ripped up. But of course that was just escapist fantasy. The reality was that there wasn’t the slightest thing I could do to stop what was going on.

The Augustus A. White papers, 1951-2010 (inclusive), contain records related to White’s service in Vietnam. This includes typed and annotated excerpts from White’s diary kept during his Vietnam service, detailing his day-to-day thoughts and activities, including his work at the leprosarium (see below for diary excerpts and a letters from his commanding officer John Feagin). The collection also contains copies of his articles “Vietnam Memoirs: River of Blood” and “Notes and Impressions at Vietnam Memorial”, drafts of a manuscript about his experiences in Vietnam, and an after action report (see below for excerpts) detailing the air transfer of a badly wounded soldier from Vietnam to Walter Reed Hospital, Washington D.C.

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

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

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Francine M. Benes Papers Open for Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Francine M. Benes papers, 1979-2014 (inclusive), 1985-2005 (bulk) to research.

Born in Queens, New York, on May 8, 1946, Francine Benes received her bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in New York in 1967. In 1972, she completed a PhD in Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine. Between 1972 and 1975, she received post-doctoral training at the City of Hope National Medical Center in California where she used single cell neurochemistry to study GABA neurons. In 1975, Dr. Benes began medical school at Yale and after receiving her M.D. in 1978, she completed a psychiatric residency at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Benes’ research focuses on exploring the post-mortem brains of patients who had a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, with special focus on determining the role of GABA cells in the pathophysiology of psychotic disorders. Her later research employs microarray-based gene expression profiling (GEP) to explore the genetic causation for GABA cell dysfunction and to determine how molecular mechanisms differ in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The collection reflects Benes’ neuroscientific research focusing on the physical and biochemical changes in brain tissue in bipolar depression and dementia. Records include correspondence, drafts and manuscripts for articles and book chapters, grant proposals, budgets, and reports as well as records reflecting Benes’ professional activities at conferences and professional organizations including as a committee member, panel commentator, or speaker.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Finding aid now available for the Richard P. Strong papers

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Richard Pearson Strong Papers, 1911-2004 (inclusive), 1911-1945 (bulk) to research

Strong was born in Virginia in 1872. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School in 1893 and his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1897; he also had his first residency at Johns Hopkins. He spent two years in the American Army Medical Service during the Spanish-American war. After the war, Strong helped organize and then headed the Biological Laboratory in the Philippines directed by Paul C. Freer. In 1906, Strong was involved in the infection of twenty-three prisoners at Bilibid Prison with the bubonic plague virus. Thirteen of the men died; the rest recovered. After some investigation, the infections were blamed on a laboratory mix-up and Strong unofficially exonerated. Strong was named professor of tropical medicine at the University of the Philippines in 1907. He left the Philippines appointment in 1913 upon his appointment to a professorship in tropical medicine at Harvard Medical School; he was named chair of the newly formed Department of Tropical Medicine in the same month and president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in the same year.

Strong was an expert in tropical medicine and worked in the United States, the Philippines, South America, and Africa. The papers include correspondence files and related material concerning the Harvard Department of Tropical Medicine from its earliest years until Strong’s retirement, as well as records related to Strong’s: teaching activities at Harvard and at the Army Medical School; scientific expeditions; World War I work as head of the Red Cross commission to combat the typhus epidemic in Serbia; involvement in social clubs, international congresses, and professional societies such as the American Academy and Foundation of Tropical Medicine; advisory work for the National Research Council Committee on Medical Problems of Animal Parasitology; and service on the Massachusetts Public Health Council. The papers also contain: records pertaining to Strong’s research and writing; some family correspondence; some personal financial papers; correspondence, memoranda, and photographs relating to Strong’s teaching for the Army during World War II; a book and series of DVDs about the Harvard African Expedition in 1934; and a diary and letters belonging to Strong’s wife, Grace Nichols.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

American Academy of Dental Science Records Now Open

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the American Academy of Dental Science Records, 1868-1997 (inclusive) to research.

The American Academy of Dental Sciences was founded in 1867 in Boston, Massachusetts, one of the last national professional organizations for dentists founded in the nineteenth century in the United States. The founding of the Academy came towards the end of a national shift towards professional organization among dentists. The move towards organization aimed to position dentistry as a united profession, smoothing over divisions from earlier in the century which had led to public and private feuds and, many dentists felt, a general distrust among members of the public. The Academy was an independently organized society, not associated with either the American Dental Convention or the American Dental Association, the two other national groups for dentists extant at the time.

At the Academy’s founding meeting on October 19, 1867, E.T. Wilson was named the Academy’s first president with D.M. Parker as vice-president and E.N. Harris as secretary. Elections were held annually thereafter unless a member needed to step down from a position. This was not infrequent as dentists were a mobile profession and the change from ‘member’ to ‘corresponding member’ is frequent in meeting minutes. ‘Corresponding members,’ however, were expected to keep in contact with the organization and contribute to the business of the group.

The Academy held regular meetings from its foundation until the 1980s. Meetings generally included a topical discussion or special presentations and a dinner as well as a regular business meeting. The record books kept by the Academy’s secretaries form a remarkably full record of Academy activities.

Academy members were encouraged to bring before the meeting anything that might educate other members or help the development of dental science as a whole. In the early years of the Academy, patients were often brought in as visual aids when members explained particular techniques or materials they had used. Members also brought in equipment which they had designed or made improvements on, commented on current topics of interest such as the development of mechanical drills or methods of anesthesia, and discussed procedures they had used for dealing with particular kinds of dental work, including accidental injuries, cancers, tumors, syphilitic infections, and congenital deformities of the mouth. Patients were sometimes followed for years as the Academy would request updates on particularly interesting or unique work.

Larger topics were also discussed, often developing into ongoing discussions that lasted for years, such as the debate over the development of dental education in the United States as a whole. Many members of the Academy felt that dentists were under-educated in their field — and, as a result, under-valued — in comparison to other medical professionals, particularly physicians. The open question for many years in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was what should be done about this. Members of the Academy generally held fast to the notion that dentistry was a science distinct from medicine and needed to be studied and trained for as such. Much like obstetricians during the same period, dentists felt that medical students who had taken a single class in basic dentistry or even just studied the anatomy of the skull were taking up dentistry as a career without sufficient preparation and thus devaluing the profession as a whole. Options discussed at the Academy included the foundation of independent dental colleges; requiring medical students to take a basic course of dental science as part of their regular training; or requiring dental students to take a medical course before specializing.

The Academy began to hold annual meetings in 1868 which gradually became large events where members were encouraged to bring wives or colleagues who were not yet members of the Academy. By the 1870s, the Academy was inviting speakers of note to address the meeting, such as Harvard president Charles W. Eliot who spoke in 1879 on the subject of dental education. Other speakers included notable dentists at the time… In 1876, the Academy published A history of dental and oral science in America to be published in time for the American centennial celebrations held in Philadelphia.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Staff Finds: Arthur Hertig and Carnegie #7699

By , July 18, 2017

While processing the papers of Arthur Hertig, Center staff came across drafts and notes from an article by Hertig and John Rock entitled “Two Human Ova of the Previllous Stage, Having an Ovulation Age of about Eleven and Twelve Days Respectively” (Contributions to Embryology 29 (1941): 127-56). The paper describes Carnegie embryos #7699 and #7700, with #7699 being at that point the youngest human ovum discovered by researchers. Hertig was working with Rock and the Carnegie Institution of Washington to conduct studies of early human embryos, research which enabled later advances in the birth control pill and in vitro fertilization.

0004238_ref

Arthur Hertig

The embryos were taken from women who were scheduled to undergo hysterectomies, who were married, under 45, and who had at least two children. Rock’s assistant Miriam Menkin recruited the eligible women, and guided them through the process of recording their body temperature in order to determine their time of ovulation. Loretta McLaughlin, in her book The Pill, John Rock, and the Church, describes the next step in the process:

At this point Rock and Hertig’s version of the instructions given the women differs somewhat from Miriam’s. But it was she, not they, who was dealing directly with the “candidates.” Rock and Hertig hold that the women were advised in the final month to continue their normal pattern of sexual intercourse – but this time without using any precautions to prevent conception. The women were asked to keep a record of the dates of any intercourse, and that was all. Miriam says there was a little more than that to it. Miriam would point out to the candidates “these other women sitting on the bench in the fertility clinic. They are women who would like to have a baby, who can’t. We want to find out more about how to help them by finding out more about the early stages of a baby. “ She would reassure the women that “even if you have intercourse you won’t have a baby because you have to have the operation anyway.” She would hint at least that it would be useful to the research if they had intercourse during the final fertile period. “After all,” she rationalized, “the practical fact of it was that there wasn’t much point in going to all the trouble of preparing the women for the study, if none were going to at least give their eggs a chance to be exposed to their husband’s sperm. There was a crude pregnancy test at the time but it couldn’t work until a woman was six to eight weeks pregnant. Neither we nor they could know whether they were pregnant at the time of the surgery.”

Below are scans from the above-mentioned article drafts. Included are drafts of text and tables demonstrating how Hertig and Rock were able to date the ovum.

For information regarding access to these collections, please contact the Public Services staff.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]
Pocket

Panorama Theme by Themocracy