Category: Collections

Irene E. Kochevar Papers Open to Research

By , November 12, 2019
Headshot photograph of Irene E. Kochevar.

Irene E. Kochevar. Photograph courtesy of Kochevar.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Irene E. Kochevar papers, 1971-2015 (inclusive) are now open to research. Kochevar is Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School. The papers are the product of her career as Biochemist at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, as well as her consulting work, her patents, and her involvement in professional organizations. Kochevar’s work focuses on the effects of ultraviolet radiation on skin, and on photochemical tissue bonding.

Irene Emily (Hejl) Kochevar was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1943. She graduated from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, with a B.S. in biochemistry in 1965, an M.S. in biochemistry in 1967, and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1970. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at New York University, New York, New York, and a postdoctoral fellowship and Assistant Professorship at Columbia University, New York, New York, she was appointed Associate Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1981, with a simultaneous appointment at the Massachusetts General Hospital. She earned the rank of Professor in 1999. Kochevar has received National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense grant awards for her research. She holds several patents for photochemical tissue bonding, a process that involves using ultraviolet light to activate a dye that stimulates cross-linking of proteins. This technique has been used to close skin incisions and to heal corneal injuries.

Shows dark background with textured golden brown shapes on top, from microscope image of cells

Micrograph slide image of cell sample from Kochevar’s research on activation of the Egr-1 gene

The bulk of the collection consists of grant applications from Kochevar’s many research projects at the Wellman Center. The collection also includes correspondence from her consulting work; research notes; patent applications; and photographs from her involvement with professional organizations and committees.

For more information about accessing this collection, please contact the Public Services staff.

 

Checking in from the field: Donna Drucker

By , November 5, 2019

Guest Blogger Donna J. Drucker, MLS, PhD, Technische Universität Darmstadt, 2018–2019 New England Research Fellowship Consortium Fellow

Advertising Contraception in the 1970s and Beyond

Before the legalization of the hormonal pill, advertising of contraceptive methods to U.S. women in the 1930s and 1940s left much to the imagination. Even after the Supreme Court legalized the use of contraception as prescribed by physicians in November 1936, manufacturers mostly depicted the hands and arms of women preparing spermicides and diaphragms (http://www.technologystories.org/materializing-gender-through-contraceptive-technology-in-the-united-states-1930s-1940s/). At most, the instructional packaging would show a sketch of hands placing a diaphragm or spermicide applicator inside the woman’s body. Did the tone of advertising change after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill for contraceptive use in June 1960? Looking at examples available in the Countway Library of Medicine’s collections shows that manufacturers continued to advertise only to a limited group of women for decades afterward.

One example is the image used on a September 1970 flyer for Parke, Davis’s hormonal pill, Norlestrin.

Norlestrin, 1970

 The instructional booklet contained no images of women’s bodies, only images of women’s heads and hands with wedding rings prominently displayed. The woman on the front cover looks thoughtfully at a dandelion in her hands. When the FDA first approved the pill, its approval extended only to married women, and the instructional packaging reflected the company’s consciousness of that fact. Doctors could legally prescribe the pill only to married women until March 1972, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Eisenstadt v. Baird decision extended the right to privacy to unmarried people.

That conservative streak in advertising continued in commercial contraceptive product advertising long after Eisenstadt. The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (BWHBC) Subject Files contain multiple examples of such contraceptive advertising from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s. One of those was in a November 1979 instructional flyer for a Koromex diaphragm.

Koromex diaphragm, 1979

The flyer advertised the spermicidal jellies, creams, and foams that the Holland-Rantos Company recommended women use with the diaphragm. Two of the spermicide packages showed a young, white, blond woman smiling, and two others showed daffodils. A second late-1970s example was for VCF spermicidal film, known in the United Kingdom as C-Film, also depicted the head and hand of a young, white, blond woman. She holds a package of the film with a serious expression, but the film itself is not visible.

VCF spermicide, late 1970s

While spermicides are still available in the U.S. and are marketed for use with barrier methods, they never caught on as methods to use alone.

The last example from the BWHBC Subject Files is an empty package for a product called the Bikini Condom, which appears to have been designed by an Emory University professor of obstetrics and gynecology called Robert A. Hatcher in 1990–1991. In a letter to the company International Prophylactics, Inc. (IPI), Hatcher claimed that “it empowers women,” and that “it has a good future as a contraceptive.”

Bikini Condom, 1990

The package has two images: one of a smiling white brunette woman looking off into the distance and another of the bikini condom itself. IPI briefly manufactured it, but it never seems to have caught on more widely.

By examining these examples of contraceptive advertising for women, it seems that manufacturers only envisioned white, middle-class, well-groomed women using their products. Of course, contraception was a concern of anyone desiring to prevent a pregnancy and engaging in behavior where sperm and egg could meet, but neither major nor minor manufacturers included broader representations of potential customers on their packaging.

Donna may be based in Germany, but check into what she is working on via Twitter @histofsex

Apply now for a 2020-2021 New England Regional Fellowship!

By , November 1, 2019

The New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC) is now accepting applications for 2020-2021 research grants.

This collaboration of thirty major cultural agencies will offer at least twenty awards in 2020–2021. Each grant provides a stipend of $5,000 for a minimum of eight weeks of research at three or more participating institutions beginning June 1, 2020, and ending May 31, 2021. The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine and its Center for the History of Medicine is a NERFC member. Visit the NERFC website for more information and list of participating institutions.

Special award in 2020–2021: The Colonial Society of Massachusetts will underwrite a project on the history of New England before the American Revolution.

Application Process: All applications must be completed using the online form.

Deadline: February 1, 2020

Questions: Contact the Massachusetts Historical Society:
Phone at 617-646-0577 or Email fellowships@masshist.org

Apply Now for a 2020-2021 Boston Medical Library Fellowship!

By , November 1, 2019

Feldtbuch der Wundtartzney
(Gersdorff, Hans von, -1529. / Strassburg, Durch Joannem Schott, 1517) f RD151.G32 Boston Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Since 2003, the Boston Medical Library (BML) in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine has sponsored annual fellowships supporting research in the history of medicine using Center for the History of Medicine collections. BML Fellowships in the History of Medicine at the Countway provide stipends of up to $5,000 to support travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for a flexible period between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Besides conducting research, the fellow will submit a report on the results of his/her residency and may be asked to present a seminar or lecture at the Countway Library.

The collections of the Center for the History of Medicine enable researchers to contextualize, understand, and contribute to the history of human health care, scientific medical development, and public health; they reflect nearly every medical and public health discipline, including anatomy, anesthesiology, cardiology, dentistry, internal medicine, medical jurisprudence, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pharmacy and pharmacology, psychiatry and psychology, and surgery, as well as variety of popular medicine topics and public health subjects such as industrial hygiene, nutrition, and tropical medicine. The Center serves as the institutional archives for the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health, and is home to the Warren Anatomical Museum, which includes anatomical artifacts, pathological specimens, instruments, and other objects. Through the Center, researchers have the opportunity to use the rich historical resources of both the Harvard Medical Library and Boston Medical Library.

Fellowship proposals (no more than 5 pages) should describe the research project and demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic.
Applications should include:
• CV
• Length of visit
• Proposed budget and budget breakdown (travel, lodging, incidentals)
• Two letters of recommendation are also required

Electronic submissions of materials may be sent to: chm@hms.harvard.edu

Boston Medical Library Fellowships
Center for the History of Medicine
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
10 Shattuck Street
Boston, MA 02115.

Application deadline is Friday, February 14th.

Please see our website for more information and details about previous research recipients. Awards will be announced in early April.

New Acquisitions: Thomas J. Smith Papers

By , September 16, 2019

Image courtesy of Harvard University Center for the Environment.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of Dr. Thomas Jay Smith, Professor of Industrial Hygiene Emeritus at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, formerly known as the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Dr. Smith was Professor of Environmental Health at HSPH from 1977 to 1985 and 1993 to 2012; he directed the Industrial Hygiene Program at HSPH from 1993 to 2011. He also taught at University of Massachusetts Medical School from 1980 to 1985 and directed their Division of Environmental Health from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on how to best characterize environmental exposures for studies of health effects. He collaborated with epidemiologists and toxicologists to analyze exposures to several agents, including sulfur dioxide, silicon carbide dust, gasoline vapors, glass and mineral fibers, arsenic, and diesel exhaust.

The Thomas Jay Smith papers, 1972-2017 (inclusive), which are not yet available for research, consist of notebooks, project files, reports, research, conference records, lectures, and manuscripts related to occupational health.

For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

New Acquisitions: Nancy M. Kane Papers

By , September 9, 2019

Image courtesy of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of Dr. Nancy M. Kane, who recently retired from her role as a Professor of Management in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Kane has won numerous teaching awards, and supports case writing and advocates for teaching via the case method. She also directs the Master in Health Care Management Program, an executive leadership program created for mid-career physicians leading healthcare organizations, and teaches in Executive and Masters Degree programs in the areas of health care financial accounting and analysis, payment systems, and competitive strategy. Her research interests have included measuring hospital financial performance, quantifying community benefits and the value of tax exemption, the competitive structure and performance of hospital and insurance industries, nonprofit hospital governance, and the viability of safety-net providers.

The Nancy M. Kane papers, 1970-2018 (inclusive), which are not yet available for research, consist of teaching records, course records, case records, research in hospital finances and financial transparency, records relating to charity care and tax exemptions, US and state health reform records, health care regulation records, Safety Net records, and departmental administrative files.

For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

Warren Museum’s Mystery Box Reveals a “Twilight” Story

By , July 25, 2019

Doctor’s Birthing Kit, circa 1910

Anesthesia history artifacts collected by Bert B. Hershenson, MD

Anesthesia history artifacts collected by Bert B. Hershenson, MD

This mysterious metal box filled with labeled glass bottles and anesthesia paraphernalia was one of the anesthesia history artifacts collected by Bert B. Hershenson, MD, Director of Anesthesia (1942–1956) at the Boston Lying-in Hospital (a Brigham and Women’s parent hospital). It was donated by Mrs. Hershenson to Harvard Medical School’s Warren Anatomical Museum in 1972 with no identifying information other than that it once belonged to a Viennese doctor “two generations ago.” A recent provenance investigation of the box and the objects inside, done here at the Center for the History of Medicine, indicated that the original owner was probably a turn-of-the-century obstetrician who may have been a practitioner of Dämmerschlaf or “Twilight Sleep.”

Picture of the March 7, 1915 Boston Sundat Post newspaper article, "Scores of Twilight Sleep Babies in Hub"

Boston Sunday Post, March 7, 1915. “Scores of Twilight Sleep Babies in Hub”

Twilight Sleep was introduced in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. A combination of morphine, to mitigate pain, and scopolamine to cause amnesia, was given by injection to women in labor. Its effectiveness in preventing pain was minimal. Its true effectiveness was in causing many women to forget the pain and the subsequent extreme, sometimes violent, behavior the drug combination often caused. In 1914, reports of “pain free” deliveries in Europe gave rise in the U.S. to the National Twilight Sleep Association, which successfully campaigned for the widespread adoption of the technique. However, in 1915 Mrs. Francis X. Carmody, a leader of the organization, died in childbirth. Although probably unrelated to the drugs, news of her death and subsequent safety concerns caused a fall from favor of Twilight Sleep in America and the end of the Association. Newer variations on the technique did continue through the 1960s until the advent of the natural childbirth movement.

Object list:

Metal box (for easy sterilization) from medical supply house Medicinisches Waarenhaus: Berlin

Esmarch type inhaler (style introduced in 1877). The wire mask covered by a cloth kept chloroform from touching the patient’s face.

Chloroform, a surgical anesthetic.

Erogotin, used to treat excessive bleeding and to speed up labor.

Camphor, traditionally used as a topical analgesic, or to control nausea.

Morphium, for pain relief.

Unidentified bottle, with the handwritten word “injection’ in German.

Dr. Vomel brand catgut, probably used for tying off the umbilical cord.

Warren Anatomical Museum Collection, Center for the History of Medicine
in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Edris Rice-Wray Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Edris Rice-Wray papers, 1937-1983 (inclusive), 1960-1970 (bulk) are now open to research.

Edris Rice-Wray was born in 1904 in New York City, New York and received her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1927. She went on to attend Northwestern University Medical School and receive her M.D. in 1932 with a focus on public health work.

In 1948, Rice-Wray went to Puerto Rico as a health district director. In 1950, she was appointed Director of the Public Health Training Center, a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Puerto Rico, and as Medical Director of the Puerto Rico Planned Parenthood. During her time in Puerto Rico, Rice-Wray collaborated with John Rock (1890-1984) and Gregory Pincus (1903-1967) on the trials of oral contraceptives on Puerto Rican women.

In 1957, Rice-Wray joined the World Health Organization and moved to Mexico to work as Medical Officer for Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In 1958 she founded and became the President of the Asociación Pro-Salud Maternal, the first family planning clinic in Mexico. She held this position until 1972 when she became Honorary President and Chief Technical Consultant for the Asociación. During the 1970s, she moved from Mexico City to Cholula in Puebla, Mexico, where she continued to work in reproductive medicine and held a teaching position at the University of the Americas Puebla.

Rice-Wray was married and had daughters. She died in 1990 in San Andres Cholula, Puebla, Mexico.

The collection consists of records created or collected by Edris Rice-Wray in the course of her career working with family planning institutions, primarily in Mexico including letters and enclosures from individuals and groups, including corporations, government offices, and academic institutions. Topics include conferences, professional visits to Rice-Wray’s Mexico City clinic, clinical trials of various types of contraceptives, the activities of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and the politics of birth control in Mexico. Also included are records of publications Rice-Wray authored and co-authored in various stages of preparation, including final reprints.

Papers are in English and Spanish.

Wives of Aesculapius Records Now Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Wives of Aesculapius records, 1908-1989 (inclusive), 1920-1960 (bulk) are now open for research.

The Wives of Aesculapius was founded in 1910 as an adjunct organization to the Aesculapian Club, a student organization at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, since women were not accepted as members to the latter organization. The Wives existed as a separate association until 1972 when the two groups merged.

The Wives pursued activities similar to those of the Aesculapian Club including an annual dinner for the membership and extensive fund-raising activities for the benefit of Harvard Medical School students. The Wives were responsible for the foundation of a leisure reading collection on the medical school campus as well as providing furnishings for student spaces in Vanderbilt Hall. For many years, the Wives also produced a Spring Play, usually written, performed, and produced by members of the Wives.

Participation and interest in the Wives organization dropped steadily during the late 1950s and 1960s and the decision was made by the remaining members to disband and merge with the Aesculapian Club. The Wives formally ceased to exist as their own club in 1972.

The records reflect the formation, administration, and activities of the Wives, including records reflecting the initial organization and operation of the Wives, including correspondence, executive committee meeting minutes, lists of duties for officers, membership lists, and membership surveys. Also included here are records reflecting the social events sponsored by the Wives, primarily the “Spring Play,” which was usually written and performed by members of the group. There is also a small amount of memorabilia: three scrapbooks, unbound scrapbook pages, a rubber stamp, a seal, and a gavel.

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