Category: Collections

L. Vernon Briggs Papers Now Open

Picture of a model hospital ward from the L. Vernon Briggs Papers.

Photograph of a model hospital ward from the L. Vernon Briggs Papers.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the L. Vernon Briggs papers, 1774-1940 (inclusive), 1911-1938 (bulk) to research.

L. (Lloyd) Vernon Briggs (1863-1941), M.D., 1889, Medical College of Virginia at Richmond was a psychiatrist and medical reformer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was active in seeking changes to the laws regarding the evaluation and incarceration of the mentally ill and in suggesting reforms to the asylum, prison, hospital systems in the Commonwealth. He married Mary Tilotson Cabot in 1905; the couple had one child, Lloyd Cabot Briggs (1909-1975).

The collection reflects the work of L. Vernon Briggs  in psychiatry and medical reform, particularly in the fields of asylum conditions and the care of the mentally ill. Briggs was an active member of the medical community in Boston from the late 1880s to the late 1930s. Topics in the collection include the oversight of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts state hospital system, the administration and reform of the State Board of Insanity, Briggs’ ocean trip to Hawaii, and the care and treatment of the mentally ill including such issues as asylum inmate restraint and drug prescription.

The papers include correspondence, photographs, magazine and newspaper clippings, publications, manuscripts, blueprints, and legislation. Also included is a small number of artifacts, including quills used by the Governor’s Office for the formal signing of legislation, and botanical specimens gathered by Briggs on the West Coast.

The finding aid for the L. Vernon Briggs papers can be found here.

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

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Processing Staff Finds: Paul Charles Zamecnik and transfer RNA

By , June 6, 2017

In 1956, Dr. Paul Charles Zamecnik (1912-2009) and colleagues Dr. Mahlon Hoagland (1921-2009) and Dr. Mary Louise Stephenson (1921-2009) discovered a critical element  of the protein synthesis pathway, the molecule that carries amino acids to the ribosome, where they are linked to create a chain that folds to form a protein. That molecular was initially called sRNA, standing for “soluble RNA,” and later became known as tRNA, or “transfer RNA.”

 

Data from Zamecnik's research into ribosomal structures, which led to the discovery of transfer RNA (front of page)

Data from Zamecnik’s research into ribosomal structures, which led to the discovery of transfer RNA (front of page)

 

During the processing of the Paul Charles Zamecnik papers, processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine recently found research data related to the discovery of transfer RNA. The files include materials dated as early as April 1953 and into July 1956, around the time of the discovery. The papers included notes that describe them as the “original experimental data on t-RNA” and “first 1955 experiments on sRNA.” The notes themselves include experiment procedures, hypotheses, and results, as well as related charts and graphs.

 

Data from Zamecnik's research into ribosomal structures, which led to the discovery of transfer RNA (back of page)

Data from Zamecnik’s research into ribosomal structures, which led to the discovery of transfer RNA (back of page)

The data, accompanied by notes, are now included in the Paul C. Zamecnik papers that are being processed right now, and will be part of the series focused on research notes relating to RNA more generally.  This is but one of the topics of Zamecnik’s research during his time leading the Huntington Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital and as the Collis P. Huntington Professor of Oncologic Medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, Massachusetts.

Data from Zamecnik's research that led to the discovery of transfer RNA

Data from Zamecnik’s research that led to the discovery of transfer RNA

After retiring from Harvard Medical School, Zamecnik joined Dr. Mahlon Hoagland and continued his research at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Worcester, Massachusetts. Records relating to the scientific research completed at the Worcester Foundation as well as documentation of the formation and running of that organization with Dr. Hoagland are also included in the collection.

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Staff Finds: “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” and “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack”: Planet Health Workshops and Their Materials

By , May 16, 2017
The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

In the mid-1990s, the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) conducted workshops at schools in the Boston metropolitan area as part of its implementation of a randomized control trial of Planet Health, a middle-school-based interdisciplinary wellness curriculum. One series of workshops provided training to introduce teachers to Planet Health, but another series was specifically aimed at promoting wellness for teachers and staff, and included a workshop entitled “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” Center staff found records of these workshops, as well as game pieces used in workshop activities, while processing the records of the HPRC.

The wellness workshops for teachers and staff were offered as part of the Planet Health curriculum in 1997. “Fitness After 25” discussed the physiological and psychological changes that take place in the body after a person turns 25. A four-week-long course on stress management investigated ways stress can be used advantageously and also taught stress-reduction techniques and exercises. “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back” offered instruction on how to build and maintain stronger bones for the participants as well as their families and students. Participants received professional development points for attending each workshop. In addition to these workshops, the program organized a walking group that met once a week for seven weeks at each of the participating schools.

The workshops that teachers attended to learn about that year’s Planet Health curriculum and its thematic units included many different activities, which may also have been used in the classroom with students. Staff found pieces for a game called “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” cards for a concentration game called “Concentrate on Fat Facts,“ cards for a game called “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” as well as a variety of food models used for games about nutrition.

In “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” teams received a set of puzzle pieces that listed different amounts of time the average sixth or seventh grader spent sleeping, sitting in class, sitting outside of class, standing, and being active daily. Teams were instructed to choose the pieces that added up to a pie chart with the correct amounts of time. In “Concentrate on Fat Facts,” teams played concentration with a twist: matching a question card with the correct answer card.  In “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” teams answered questions about fruits, vegetables, and general nutrition for points, trying to get as close to 21 points as possible.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

The food models were used for several different games about nutrition. In one game, players chose the food with the higher sodium content from a series of pairs: ground beef and a hot dog; apple pie and applesauce; a tortilla and tortilla chips. In another game using the hot dog, peanut butter, ground beef, fish sticks, roast beef, halibut, and navy beans food models, players arranged the models in order of highest to lowest fat content. In a third game, players matched a variety of food models (with their nutrition information covered) to their corresponding nutritional value cards (with the food names covered).

The Planet Health curriculum was first developed in 1995 and continues today to give middle school students the knowledge and tools to make good decisions about their nutrition and physical fitness. The HPRC, now called The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard School of Public Health, was founded in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts to work with local, community, and governmental organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Its programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth.

The HPRC collection is expected to be open to research in the spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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Records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development Now Open to Research

By , May 12, 2017
Faculty members of the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Maternal and Child Health, reading a Growth Study Case History. Seated: Bertha S. Burke, Harold C. Stuart, and Elizabeth P. Rice. Standing: Samuel W. Dooley and Samuel B. Kirkwood, circa 1949.

Faculty members of the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Maternal and Child Health, reading a Growth Study Case History. Seated: Bertha S. Burke, Harold C. Stuart, and Elizabeth P. Rice. Standing: Samuel W. Dooley and Samuel B. Kirkwood, circa 1949, H MS c450. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development, 1918-2015 (inclusive), 1930-1989 (bulk), are now open to research. The longitudinal studies, otherwise known as the Harvard Growth Study, were founded in 1930 by Harold Coe Stuart (1891-1976) in the school’s Department of Maternal and Child Health. It was one of several United States growth studies that were initiated in response to a recognized lack of knowledge about child health and development. The original study enrolled 309 prenatal subjects between 1930 and 1939, 134 of whom were followed through to maturity (18 years). Researchers tracked subjects’ health, physical development, diet, and social and psychological functioning. The data from this and other growth studies were used to create pediatric growth curves and percentile charts that became the standard used by pediatricians across the country.

Infant boys anthropometric growth chart, created with data from the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development.

Infant boys anthropometric growth chart, created with data from the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Recognizing the reuse potential of the rich data collected during the original study, investigators periodically called subjects back for more targeted follow-up studies over the following decades.  A 30-year follow-up study on adult health related to child health was conducted between 1960 and 1969; a 40-year follow-up on blood pressure and cardiac health was held between 1970 and 1979; and two 50-year follow-up studies on gynecology and memory of diet in the distant past took place between 1980 and 1989.

The records comprise research data from the original and all four follow-up studies. There is a variety of data types and formats, including: physical examinations and medical records; anthropometric measurements and growth curves; progressive somatotype photographs; somatotype family trees; nutrition and diet surveys; social work interviews and reports; and various medical test results. The data is accompanied by methodologies, protocols, codebooks, reports, grant files, subject participation records, personnel records, and related administrative records.  The collection also includes manuscript drafts and publications composed by Growth Study staff members, and collected publications, brochures, and pamphlets related to maternal and child health.

Family Physical Characteristics Key, created during the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development.

Family Physical Characteristics Key, created during the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

This is the first of four collections to be processed under the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library Resources.  For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

For more information on the Growth Study and the collection, please view the online finding aid:

http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/primo?id=med00211&q=undefined

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Staff Finds: Netter’s Clinical Symposia Illustrations and Other Publications and Pamphlets

By , May 10, 2017
Clinical Symposia 21, no. 1 (January-March 1969). Topics: “The Surgical Treatment of Myocardial Ischemia” and “Surgical Treatment of Cardiac Valvular Disease.” H MS c477

Clinical Symposia 21, no. 1 (January-March 1969). Topics: “The Surgical Treatment of Myocardial Ischemia” and “Surgical Treatment of Cardiac Valvular Disease.” H MS c477. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the papers of Marie C. McCormick (born 1946), Center staff found a collection of interesting pamphlets and publications on a range of topics. McCormick collected these materials as reference in her professional and research activities. Among those best represented in the collection are issues of the journal Clinical Symposia. The journal was published from 1948 to 1999 by Ciba Pharmaceutical Products, Inc. More than 250 issues of Clinical Symposia were illustrated by Frank Netter, M.D.; many of those illustrations were compiled into the 13 volume The CIBA Collection of Medical Illustrations (1953). Even after he retired in the early 1970s, Netter continued to produce illustrations at the astonishing rate of a new image every several days. In 1989, two years before he passed away at the age of 85, Netter published the Atlas of Human Anatomy, which was widely adopted at American medical schools and across the world. In all, Netter painted more than 4,000 medical illustrations during his lifetime (Hansen, 482-483).

Other publications collected by McCormick demonstrate the types of health and parenting advice that were distributed to parents in the late 20th century. They include a 1984 booklet entitled “Childhood Vaccination: Current Controversies,” a 1979 pamphlet entitled “What Parents Should Know about Shoes, Twisted or Bent Legs, and Flatfeet in Children,” which has easy-to-understand diagrams, and an undated booklet entitled “What Are the Facts about Genetic Disease?” which includes charts explaining how dominant, X-linked, and recessive inheritance works.

Also of interest is the graphic design on the covers of pamphlets. “Regional Emergency Medical Communications Systems” (1978) draws the eye with an interesting stylization of a warning light, “The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” (1976) implies a harrowing situation, and “Cleaning Products and Their Accidental Exposure” (1989) subtly connects women with housework through dress-like bottle designs.

These examples and more can be found in the Marie C. McCormick papers, 1956-2016 (inclusive), 1968-2009 (bulk), which are expected to be open to research in spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

 

Reference
John T. Hansen. “Frank H. Netter, M.D. (1906-1991): The Artist and His Legacy.” Clinical Anatomy 19 (2006): 481-486.

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Staff Finds: Planet Health Curriculum Materials

By , May 10, 2017
Planet Health Power Down button, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598.

Planet Health Power Down button, from the Harvard Prevention Planet Health Power Down button, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the records of The Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC), Center staff found a variety of educational materials produced for the Planet Health curriculum in the mid-1990s. The project began in 1995 and today continues to produce curriculum for middle school teachers and physical education teachers to teach healthy decision-making regarding nutrition, exercise, and leisure activities, while also supporting learning in traditional subject areas.

The interactive worksheets and handouts found include a FitCheck score sheet and a Fitness Folder. The FitCheck score sheet first asked students to calculate their “Fit Score” and “Sit Score” by adding up how much time they spent doing physical activities like sports, chores, or walking to school and how much time they spent sitting down watching TV and playing video games.  Then, students set a goal to be more active or to stay active and wrote how they would achieve it. Fitness Folders contained multiple FitCheck sheets, pages to write year-long goals, and examples of goals and activities to help achieve them.

Center staff also found a button and curriculum materials that were produced for the program’s Power Down initiative. Students who participated in the Power Down program pledged to watch less than two hours of TV per day (including watching movies or playing video games) for one week, and then kept track of how well they adhered to their pledge. In addition to worksheets for tracking TV consumption, items found include an Alternative Activities sheet that provided a list of ideas for things to do instead of watching TV. The majority of these ideas were compiled by a group of seventh graders and include activities such as bowling, four-square, listening to music, jujitsu, walking the dog, and yoga. However, the list includes some unexpected ideas, such as having a party, having a pillow fight, playing Mouse Trap, redecorating, shoveling snow, visiting a farm, and yodeling.

The HPRC, now called The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard School of Public Health, was founded in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts to work with local, community, and governmental organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Its programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits, in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth.

The collection is expected to be open to research in the spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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Processing of the Harvard Prevention Research Center Records

By , March 29, 2017
Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center's Planet Health Curriculum.

Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center is pleased to announce that the records of the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC), 1992-2003, are currently being processed as part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project. The Harvard Prevention Research Center at the Harvard School of Public Health (as of 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), was founded in 1998. The Center works with local, community, and government organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits, in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth. As of 2016, the Center is nested under the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Steven L. Gortmaker (born 1949) serves as Principal Investigator and Director, and Angie Cradock is the Deputy Director.

The collection is a product of two research projects and educational interventions developed and implemented by the Harvard Prevention Research Center under the direction of Steven Gortmaker: Planet Health (1995-), funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a university gift; and the Play Across Boston project (1999-2001), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Planet Health is a middle-school-based wellness curriculum developed for use by teachers and physical education instructors to teach healthy decision-making regarding nutrition, exercise, and leisure activities, while also supporting learning in traditional subject areas. Planet Health records, dated 1992-1997, were developed during the randomized control trial conducted to produce the curriculum, and include: student activity and diet worksheets; teacher and student focus group transcripts and recordings; wellness workshop records; student-made activity graphs; analyzed data; and research administrative records. Play Across Boston was a collaborative initiative with Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, to survey and evaluate the availability of after-school fitness activity programs for Boston-area youth, and to determine how both access to these resources and individual family characteristics influence youth physical activity. The project surveyed youth participation in 237 programs in the greater Boston area. Play Across Boston records are dated 2000-2003, and consist of: student surveys regarding participation in organized physical activity outside of school hours; and fitness program provider surveys concerning details of program offerings and student participation during the school year and summer vacation months.

The collection is expected to be open to research in 2017. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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Arthur Hertig Papers Open to Research

By , March 10, 2017
Arthur Hertig

Arthur Hertig

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the reopening of the Arthur Tremain Hertig papers, 1922-1987. Hertig (1904-1990) was a pathologist, human embryo researcher, and professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. Hertig collaborated with John Rock to conduct studies of early human embryos, research which enabled later advances in the birth control pill and in vitro fertilization. Hertig was also Shattuck Professor of Pathological Anatomy and Chairman of the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. After stepping down as Chairman in 1968, Hertig moved to the New England Regional Primate Research Center in the Division of Pathobiology.

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Arthur Hertig

The papers are the product of Hertig’s activities as a pathologist, embryology researcher, author, and Harvard Medical School faculty member. The papers contain: Hertig’s professional correspondence and research records, including those records related to his human embryo research with John Rock; Harvard Medical School records; records from professional meetings and conferences; notes and illustrations from his time as a student at the University of Minnesota, along with photographs and other personal records.

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

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

 

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Processing of the Steven L. Gortmaker Papers

By , March 3, 2017
Steven L. Gortmaker.

Steven L. Gortmaker, M-AD06. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Steven Lawrence Gortmaker (born 1949), is Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, and Director and Principal Investigator of the school’s Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity. His research has primarily focused on the health and mortality risks affecting children and adolescents, especially among low-income and minority groups, and interventions aimed at mitigating those risks. Toward these ends, he served as Principal Investigator for numerous research initiatives at the Harvard Prevention Research Center, including: Planet Health (1995-2007); the Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP) (2009-2015); and Play Across Boston (1999-2009). He was also Co-Director of the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES), and Senior Advisor to the Healthy Eating Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He was the 1997 recipient of the 1997 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. The Center is pleased to announce that Gortmaker’s papers, dated 1959-1997, are currently being processed.

The records are the product of Gortmaker’s personal and professional activities during his service at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (previously Harvard School of Public Health), and include: research and administrative records for the Rural Infant Care Program and Child Health Studies (1975-1996), the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1963-1985), and the Partnership for Organ Donation (1992-1997); administrative records for the Harvard School of Public Health departments of Behavioral Sciences and Health and Social Behavior; teaching records for courses in the Department of Health and Social Behavior related to statistics, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS; and collected publications. The records are expected to be open to research in 2017.

The records of the Harvard Prevention Research Center are also currently being processed at the Center.

Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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