Category: Archives for Women in Medicine

Event Recap: From Farmer’s Daughter to Physician

By , May 23, 2017
Dr. Gesa Kirsch at Countway Library, 25 April 2017

Dr. Gesa Kirsch at Countway Library, 25 April 2017

On April 25th, Dr. Gesa E. Kirsch, Professor of English at Bentley University, presented on her research about Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter, an early 20th century California physician, civic leader, and women’s rights’ activist, and read from her recently published edition of Dr. Ritter’s memoir More than Gold in California: The Life and Work of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter.

During her talk, Dr. Kirsch detailed Dr. Ritter’s life as a physician. Born in 1860, Dr. Ritter earned her MD at Cooper Medical College in San Francisco in 1886, now the Stanford University School of Medicine. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Ritter taught at UC Berkeley and worked as an advocate for women students. In particular, Dr. Kirsch highlighted the story of how Dr. Ritter worked with women students to get around inequalities in facilities on campus:

For example, the men had had a gymnasium and instruction in gymnastics for years. It was assumed to be beneficial to their health and therefore a necessity. But this argument did not apply to the girls. The idea seemed rather to be that regular gymnastic exercise would be detrimental to their well-being. I sometimes felt as if the masculine powers-that-be thought that women were made of glass and might break to pieces if they fell down. But the girls did not think that way.

In the passing years old Harmon Gymnasium had been enlarged to nearly treble the original size, with offices appended in the rear. This made the girls ambitious, until finally a group visited the instructor of gymnastics beseeching the privilege of using the “gym” part of the time. Reluctantly the instructor said, “Of course you have a right to part time in the gymnasium and I would be willing to give you instruction, but the boys use the gym for dressing for track practice – and – and – the only time possible for your use would be after they go home at five o’clock. I would be willing to give you one hour a week at that time.” After the girls had expressed their gratitude for that crumb, he added, “But I could not possibly admit anyone to the class without a medical examination and there is no money for that.”

Alas for his foxy loop-hole! He had not counted on feminine determination. When a woman wants a thing, she wants it. The girls talked matters over and a day or two later the same group called on me and told me their story, asking if I would be willing to make the medical examinations without pay. I readily consented. This was in 1891. The instructor gallantly allowed me to use the gymnasium examining room with its apparatus for the medical tests. Thus the entering wedge was made for the vast amount of fine training of many sorts which the women students have enjoyed these later years in the beautiful Hearst Gymnasium. Until this present year I have never passed the palatial women’s building and then old Harmon Gymnasium without a broad and somewhat sardonic grin.

Mary Bennett Ritter, More Than Gold in California, 201-203.

Dr. Ritter is known as the first unofficial dean for women at UC Berkeley, and was awarded an honorary PhD by UC Berkeley for her work. She published her autobiography More than Gold in California in 1933 and died in 1949. Dr. Kirsch’s current research explores the rhetorical strategies, professional networks, and social activism of a group of late nineteenth-century women physicians through the Women’s Medical Journal. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend to continue this research.

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June 15: Gender and Risk Perception in the Development of Oral Contraceptives, 1940-1968

By , May 12, 2017

The Archives for Women in Medicine and the The Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation present:

Gender and Risk Perception in the Development of Oral Contraceptives, 1940-1968

2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship Lecture

Kate Grauvogel:  2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow, Doctoral student in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine Department at Indiana University-Bloomington

Kate Grauvogel is an advanced doctoral student in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine Department at Indiana University-Bloomington. Broadly, her research interests include the history of women’s health, especially pathology and psychiatry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her current research focuses on women and experimentation in medicine, particularly the history of blood clotting disorders in reproductive-age women, and how physicians perceived the whole constellation of gender, reproduction, secretions, clots, and associated diseases.

0002376_drefGrauvogel’s dissertation is entitled “A gendered history of pathology: blood clots, women, and hormones in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.” It argues that the bodies of women—whether as obstetric patients, cadavers, or sufferers of side-effects from birth-control pills—shaped pathological theory as well as understandings of the role of secretions (later identifiable as estrogens) in health and disease. It also explores the medical and cultural functions of the Pill in the twentieth century and its impact on women and their lives. In it, she hopes to show how nineteenth-century pathologists and twentieth-century physicians observed pregnant women and women on the birth control pill and gleaned important information from them, such as the idea that fluctuations in estrogens could lead to the formation of dangerous blood clots.

The project as a whole uses primary sources from France, England, and Germany. At the Countway, Grauvogel will add an American perspective from the Boston Hospital for Women Records, 1926–1983, The Free Hospital for Women Records, 1875–1975, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, The Leona Baumgartner Papers, 1830-1979, the Janet Ward McArthur Papers, 1939-2005, and other collections. She will be looking for cases of lying-in illnesses, including blood clotting, which will shed light on how pathologists thought about dangerous blood clots in women as the result of either pregnancy or the Pill. She hopes to emerge with a better grasp of the ailments doctors observed in women, as well as and how they described and thought about such ailments.

 

Thursday, June 15, 2017
5:30pm
Reception at 5:00pm

Waterhouse Room
Gordon Hall
Harvard Medical School
25 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

Free and open to the public.

Registration is required. Register online now through Eventbrite or email us at ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

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April 25: From Farmer’s Daughter to Physician

By , March 28, 2017

The Archives for Women in Medicine presents:

From Farmer’s Daughter to Physician:

The Advocacy, Activism, and Legacy of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter and her Contemporaries

Dr. Gesa Kirsch: Professor of English at Bentley University

ritter_mb

Dr. Gesa Kirsch will discuss Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter, an early 20th-century woman physician, her cohort of Western women physicians, and the role of the Woman’s Medical Journal in creating and sustaining a large professional network of early women physicians. This lecture will speak directly to Dr. Ritter’s life and leadership and why this story is worthy of restoring to medical and women’s history.

Gesa E. Kirsch is Professor of English at Bentley University. Her work in women’s studies and rhetorical studies is extensive; she has authored and coauthored three books and edited five others. In March 2017, she published a new edition of More Than Gold in California, the memoir of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter, an early California physician, civic leader, and women’s rights’ activist (Globe Pequot Press 2017). Her current research explores the rhetorical strategies, professional networks, and social activism of a group of late nineteenth-century women physicians.

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
5:30pm
Reception at 5:00pm

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. Register online now through Eventbrite or email us at ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

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Announcing a new exhibit on the history of women at Harvard Medical School

By , March 7, 2017

A Brief History of Women at Harvard Medical School

“A Brief History of Women at Harvard Medical School” is now on display on Countway Library’s 2nd floor next to the Joint Committee on the Status of Women library collection.

The exhibit, curated by Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, explores the history of women in medicine at Harvard Medical School. It begins with the story of Harriot Kezia Hunt, Harvard’s first woman applicant, and follows the struggles and triumphs of Harvard Medical School’s first women instructors, researchers, professors, and students, as well as the creation of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women and the Archives for Women in Medicine.

An extended digital version of the exhibit is available via OnView.


The Archives for Women in Medicine is a program of the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, processes, preserves, provides access to, and publicizes the papers of women physicians, researchers, and medical administrators. Interested in learning more? Visit countway.harvard.edu/awm or contact Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua.

 

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2017-2018 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship: Applications Open

By , February 15, 2017

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Research Fellowship

Deadline May 15, 2017

Details

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine is pleased to provide one $5,000 grant to support travel, lodging, and incidental expenses for a flexible research period between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Foundation Fellowships are offered for research related to the history of women to be conducted at the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Preference will be given to:

  • projects that engage specifically with the history of women physicians, other health workers or medical scientists; however, proposals on the history of women’s health issues will also be considered
  • those who are using collections from the Center’s Archives for Women in Medicine, but research on the topic of women in medicine using other material from the Countway Library will be considered
  • applicants who live beyond commuting distance of the Countway; however, all are encouraged to apply, including graduate students

In return, the Foundation requests a one page report on the Fellow’s research experience; a copy of the final product (with the ability to post excerpts from the paper/project); and a photo and bio of the Fellow for web and newsletter announcements. The Fellow will also be asked to present a lecture at the Countway Library.

Application Requirements

Applicants should submit a proposal (no more than five pages) outlining the subject and objectives of the research project, length of residence, historical materials to be used, and a project budget (including travel, lodging, and research expenses), along with a curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendations by May 15, 2017. The fellowship proposal should demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic.

Applications should be sent to: The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellowship, Archives for Women in Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, 10 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115. Electronic submissions of applications and supporting materials and any questions may be directed to chm@hms.harvard.edu or (617) 432-2170.

 

Partnering Organizations

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine, soon to be the Women in Medicine Legacy Foundation, was founded with the strong belief that understanding our history plays a powerful role in shaping our future. The resolute stand women took to establish their place in these fields propels our vision forward. We serve as stewards to the stories from the past, and take pride in sharing them with the women of today. Our mission is to preserve and promote the history of women in medicine and the medical sciences, and we look forward to connecting you to our collective legacy that will empower our future.

The Archives for Women in Medicine is a program of the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, processes, preserves, provides access to, and publicizes the papers of women physicians, researchers, and medical administrators. Learn more about collections open to research on our Archives for Women in Medicine Collections page.

Established in 1960 as a result of an alliance between the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical Library, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is the largest academic medical library in the United States. The Countway Library maintains a collection of approximately 700,000 volumes. The Center for the History of Medicine’s collection of archives and manuscripts, numbering between 15-20 million items, is the largest collection of its kind in the United States. The manuscripts collection includes the personal and professional records of physicians from the medieval and Renaissance periods through the twentieth century, including the professional papers of many renowned Harvard faculty members as well as physicians and scientists from New England and around the country.

The 2016-2017 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Research Fellow is Kate Grauvogel, due to conduct research at Countway in June 2017. Previous fellows include Louella McCarthy, Rebecca Kluchin, Ciara Breathnach, Carrie Adkins, and Hilary Aquino.

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17th Alma Dea Morani Award Presented to Paula A. Johnson

By , December 8, 2016

On November 3, 2016, friends and supporters of the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine gathered in New York City to celebrate the 2016 Alma Dea Morani Awardee, Paula A. Johnson MD, MPH.

Paula Johnson

Paula Johnson, 2016 Recipient of the Alma Dea Morani Award. Image used with permission of the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.

The Alma Dea Morani MD Renaissance Woman Award was established to recognize an exceptional woman in medicine or science who demonstrates professional excellence and a passion for learning and service.

Dr. Paula Johnson, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, is the 14th president of Wellesley College, founder and former Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and former Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Johnson also served as the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in the Field of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Johnson is a pioneer in women’s health and sex difference in medical studies and treatment.

At the award ceremony, Dr. Johnson presented on sex differences in research, medicine, health, and public health. Her 2013 Ted Talk, “His and Hers Healthcare” encompasses her passion and her drive for improving the health of women worldwide.

From all of us at the Center for the History of Medicine, congratulations Dr. Johnson!

The Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine and Archives for Women in Medicine are longtime collaborators, and the Center for the History of Medicine is the repository for the Foundation’s Alma Dea Morani Oral History Project. Interviews of past recipients, including Carol Nadelson and Florence Haseltine, are available via Onview.

 

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Elizabeth B. Connell Papers Now Open

By , December 5, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Elizabeth B. Connell papers, 1960-2010 (inclusive), 1970-1990 (bulk) are now open to research.

Elizabeth B. Connell was born in 1925 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received her A.B. and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and 1947 and 1951 respectively. During the late 1950s, she worked in general practice in Blue Hill, Maine; Connell later said that this was when she first became acutely aware of the health issues affecting her female patients, particularly contraception and fertility. Connell and her family moved back to Philadelphia from Maine for her further medical training and, in 1960, she moved to New York City to take an obstetrics residency in gynecology.

After completing her residency, Connell received an American Cancer fellowship which allowed her to gain experience in radical cancer surgery. During the early 1960s in New York, she worked to open family planning clinics in Spanish Harlem. Connell held faculty positions at New York Medical College, Columbia University, and Emory University as well as being on the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation for five years. She was the first woman to chair a Food and Drug Administration panel in 1973.

Connell held positions on many advisory boards and committees including for Planned Parenthood, the Food and Drug Administration, the New York City Department of Health, and the Human Resources Administration. She was a member of a large number of professional organizations, including the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Surgeons, the American Public Health Association, the American Fertility Society, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Medical Women’s International Association, the Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of Health.

The collection reflects Connell’s work primarily between the 1960s and the 1990s. Connell worked on multiple levels to promote open access to birth control and adequate reproductive health care for women in the United States and, to a lesser extent, internationally. Materials in the collection reflect Connell’s work with hospitals, private organizations, and government institutions on a variety of women’s health topics, primarily birth control and breast implant safety. Papers include correspondence, clippings, reprints, publications, and manuscripts, transcripts of court proceedings, and subject files on pharmaceuticals and clinical trials of intrauterine devices. The bulk of the collection is made up of subject files and reprints or publications.

Topics include birth control methods, including early testing and release of the birth control pill and development of intrauterine devices, women’s health outside of the United States, and a large amount of material reflecting Connell’s involvement in the legal activity around the safety and use of silicone breast implants. Researchers should note that Howard J. Tatum, Connell’s second husband, developed an early prototype of the intrauterine device form of contraception: the Tatum-T.

The finding aid for the Elizabeth B. Connell papers can be found here.

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

 

 

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HMS LXX: 70 Years of Women at Harvard Medical School

By , November 15, 2016

 

Excerpts from an oral history interview with Raquel E. Cohen, member of HMS’ first coeducational class compiled for HMS LXX

On October 21, 2016, Harvard Medical School celebrated over 70 years of women at Harvard Medical School. The event highlighted several milestones, including the 70th anniversary of Harvard Medical School’s first coeducational class, the appointment of the 250th woman as a full professor, the 20th anniversary of the Eleanor and Miles Shore 50th Anniversary Fellowship Program for Scholars in Medicine, which supports junior faculty, the funding of the Elizabeth D. Hay Professorship in Cell Biology, the 10th anniversary of the Archives for Women in Medicine, and over 40 years of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women.

The event featured a series of curated conversations with women in medicine, from medical students to international leaders in health, addressing issues of women’s leadership, challenges faced by women in medicine, and work done by women at the forefront of women’s health. The event was punctuated by a keynote conversation with Shirley Tilghman, President Emerita of Princeton University and member of The Harvard Corporation.

First class of women accepted to Harvard Medical School, 1945. (HMS, Classes and Reunions, 00100.057)

First class of women accepted to Harvard Medical School, 1945. (HMS, Classes and Reunions, 00100.057). Cohen is pictured in the top row, second to right.

The “Women’s View at HMS: Then and Now” panel featured a video excerpting highlights from Raquel Cohen’s 2006 oral history interview. Cohen, an internationally recognized expert in the field of intervention and assistance to survivors of disasters, earned her Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1942, and was a student in Harvard Medical School’s first coeducational class, graduating in 1949.

Although Dr. Cohen could not attend HMS LXX in person, highlights of her oral history, curated by Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine Joan Ilacqua, detail just a few moments of her fascinating life story. Dr. Cohen’s full oral history is available via Onview, and additional oral histories with women leaders in medicine and the medical sciences are available at: tiny.cc/womeninmedicine.

To learn more about the Archives for Women in Medicine, visit: countway.harvard.edu/awm.

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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.

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