Category: Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives

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

BWH Unlocks Historic Hospital Reports, 1875–1979

By , June 30, 2016

"1933. Boston, Mass. P.B.B.H. Dr. Cushing at the desk in the south office room." Harvey Cushing at his desk in his post-retirement office. Photographer: Richard Upjohn LightDid you know that Brigham and Women’s Hospital was created by the merger last century of four famous Boston institutions? The legacy of these four, whose combined history dates back to 1832, is reflected in the name—Brigham, for the Peter Bent Brigham and the Robert B. Brigham Hospitals—and Women’s for two women’s hospitals, the Boston Lying-in and the Free Hospital for Women (collectively known since 1966 as the Boston Hospital for Women).

The BWH Medical Library and Archives has sponsored the digitization and posted online complete runs of the annual reports for two of these venerable ancestors, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, (1913–1979) and the Free Hospital for Women, (1875–1965) which represent some of the richest resources available, not only for information on BWH history, but also on the evolution of medicine as practiced at hospitals. (The reports for the Boston Lying-in Hospital, 1875–1966, will be available online later this year.)

Gone Fishing

If you can’t imagine yourself reading any annual report if you didn’t have to, you might change your mind for these. The presentation of information about the financial and professional activities of organizations in the 19th and 20th centuries was very different from that which we are familiar with in the 21st. Not the same thing at all. Since modern company reports also serve a marketing and publicity function, the resulting publication can sometimes have the flavor of a hyperbole sandwich with a dry statistical filling. Presented with a graphically sophisticated brand identity and an abridged writing style, modern annual reports are designed for an Internet-connected world which reflects the probability of reaching, not only its board of trustees and investors, but also a largely unknowable, skim-and-click audience.

A 20th century version, however, could include anything from a monologue on the dangers of complacency in the post-war hospital to a friendly story about a doctor’s fishing trip to Newfoundland.

46th Annual Report of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, 1959. Cover.At the old Peter Bent Brigham Hospital these yearly communications were written in narrative style and reflected the unscrubbed musings of the department head tasked with making the report. Along with the expected statistics on admissions and treatments, notes on staff, department activity highlights, research objectives planned and met, and publications, the hospital department heads, having a reasonable expectation of a limited audience for their words, often included anecdotes, editorial commentary on hospital policy, the history of their field, or the advancements in medical science as they were realized.

You can follow the footprints of many steps in the march towards modern medicine in these reports. The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital was in the vanguard of successful experimentation in heart surgery, the rise of neurosurgery as a specialty, the development of the “iron lung,” kidney dialysis, organ transplantation, antibiotics, and the professionalization of nursing. The Free Hospital for Women produced some of the most important advancements in medical science related to women’s health. You can also learn the effects on the staffs and the practice of medicine due to crises—local and global—such as epidemics, disasters, and war. For those of us interested in the lineage of the big and small ideas that became professional doctrine, a trip through the old-style hospital reports will be illuminating.

For example: One of PBBH’s most famous alums, neurosurgeon, Dr. Harvey Cushing, applied his graphomania (archivist’s diagnosis) to his surgeon-in-chief reports up until his retirement in 1931. Dr. C recorded the evolving organization of the new hospital’s surgery division. He spent 9 pages of his 1920 report discussing the success of the Brigham’s implementation of the new “residential system” introduced to American teaching hospitals by Dr. William Osler at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1890s, and the Brigham’s own novel adaptation to the Hopkins model—the “full-time service” idea. This idea allowed chiefs-of-service, assistant physicians and surgeons to have offices at the hospital in order to devote their undivided attention to it, rather than having more than one place of business. Imagine that.

Barrel of Apples

The Free Hospital for Women Annual Reports carry us back even further, to a time—flip-flopped from our 21st century experience—when hospitals were created by those whose higher social class expected at-home medical care, for those so poor their only option was to be treated at a hospital. In 1875, the Free Hospital for Women (and it really was free!) was opened with 5 beds “for poor women affected with diseases peculiar to their sex or in need of surgical aid” by a volunteer triumvirate of socially conscious medical men, church men, and well-to-do ladies.

The earliest FHW annual reports reveal just how dependent health care was on the “kindness of strangers” in the 19th century. Sponsor a bed for $150 (about $3300 in today’s money) and you got a seat on the governing board plus the option to decide who could be admitted as a patient to that bed. A substantial donation to the hospital got you your name listed in the annual report, similar to our contemporary custom, however, the definition of “substantial” has certainly evolved over the past century. The 1876 donor list reports contributions such as a “demijohn of whiskey”, “a barrel of apples,” “one ton of coal,” “a hair mattress,” — the lists are charmingly detailed. Donation reports of this nature were included in FHW annual reports through the 1930s.

Free Hospital for Women, Fearing Lab, Olive and George Van Siclen Smith, circa 1934.Filling a desperately needed niche, the Free Hospital for Women saw the rapid growth of the size of its physical plant along with its role in women’s health research. Its yearly reports offer the curious a chance to devour a banquet of data on the genesis and progression of ideas in women’s health. Just to mention a few, the FHW led in the adoption of antisepsis techniques in hospitals, opened the earliest cancer wards, achieved in-vitro fertilization, and created the birth control pill. Not bad for a place that started with 5 beds and a barrel of apples.

These type of narrative yearly reports ended at the Brigham in the early 1980s, soon after its four parent hospitals moved in together under one roof. The pace and complexity of such a large institution likely made continuing the more personal style of reports impossible.

The reports are freely available and searchable online via the above links or through the Harvard Hollis Library catalog. Permalinks:

Free Hospital for Women Annual Reports

Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Annual Reports



Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives Collections—Spotlight

By , May 28, 2016

Remembering Brigham’s women volunteers of World War I via a storied artifactBrigham and Women's Hospital Archives, BWH c3, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Records. Volunteer workers in the Home Work Department of the New England Surgical Dressings Committee workrooms at 238 Beacon St. (Residence of Mrs. L. Carteret Fenno). Left to right: Miss Elizabeth Train, Mrs. Hatherly Foster, Jr., Mrs. Charles Rowley. [Photo is stamped with date "MAR 17 1918". Photo purchased for BWH archives from Historic Images, Memphis Tennessee, via eBay.]

“An organization called the Surgical Dressings Committee has started work in the Zander Ward of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. The office, workroom, storage and packing rooms are all in the ward. Here fifty different surgical dressings are prepared for the small French hospitals. There are over 300 volunteers from Greater Boston who work in groups for several hours each day under the supervision of trained nurses, the work being inspected by the hospital surgeons. After sterilization, the dressings are packed for transportation in hermetically sealed tins. These are placed in wooden boxes, of a size and shape to be easily handled.”

This American Journal of Nursing article published in December of 1915 announced the start of an organization whose work became so important to saving the lives of wounded soldiers that Dr. Harvey Cushing, 1st Surgeon-in-Chief of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and leader of Base Hospital #5, the Harvard military hospital unit serving in France during WWI, Surgical Dressings Plaque3awas moved to create a memorial tablet for it with the intention of permanently embedding it in the walls of his hospital. The 3 foot tall plaque—gold engraved letters in bronze mounted on stone—was installed just outside the Zander Ward and dedicated in a formal ceremony on May 25th 1923. It was removed and placed in storage at an unknown point years later, probably during one of the hospital’s many remodeling projects. Currently the plaque is cared for at the Center for the History of Medicine in the Countway Library as one of the treasures of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives Collections. The engraved text reads:

“To commemorate the pioneer work of the Surgical Dressings Committee. Through their labors, which centered in this building October 1915 to June 1918, eighteen million dressings made by six thousand women throughout New England were assembled, sterilized, sealed in tins, and shipped to Europe for the wounded of the allied armies.”

The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in July of 1923 reprinted “The Boston Tins,” Cushing’s address at the unveiling of the plaque. In it he described the two approaches necessary for one to convalesce from the devastation of war: forgetfulness—and remembrance.

“…to dwell upon such bright episodes as glow from the background of our otherwise somber recollections—the times and occasions when people did sane, wholehearted and unselfish things in behalf of a stricken world. Many of these things were done by women.”

We know much about the things done by the women of the Surgical Dressings Committee and of Cushing’s efforts to memorialize them, A letter book, bound, containing documentation about the WWI Surgical Dressings Committee and a tablet erected in its honor.from the letters, receipts, and recollections assembled and bound in a scrapbook by Dr. Cushing himself. In 1972, someone doing a closet cleaning in a hospital conference room found and discarded the dusty volume.  Luckily, an observant surgical resident, recognizing its historic value, rescued it from the trash. He recently donated the scrapbook back to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital for the Archives.

The 100th anniversary of the “Great War” seems an opportune time to be reminded, thanks to the plaque and the scrapbook, that the name, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, reflects a legacy, not only of caring for women patients, but also for the historic service of its women staff and volunteers.

Online Now!: “The Alumnae Journal” (1920–1946) of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing

By , July 15, 2015
Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing, Alumnae, probably

Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing Homecoming, May 1941.

The Alumnae Journal

“…mud, so deep that it did not fully dry between the rains” recalled instructor S.A. Watson of the day in November of 1912, when the superintendent’s house, the only completed building of the new Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, opened as the first home of the PBBH School of Nursing. Five intrepid young women, willing to pick their way through the mud and construction debris, baggage in hand, moved into the house with their teachers to become the first students of the newly established school.

Eight years and 88 graduates later the school’s Founder and Director, Carrie M. Hall, R.N., thought it was time to start a 004419142_1920_00001apublication for the alumnae “ …to keep the graduates of the School in close touch with each other and with the hospital, to provide channels for the exchange of ideas, and columns for the telling of the experiences of all.”

With a bit of prescience Miss Hall went on to say, “It is expected that the doings of the school will be chronicled in such fashion as may in after years be regarded as an authentic history of the activities and progress of the School.” It did progress to become one of the 20th-century’s preeminent training schools, graduating 2618 nurses before it closed in 1985. Ninety-five years after the creation of the first volume, the school’s current Alumni Association has made Hall’s anticipated “authentic history” accessible by sponsoring the online publication of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing, The Alumnae Journal, from the collections of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives.

From our perspective in 2015, the Alumnae Journal offers a chance to watch the steps toward the professionalization of 004419142_1937no1_00019anursing in the first half of the 20th century, but from 1920 to 1946, the Journal served a threefold function in the world of the PBBHSoN alumnae, and also to a larger audience of career nurses. As an alumni newsletter it contained the expected minutes of 004419142_1923no1_00005ameetings, news of class marriages, births, deaths; and chummy notes about individuals’ lives and job status. It was also the de facto yearbook—listing graduates, and containing reminiscences about school life, poems, and anecdotes. The third function of the Alumnae Journal was as a forum for issues in the field of nursing. With editorials and articles on wages, working conditions, and education standards, plus articles and case studies on medical advances that affected nursing practice, the Journal was a way for nurses to keep up to date as their chosen careers evolved.

A small sampling of Alumnae Journal articles:

004419142_1921no2_00025aThe Alumnae Association seems to have had no trouble finding advertisers for its biannual volume. 004419142_1937no1_00032aIt is fascinating to look through the ads pitched at nurses of the time. They include everything from sterile catgut and artificial limbs to girdles and beauty shops.

Although there is no record of why the Alumnae Journal stopped publication after its 1946 issue, it may be safe to surmise that the school in the postwar years let it go, as other, similar publications began to cover the same territory. For alumni, The Alumnae News, a small typewritten newsletter, began circulation in 1947. For graduates, the “White Caps,” a more traditional student yearbook, also began publication in 1947. Many more nursing journals had entered the field to offer articles of interest to professional nurses.

With many thanks to the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association for making it possible, The Alumnae Journal, 1920–1946, will always be available online via Hollis, the Harvard library catalog, and via links on the BWH Archives page on the Countway Library site.



Brigham and Women’s Hospital Opens “Inside Story” to the Public

By , June 5, 2015

BWH Newsletter Collage2If you are curious about the mise en scène at Boston’s legendary Peter Bent Brigham Hospital during the war years of the 1940s, its transplant breakthroughs of the 1950s, its merger dreams of the 1960s, its spreading out and spreading up through the 1970s, or its post-merger incarnation as the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in the 1980s and 1990s, then click the links above or these (Brigham Bulletin, Inside AHC, Inside Brigham and Women’s, Inside BWH, BWH Bulletin) and have a poke around the historic staff newsletters.

Thanks to the support of the BWH Medical Library, the third and final phase of the BWH Archives Newsletter Digitization Project is complete. The Brigham and Women’s Hospital inside story—every year from 1943 through 1999*—is now online and fully searchable.

Exclusively for employees, the newsletters, produced by the Public Relations office about the people, projects, and accomplishments of the hospital, were written in a more intimate style than its other, official publications.

Found in the newsletters—some fun facts and firsts that you probably didn’t know:

  • The original shop at the Brigham was opened by the Friends of the Brigham in 1944. They sold magazines, candy, toiletries—and tobacco.
  • In May of 1954, a Biophysics Research Laboratory opened at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, the first of its kind in a hospital setting.BrigBull_1961_Spring_cartoon
  • Volunteers wheeled carts stocked with library books and magazines around the hospital for patients to freely choose from, throughout the 1950s. In 1958, the Institute for Contemporary Art added the “Art Cart” which supplied a choice of framed art prints for patients to use for personal enjoyment during their hospital stay.
  • Dr. Victoria Maxwell Cass was the acting Director of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital from 1957-1958. She had been Associate Director since 1952.
  • In 1960, televisions and radios were added to patients’ rooms.
  • King Saud of Saudi Arabia came to the Brigham for treatment in 1961. His large entourage, including his wives, were given rooms at the hospital so they could stay close to his highness.
  • In 1967 the annual stipend for interns was raised from $3200 to $6000.
  • An architect’s early concept design for the hospital called for four short towers clustered around a core (1969) as opposed to the one tall tower that was finally built (1980).
  • The Robert B. Brigham division of the newly merged hospitals started patient registration and billing with computers in 1979.
  • Did you know that the separation of infectious waste for disposal from hospitals was a new idea in the mid-1980s? Before that all medical waste went into landfills.
  • It was 1987 when the then new technology “Magnetic Resonance Imaging” was first put into clinical practice at BWH.
  • The first lung transplant in Massachusetts was performed at BWH in 1990.
  • A 1993 story reported that all babies born around the holidays were sent home from the hospital as little “stocking stuffers”—inside handmade Christmas stockings. This had been an OB tradition since 1980.
  • Ten years ago, BWH began performing DNA-based genetic testing in-house instead of purchasing testing from external labs.
  • BWH started bilingual phone answering in 1995.
  • In 1996, BWH got its own helicopter landing pad.
  • Astronaut and US senator John Glenn, then age 77, came to BWH’s sleep lab for tests prior to his return to space aboard the shuttle Discovery, in 1998.

What interesting things can you discover in the newsletter archive?

*The BWH Bulletin has been published online since 2000. The digitized paper collection, 1943–1999, will always be available via Hollis, the Harvard Library catalog and via links on the BWH Archives page on the Countway Library site.


Tour an “ultramodern” hospital in the year 1900.

By , April 6, 2015

QuarterCwithFHW_picOnly_009A Quarter of a Century with the Free Hospital for Women is a small picture book published in 1900, not long after the hospital had finished construction of its grand, new facility by a pond in Brookline, Massachusetts. The volume, held in the rare books collection at Harvard Medical School, Center for the History of Medicine, was recently digitized by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives and made available online via the Medical Heritage Library  It will be of special interest to students of the history of institutional architecture, and to those interested in the history of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The Free Hospital for Women is one of BWH’s organizational “grandmothers.”

QuarterCwithFHW_picOnly_002If you’ve ever wondered what a state-of-the-art hospital looked like a hundred plus years ago, flip through the photographs in this little book. See elegant arches and woodwork, gas lights, fireplaces, a grandfather clock, and Tiffany windows. There is a patient sitting room with a piano, a dining room with linen tablecloth and flowers, patient ward beds with gauzy white curtains, and a sitting porch with a view of Riverdale Park. All together the hospital seems more like a resort found in the Berkshires than anything resembling hospitals as we have come to know them in the 21st century.

QuarterCwithFHW_picOnly_011Amazingly, this beautiful facility was designed exclusively for poor women. From 1875 to 1919 those without means were taken care of by the FHW at no charge. By 1919 the hospital had become so successful at its core mission of treating the diseases of women that patients of all economic levels were eager to be admitted there and the by-laws were amended to allow some who could pay.

In 1966 the Free Hospital for Women and the Boston Lying-in, a local maternity hospital, merged to form the Boston Hospital for Women. In 1975, the Boston Hospital for Women merged with the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Robert B. Brigham Hospital. By 1980, all three hospitals had centralized operations and moved to one location in the Longwood area of Boston. The original FHW building was sold to a luxury condominium development company, but the enduring medical legacy of the Free Hospital for Women was reflected in the new name chosen for the combined institutions, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

November 20: Making the Suicidal Object: Sympathy and Surveillance in the American Asylum

By , October 6, 2014

Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education, McLean Hospital and the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, present:

Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine

“Making the Suicidal Object: Sympathy and Surveillance in the American Asylum”

Kathleen Brian, M.A., Ph.D.: Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies, George Washington University

The third in a series of four lectures given as the 2014 Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine. The Colloquium offers an opportunity to clinicians, researchers, and historians interested in a historical perspective on their fields to discuss informally historical studies in progress.

November 20, 2014
4:00-5:30 PM

Ballard Auditorium, fifth floor
Countway Library of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
10 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

Free and open to the public.

For further information contact David G. Satin, M.D., Colloquium Director, phone/fax 617-332-0032, e-mail

September 16: 500 Years of Human Dissection

By , September 8, 2014

science center.inddThe Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture presents:


500 Years of Human Dissection

David S. Jones, A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine and Center for the History of Medicine advisory board chair, and
Dominic Hall, Curator, Warren Anatomical Museum


Human dissection has been has been an integral part of medical training and the expanding of anatomical knowledge since Andreas Vesalius and his 1543 De humani corporis fabrica used cadaver study to lift medicine from its Galenic underpinnings. For anatomists, obtaining the human remains to support their classrooms and fuel their scholarship was difficult and isolating, often placing them outside the societal norms and legal codes of their communities. A September 16th lecture at the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments will illustrate how anatomists and physicians continued to acquire the teaching dead in face of these pressures and how this legal and ethical environment surrounding medical body sourcing has changed over the past 500 years.

The joint lecture, sponsored by the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture, will be given by the Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine and Center for the History of Medicine advisory board chair David Jones and Warren Anatomical Museum curator Dominic Hall.

After the lecture, Body of Knowledge: A History of Anatomy, an exhibition at the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments curated by Dominic Hall and the CHSI, will be open until 9:00 pm.


September 16, 2014
6:00 PM

Pfizer Lecture Hall
Mallinckrodt Chemistry Lab B23.
12 Oxford St.
Cambridge, MA

Free parking available in the 52 Oxford Street Garage.


For more information, see the event page at the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture.

Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Records Opened for Research

By , July 14, 2014
April 30, 1913 - Informal Dedication of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital

First staff with Sir William Osler at dedication of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, April 30, 1913.

The Center for the History of Medicine and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Medical Library are pleased to announce that the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Records, 1830– (inclusive), 1911–1980 (bulk) are now formally open for research. A guide to the collection can be read via this link:

The collection of historic material related to the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (PBBH), one of the parent hospitals of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, includes photographs, memorabilia, business records, and historic publications that were created before its merger with Boston Hospital for Women and Robert B. Brigham Hospital in 1975, and while it operated as a division of the Affiliated Hospitals Center (AHC) until 1980. (In 1980 the three AHC divisions were moved into the same new facility and unified under the new name, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.)

The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital collection includes much of its early administrative data, going back as far as 1902, when the corporation to construct the hospital was formed and its close relationship with Harvard Medical School began. All of the hospital’s Annual Reports (1913–1979), Executive Committee Meeting Minutes (1912–1980), and Board of Trustees meeting records (1902–1975) tell the story of the growth of a major metropolitan hospital from its opening in 1913 through the development of modern medicine during the greater part of the 20th century. The collection also includes records of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital School of Nursing (1912–1985), which became one of the preeminent training programs for nurses in the United States. Other hospital publications codify hospital procedures and standards over time, and the newsletter, Brigham Bulletin, adds depth to the hospital’s biography with weekly, more personal stories about the individuals and events that made the organization unique.

PBBH campus 1913

The collection includes 1911 construction records for the original 225-bed, pavilion-style hospital built along Francis Street in Boston, as well as for later additions.

Photographs comprise the largest portion of the collection and provide thousands of images of hospital, staff, and activities from 1911–1980. The archival collection includes images of some of the individuals whose work at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital significantly advanced medical science and education, including: Dr. Francis Moore, considered the “father of modern surgery;” Dr. Harvey Cushing, first PBBH Surgeon-in-Chief, an innovator in neurosurgery; Dr. Samuel A. Levine, a key figure in modern cardiology; Nurse Carrie M. Hall, a leader in the evolution of professional nursing education; Dr. (Brigadier General) Elliott C. Cutler, second PBBH Surgeon-in-Chief and Surgeon-in-Charge of the European Theater of Operations during WWII; Dr. Carl Walter, who developed a way to collect, store, and transfuse blood; and Dr. Joseph E. Murray, the 1990 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He, along with his team of PBBH medical pioneers achieved the first successful kidney transplant in 1954.

Francis D. Moore MD, in surgery at the Peter Bent Brigham HospitHarvey Cushing in Scrubs, circa 1930sPBBH Dr. Samuel LevinePBBH_Carrie Hall_002a

CutlerMoscow_1943a_Sharf_003BPBBH Walter BloodBag c1954PBBH Murray Nobel Prize

Many interesting hospital related artifacts are part of the collection. A menu and china from founder Peter Bent Brigham’s restaurant, a World War I service flag and many of Nurse Carrie Hall’s service medals from the same war; mid-century nurse’s uniforms, caps, and capes; scrapbooks, audio recordings, newspaper clippings, old medical instruments, student notebooks from the nursing school, and the contents of the PBBH 1963 time capsule are some of the widely various objects that can be found here.

The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Records, 1830– (inclusive), 1911–1980 (bulk) is the last of the major collections of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archives to be cataloged and opened to the public for historic research. The online finding aid to Peter Bent Brigham Hospital Records joins those for the other parent hospitals of the Brigham and Women’s, including the Boston Lying-in Hospital Records, 1855–1983 (Bulk 1921–1966), Free Hospital for Women Records, 1875–1975, Robert B. Brigham Hospital Records, 1889–1984 (Bulk 1915–1980), and the Affiliated Hospitals Center (Boston, Mass.) Records, 1966–1984. To view those online collection guides as well as the guide to the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Records, 1900– go to this page:

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