Category: Research and Access

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.

2018-2019 Boston Medical Library Fellowships in the History of Medicine at the Countway Library

By , October 26, 2017
Herbolarium de virtutibus herbarum (Vincenza: Leonardus Achates, de Basilea, and Guilelmus de Papia, 27 October 1491). Ballard 368. Boston Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Herbolarium de virtutibus herbarum (Vincenza: Leonardus Achates, de Basilea, and Guilelmus de Papia, 27 October 1491). Ballard 368. Boston Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is pleased to offer annual fellowships to support research in the history of medicine. 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. Its Center for the History of Medicine holds 250,000 books and journals published before 1920, including 802 incunabula. The department’s printed holdings include one of the most complete medical periodical collections, an extensive collection of European medical texts issued between the 15th and 20th centuries, and excellent holdings of pre-1800 English and pre-1900 American imprints. The book collection is strong in virtually every medical discipline and is particularly rich in popular medicine, medical education, public health, Judaica, and travel accounts written by physicians. The Countway’s collection of archives and manuscripts, approximately 20 million items, is the largest of its kind in the United States. The manuscript collection includes the personal and professional papers of many prominent American physicians, especially those who practiced and conducted research in the New England region, or who were associated with Harvard Medical School. The Countway Library also serves as the institutional archives for the Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health. The printed, manuscript, and archives holdings are complemented by an extensive print and photograph collection and the collections of the Warren Anatomical Museum. Established in 1847, the museum houses an exceptional collection of medical artifacts, pathological specimens, anatomical models, and instruments.

The Boston Medical Library 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, 2018 and June 30, 2019. 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 fellowship proposal should demonstrate that the Countway Library has resources central to the research topic. Preference will be given to applicants who live beyond commuting distance of the Countway. The application, outlining the proposed project (proposal should not exceed five pages), length of residence, materials to be consulted, and a budget with specific information on travel, lodging, and research expenses, should be submitted, along with a curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendation, by February 15, 2018.

Applications should be sent to:

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

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

Awards will be announced in April 2018.

The Boston Medical Library’s Abel Lawrence Peirson Fund provides support for the fellowship program.

The Boston Medical Library is a physicians’ non-profit organization, incorporated in 1877. Its mission is “to be a Library for the dissemination of medical knowledge, the promotion of medical education and scholarship, and the preservation and celebration of medical history, and thereby to advance the quality of health and healthcare of the people.” Today there are over 300 fellows of the Boston Medical Library. In 1960, the Boston Medical Library entered into an agreement with the Harvard Medical School Library to combine staff, services, and collections into one modern biomedical facility. The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine opened in 1965 and ranks as one of the largest biomedical libraries in the world.

Harvard Prevention Research Center and Steven L. Gortmaker Collections Open to Research

By , June 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 for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of two collections: the records of the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) and the papers of the HPRC’s Director, Steven L. Gortmaker.

The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity was founded in 1998 at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to work with community and governmental organizations in the research, development, and implementation of school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits. The HPRC has conducted a number of intervention research projects, including: the randomized control trial of the Planet Health curriculum, which is used in middle schools to teach healthy decision making about nutrition, exercise, and leisure activities; and the Play Across Boston project, which surveyed and evaluated the availability of afterschool fitness programs for Boston-area youth, and studied how access and individual family characteristics influence youth physical activity.

The HPRC records include administrative records and research data for both Planet Health and Play Across Boston. Planet Health records include student fitness questionnaires, television viewing worksheets and graphs, financial records, Wellness Workshops administrative records, and student participation records. Play Across Boston records include: student surveys (concerning health and exercise habits, demographics, access to fitness programs, and other topics); and fitness program provider surveys (concerning program details, cost and accessibility, and participant numbers and demographics).

Steven L. Gortmaker.

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

In addition to directing the HPRC, Steven L. Gortmaker is Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research focuses primarily on the health and mortality risks affecting children and adolescents (particularly low-income and minority), and interventions for mitigating those risks. He served as Principal Investigator on a number of HPRC initiatives, including Planet Health, Play Across Boston, the Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), and is also Co-Director of the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES). In 1997, he was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

Gortmaker’s papers comprise his research and teaching records generated during his career. The collection includes research data and administrative records from a number of projects, including: an obesity research project using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Rural Infant Care Program; and organ donation research for the Partnership for Organ Donation. The papers also include Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health teaching records for courses related to HIV, social behavior, and statistics.

The collections were processed as part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information 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.

More information on the collections may be found in their online finding aids: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00242 (Harvard Prevention Research Center Records); and http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00243  (Steven L. Gortmaker papers).

Documenting and preserving the Warren Anatomical Museum’s medical wet specimen collection

By , November 9, 2016

 

Specimens on display for Anatomy Day, 2016.

Specimens on display for Anatomy Day, 2016.

From roughly the 1840’s through the 1940’s, the Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM) collected and acquired several hundred anatomical wet tissue specimens from medical institutions and from area physicians and academics. While these specimens were originally on display within the museum, the relocation of the WAM to a smaller venue prompted the move of these specimens into storage. In April of 2015, the Museum Collections Technician, Alex Denning, began the task of cataloguing and documenting these specimens. As is the nature with any biological material, the condition of many of the specimens has deteriorated over time, despite preservation efforts. Throughout the history of collecting and saving specimens, chemical preservatives, such as ethanol (or other alcohols and ‘spirits’), formalin and formaldehyde, and various other chemical combinations, have been used to fix (render inert and stable) and preserve anatomical tissues. There is great variability in the current conditions of these specimens and they vary in subject matter from gross anatomical dissection specimens used in teaching, to pathological specimens retained for educational purposes due to their rarity.

Clavicle with sarcoma.

The task of moving over 800 specimens from museum storage to a laboratory space presented a number of logistical challenges. Due to the nature of the specimens, being housed in a variety of potentially unknown chemical preservatives, relocation of hundreds of medical specimens proves difficult and must be undertaken by special transport. Specimens were properly secured into containers and transported in specialized vehicles to make the journey to the lab. The specimens are now being processed in batches, the first of which contains 300 specimens and is nearing completion.

Processing a historic specimen involves identification, photographing, data collection, cleaning, and repackaging. Each specimen corresponds to a museum number that (hopefully) has documentation on the origins of that particular specimen. Over time, many paper labels have been lost and few specimens have their museum number etched into the glass container or on a tag within the container. This makes identification difficult and many specimens will receive temporary ID numbers until they can be identified through the process of elimination. Within the wealth of information available at WAM and the Center for the History of Medicine (CHoM), often there will be donation or loan histories, and sometimes even patient and surgery information that help to provide context for a particular specimen.

The most important and time-consuming step for each specimen is the data collection. Condition notes are collected, which note the fluid levels and coloration, any deterioration of the specimen, and stability of the container and its seal.  Photo documentation is also a vital step in this process as it records the condition and appearance of a specimen in its found state, which also serves as important data for future processing of specimens. Once documentation is complete, the exterior of the specimen container is cleaned, small cracks are sealed or stabilized, and if possible, a fluid sample is collected for future identification. The specimens are then repacked safely and returned to their storage containers.

 

Dr. A. T. Hertig, Dept. of Pathology, HMS, using specimens to teach medical students.

Dr. A. T. Hertig, Dept. of Pathology, HMS, using specimens to teach medical students.

As soon as a specimen is fully documented, all data, photographs, and archival information are entered into the WAM database. Efforts are currently underway to make this information available to researchers and the medical community in the future. The project has sought the help of a number of anatomists, pathologists, and medical historians to assess the potential of each specimen for teaching and research purposes. The goal of this project is not just to document and conserve existing specimens, but it is also the hope of the WAM to eventually open specimens up to researchers and scholars upon the project’s completion.

 

Robert Latou Dickinson Papers Open to Research

By , June 27, 2016
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Robert Latou Dickinson

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the  Robert Latou Dickinson papers, 1881-1972 (inclusive), 1926-1951 (bulk). Dickinson (1861-1950, MD, 1882, Long Island College Hospital) was a gynecologist and obstetrician, sex researcher, anatomist, author, and artist. Dickinson worked with Margaret Sanger in promoting contraception and was also known for his medical illustrations and work with Abram Belskie developing anatomical models, in particular Norma and Normman.

The papers are the product of Dickinson’s activities as a sex researcher, obstetrician and gynecologist, author, and artist. The papers include: Dickinson’s professional and personal correspondence; case histories and subject files related to his research interests; writings for both books and articles, including records related to his unpublished book Doctor as Marriage Counselor; biographical records including diaries, obituaries and related correspondence, photographs, and an unpublished biography written by Dickinson’s son-in-law, George Barbour; and Dickinson’s medical and non-medical artwork.

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

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

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Robert Latou Dickinson

Processing of Dennis Kasper papers has begun

By , April 22, 2016

Dennis L. Kasper (1943-) is the William Ellery Channing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunobology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. He has had a long career studying infectious diseases, and  is known for his research related to bacterial carbohydrates, as well as the interactions of microbes with the immune system. He has focused on carbohydrates of group B Streptococcus, the foremost cause of serious neonatal bacterial infections, and Bacteroides fragilis, an intestinal commensal, and has studied the interactions of the microbiota with the mucosal and systemic immune systems, including Francisella tularensis, a potential agent of bioterrorism. He has also served as the Director of the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital;  the Executive Dean of Academic Programs, Harvard Medical School; and the Scientific Director at the New England Center on Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at Harvard Medical School, all in Boston, Massachusetts. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Dennis Kasper papers, a product of his professional activities, research, and career as a Professor and administrator at Harvard Medical School, are currently being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project.

Dennis L. Kasper was born on February 23, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. He received his college degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1963, majoring in Zoology. Kasper completed his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, 1967, and later received an honorary Master’s of Arts from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1986. He began his time at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1972, as a Research Fellow at the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 1975, Kasper was hired as an Assistant Physician, Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, and as a Harriet Ryan Albee Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He became an Associate in Medicine, Peter Brent Brigham Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (1977). Kasper acted as an Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School from 1978-1985, at which point he was promoted to Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. During this time, he became a Physician and the Director, Division of Infections, Beth Israel Hospital in 1981. Kasper acted as the Associate Director the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 1982-1988, when he became the Co-Director, and then the Director. His academic career included a post as the Edward Kass Professor of Medicine (1988) and then as the William Ellery Channing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Harvard Medical School, positions Kasper has held since 1989. He additionally acted as the Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and as the Executive Dean for Academic Programs at Harvard Medical School (1997-2003). He continues to teach, and has served as the Scientific Director at the New England Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Harvard Medical School (2003-2014).

Much of Kasper’s research has been related to the interactions of microbes, both commensals and pathogens, with the immune systems. His laboratory research has focused on bacterial carbohydrates. In studies integrating structural carbohydrate chemistry, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, and genetics, Kasper and his laboratory staff have studied the carbohydrates of group B Streptococcus, the foremost cause of serious neonatal bacterial infections, and Bacteroides fragilis, an important intestinal commensal. His research also encompasses the interactions of the microbiota with the mucosal and systemic immune systems.  His laboratory work on commensals has led to identification of other aspects of the microbiome‘s interactions with the immune system, including the relationship of the microbiome to iNKT cells and mammalian susceptibility to experimental colitis and asthma. Another area of Kasper’s work deals with Francisella tularensis, which is considered a potential agent of bioterrorism.

The papers, created throughout Kasper’s professional, research, teaching, and publishing activities, include correspondence, research data and notes, teaching records, grant and patent materials, and writings and drafts. They are expected to be opened to research by the end of 2016.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Harold Amos papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics: the Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1913-1960, the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001, the Luigi Gorini papers, 1922-1988, the Myron Essex papers, 1949-1996, and the Harold Amos papers, 1949-2003. Already, the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk), have been opened as part of the project. For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

The Bernard D. Davis Papers are open for research

By , April 22, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk). Davis (1916-1994) A.B., Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was the Chair of the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology from 1957-1968 and the Adele Lehman Professor of Bacterial Physiology from 1968-1984, both at Harvard Medical School. He was a microbiologist who focused throughout his career on biochemical and genetic mutations, microbial and bacterial physiology, and the impact of science on society and culture.

Davis is most known for his scientific research in microbiology and bacterial physiology, focusing on the ribosome cycle, streptomycin, protein secretion vesicles, studies of Escherichia coli, bacterial membrane transport systems, and mechanisms of drug resistance and chemotherapy. Early in his career, Davis created the penicillin enrichment method for obtaining nutritional mutants of Escherichia coli, as did Joshua Lederberg (1925-2008), independently. While at Harvard Medical School, his key scientific findings included the details of the ribosome cycle; protein secretion vesicles; the dominance of susceptibility to streptomycin (due to the misreading of the genetic code); and in 1987, with colleague P.C. Tai, a unified mechanism of streptomycin killing. His work with Werner Maas foreshadows later findings in genetics, as well, though he did not focus primarily on genetics. Davis authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific papers, most of which are included in the Bernard D. Davis Papers.

In the latter portion of his career, Davis became an advocate for the role of science in culture, the ethics of genetic engineering, evolution and human diversity, the implications of affirmative action, and the defense of fellow scientists accused of fraud and misconduct. Davis was also a passionate teacher, and co-authored multiple editions of a new textbook for medical students, Microbiology (first edition, 1967), along with R. Dulbecco, H. Eisen, H. Ginsberg, and initially W.B. Wood. In his role as advocate, he published a collection of essays concerning contemporary controversies facing science and scientists, entitled Storm Over Biology: Essays On Science, Sentiment, and Public Policy, in 1986. Many of the papers relate to these moral and ethical issues, including correspondence, articles, and manuscript and chapter drafts.

Overall, the papers include correspondence and subject files, administrative, teaching and professional records, unpublished writings and drafts, and reprints and volumes written by Davis, as well as the collected publications of colleagues and students. This includes the manuscript of an unpublished book on the topic of scientific fraud written late in his life, and several chapters of an unpublished autobiography.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Bernard D. Davis papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics, virology, and microbiology: the Luigi Gorini papers, 1922-1988; the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001; the  Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1913-1960; the Myron Essex papers, 1949-1996; and the Harold Amos papers, 1949-2003. For more information on the project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

Project Archivist Presents at New England Regional Meeting of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance

By , October 8, 2015
3rd Annual New England Regional Meeting of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, held at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, 25 September 2015.

3rd Annual New England Regional Meeting of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance.

On Friday, September 25, Project Archivist Amber LaFountain attended the 3rd Annual New England Regional Meeting of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance, held at the Dartmouth campus of the University of Massachusetts.  The meeting allowed attendees to highlight their institutions’ current digital stewardship work, and provided opportunities for collaborative learning and brainstorming.

The first half of the program was dedicated to short presentations, during which archivists, librarians, and information professionals representing a number of New England institutions shared their current digital initiatives.  Amber presented to the group on the Center’s Bridging the Research Data Divide project, a CLIR-funded collaboration with the University of Alberta Libraries that began in June 2015.  She discussed the CLIR partners’ plans for exposing descriptive metadata about the project’s research data collections through the Dataverse, and for developing best practices for describing research data collections to enable long-term access, use, and repurposing of the data.

Later in the program, attendees broke into informal unconference groups to discuss various digital stewardship topics and concerns.  Amber was able to collaborate with other local archivists and librarians to brainstorm ideas for data wrangling (preparing digital assets for long-term preservation and use) and for creating preservation metadata for digital collections.  Other unconference topics included: issues with saving digital assets in proprietary software and databases; implementing practical preservation practices; file integrity verification; and repositories for access versus preservation.

The meeting was a fantastic learning opportunity, and we’re excited to follow the progress of our local colleagues’ projects over the coming year.

The Bridging the Research Data Divide project is funded by a Hidden Collections Grant administered by the Council on Library Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services.

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