Category: Staff News

Center Archivist to attend Archives Leadership Institute

By , February 16, 2017

img_20170215_084242The Center for the History of Medicine is thrilled to announce that Jessica Sedgwick, the Center’s Collections Services Archivist, has been accepted into the 2017 cohort of the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI). ALI, which is funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), is a dynamic program that provides advanced leadership training and mentorship for 25 innovative archival leaders annually, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to transform the profession in practice, theory, and attitude.  Applicants to this competitive program are chosen for their exceptional leadership skills and potential, ability to influence change within the archival field, strong commitment to the archival profession, demonstrated professional organizational involvement and service, collaborative and innovative spirit, and representation and/or support of diversity within the profession. As part of the program, participants design a practicum to be implemented at their home institution. ALI will be held at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, June 25 – July 1, 2017.

As Collections Services Archivist, Jessica leads an innovative program for establishing physical and intellectual control over the Center’s internationally renowned holdings, from accession through final processing and description.  Jessica has a broad range of experience in the archival field, having worked previously in reference and instruction, outreach, digitization and metadata, born-digital collections management, acquisitions and collection development, and fundraising and grant planning. Prior positions include Metadata Project Manager for the Boston Library Consortium, Associate Archivist for Reference and Digital Collections at the Moakley Archive and Institute, Archivist for Women in Medicine at the Center for the History of Medicine, and Manuscripts Processor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Southern Historical Collection. Jessica earned her MLS at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 and is an active member of New England Archivists, most recently serving on the executive board and volunteering with the Mentoring Program. Jessica has taught as an adjunct faculty member at the Simmons College School of Library of Information and Library Science since 2011.

We know Jessica is looking forward to developing new skills, knowledge, and connections that will enable her to further advance the Center’s mission; we wish her the best of luck in Berea!

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

Center archivist inspires “featured scientist” in STEM publication for children

By , November 15, 2016

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Archivist (and Library Scientist) Heather Mumford

The Center for the History of Medicine is delighted to announce that its Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Archivist, Heather Mumford, is one of the 26 inspiring women in STEM occupations who participated in the creation of Jean Fan’s most recent CuSTEMized’s book, My Scientific Name. CuSTEMized is a not-for-profit initiative that provides personalized STEM-related motivational storybooks, posters, and other media products to encourage kids, in particular girls, in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). For “My Scientific Name,” Jean identified a STEM career for every letter in the alphabet, hence “L is for Library Scientist”!

Jean and Heather spent time discussing what a “library scientist” does, and came up with a second-grader-approved poem that succinctly sums up that work. To read the poem, visit Mumford’s featured page on the website:

You can try out (and then download) a personalized book for free. Enjoy!

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

Deputy Director Awarded Joseph B. Martin Dean’s Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women Staff

By , June 27, 2016

On June 2, 2016, the Center’s Deputy Director, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, was awarded the Joseph B. Martin Dean’s Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women Staff. The Dean’s award, initiated by and named for former HMS Dean Joseph B. Martin, recognizes Harvard faculty and staff members committed to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine. It is co-sponsored by the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Committee on the Status of Women and is awarded annually.

Emily Novak Gustainis

Novak Gustainis

Emily, who joined the Center for the History of Medicine in 2009, was recently named Deputy Director of the Center. She serves in a senior management role and is responsible for the care and curation of the Center’s collections of rare books, manuscripts, archives, the Warren Anatomical Museum, and special collections. Emily was nominated for the Dean’s award by several of her colleagues, who recognized her for her leadership, mentorship, and for fostering an environment that recruits, retains, develops, supports, and advances women staff.

At the award ceremony, Dean Jeffrey S. Flier introduced and read excerpts from nomination letters for the award:

“As a mentor, supervisor, and colleague, Emily provides encouragement and inspiration directly through her attitudes and actions.”

“As a manager, she ensures that staff members are given ample opportunities to develop as professionals and fulfill career and educational goals. She inspires confidence and independence in her employees and encourages us to seek out opportunities for growth. Within her department, Ms. Novak Gustainis fosters a community of support, creativity, and openness for her female employees, and works to ensure that her staff members are able to enjoy a high quality of both professional and personal life.”

“Ms. Novak Gustainis has consistently been involved with the recruitment, retention, and promotion of high quality women staff members.  She actively seeks out opportunities and funding to retain women staff members, either in their current positions or through promotion to more advanced roles. … Moreover, she has overseen the promotion of multiple women staff members from part-time to full-time or temporary to permanent roles.”

Emily graciously accepted the award, and in her acceptance speech, expounded upon the merits of having a mentor like Kathryn Hammond Baker who supported her throughout her career.

“Kathryn was the kind of person who believed that anything was possible, and her belief in me transformed my perspective on my career as an archivist. When I became a parent, she offered me the flexibility one could only hope for as a working mother. And as a friend, she embodied strength and hope in the face of the inevitable.   If I can somehow pass at least some of this on, to make how we work better, I will consider myself a success.”

We hope you join all of us at the Center in congratulating Emily!

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

In Memory of Kathryn Hammond Baker

By , December 3, 2015

Kathryn and LivIt is with great sorrow that I report that Kathryn Hammond Baker passed away November 17, after a prolonged illness. As so many of you know, Kathryn was remarkable, deeply invested in the Countway and its audiences as a whole, as well as with the role of libraries and archives more broadly. She had been a beloved teacher at Simmons College, and a Past President of New England Archivists.

At the Countway, she had been responsible for developing the HMS records management program, and for catalyzing the development of the Archives for Women in Medicine, well before I arrived at the Center for the History of Medicine (CHOM) in 2006. Upon becoming deputy director of CHOM, Kathryn — with her remarkable energy and intelligence — transformed our center, whether in advancing our acquisitions, cataloging, and educational programs, or in developing such collaborations as the online Medical Heritage Library (whose governance committee she chaired), through which millions of users worldwide have accessed the Center’s collections. She was largely responsible for our receiving multiple grants – from the Sloan Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the National Endowment for the Humanities – that enabled us to extend the reach of our program and to enable the history of medicine to inform contemporary medicine and society. Perhaps most importantly, she developed a remarkable team at CHOM, whose ongoing important work is a tribute to her sincere investment in their education and efforts.

Not only was Kathryn smart, strategic, and funny, but she was the most stoic person I’ve ever met. She was private about her illness, but that paralleled her long refusal to allow it to interfere with her work. She was truly inspirational, and will be deeply, deeply missed. Our hearts go out to her family, and we will keep you posted as we plan to honor her memory here at the library.

Scott Podolsky, Director, Center for the History of Medicine


Kathryn was a friend, colleague, and mentor. Even when she was clearly very ill, her dedication and focus inspired the rest of us. This dedication didn’t preclude lighter moments, however; she always had time to talk, laugh, and sympathize with others who were facing illnesses or problems much less serious than hers. Her bravery, stoicism, and sense of humor were remarkable.

Joan Thomas, Rare Book Cataloger


Kathryn was my teacher, then my boss, my mentor, and a friend. She was the smartest person I knew and I depended on her for the right answer to any question. I will miss her unfailing kindness and her enthusiastic encouragement which has meant so very much to me as I grew in this profession.

Catherine Pate, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Archivist


Kathryn provided invaluable insight, vision, and mentorship to me through my work as an oral historian and as Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine. She consistently provided the most insightful constructive criticism and comments I’ve ever received from a mentor. The Archives for Women in Medicine program serves as a legacy to her advocacy and passion.

Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist, Archives for Women in Medicine


I worked with Kathryn for 8 years at the Center for the History of Medicine. She hired me to take on a complex position and continually challenged me to perform that job to the best of my ability. Kathryn was an incredible professional. I know I see her in my work each day and constantly miss her leadership and perspective. I’m honored to be able to call her my colleague and friend.

Dominic Hall, Curator, Warren Anatomical Museum


I only had the pleasure of working closely with Kathryn for a few years; I wish it had been much longer. Collaborating with her on the Medical Heritage Library was a continual learning experience lightened with a shared enjoyment of Flann O’Brien jokes. I will miss her.

Hanna Clutterbuck, Processing Assistant, Center for the History of Medicine


Kathryn was an innovator and never afraid to try new things. She instilled that spirit in her staff, encouraging us to work collaboratively and with creativity. Her love for the profession, and in particular, the Center, was evident in all that she did. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from her leadership, am grateful for her constant and consistent support, and to have enjoyed her friendship. She was remarkable, and the strongest person I’ve ever known.

Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services


Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

WAM Curator Presents at University of Texas Medical Branch

By , October 9, 2015
Ashbel Smith Building ("Old Red"), University of Texas Medical Branch, October 5, 2015

Ashbel Smith Building (“Old Red”), University of Texas Medical Branch, October 5, 2015

Dominic Hall, the Curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum, spoke in the historical lecture hall of the Ashbel Smith Building, affectionately known as “Old Red,” at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) on October 5, 2015. Hall was invited by Paula Summerly, Research Project Manager for the John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine, and the members of the “Old Red” Medical Museum Task Force and Heritage Committee to discuss the history of the Warren Anatomical Museum and the Museum’s evolution over its approximately 160-year history.

University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), like Harvard Medical School, has a surviving historical anatomical and pathological collection. In his 1910 Medical Education in the United States and Canada: A Report to the Carnegie Institution for the Advancement of Teaching, Abraham Flexner said of the UTMB collections, “There is a large pathological museum, beautifully kept, every specimen classified, labeled, each indexed; and a notable anatomical museum in which special preparations are most advantageously arranged for teaching use.” Of the approximate 45 museums or specimen collections mentioned by Flexner, he was conservative in such praise. In addition to the UTMB medical museums, Flexner thought very favorably of the collections at McGill, the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, the University of Toronto, the Army Medical School, the Iowa Medical College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

UTMB’s “Old Red” Medical Museum Task Force and Heritage Committee has been working since 2009 to revitalize the UTMB pathological and anatomical museums. The Warren Anatomical Museum underwent a similar transformation in 1999 when it was transferred into the Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. At the time of Hall’s visit, UTMB was launching its 125th anniversary celebration. The school is the oldest medical college in Texas.


Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

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.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

Archivists attend launch of “Women and Health: the key to sustainable development”

By , June 23, 2015

Heather Mumford, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Archivist, and Joan Ilacqua, Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, recently attended the launch of The Lancet’s report “Women and Health: the key for sustainable development,” at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The report was created by the 15-member Commission on Women and Health, a partnership between The Lancet, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Women and Health Initiative, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Archivists Joan Ilacqua and Heather Mumford with a copy of The Lancet's report "Women and Health: the key for sustainable development.”

Archivists Joan Ilacqua and Heather Mumford with a copy of The Lancet’s report “Women and Health: the key for sustainable development.”

The launch featured comments by several Harvard experts including: Julio Frenk, Dean of the School of Public Health, Ana Langer, Professor of Public Health and Coordinator of the Dean’s Special Initiative on Women and Health, Paula A. Johnson, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Women’s Health and Gender at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Felicia Knaul, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative, and Jeni Klugman, lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Other speakers included Afaf Meleis of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Ruth Bonita of the University of Auckland, Justine Davies of The Lancet, and Mariam Claeson of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Speakers emphasized that gender inequality continues to be a global problem; this inequality inhibits progress and potential for a variety of stakeholders on a global scale. Health inequities manifest in many ways. For example, addressing women’s health has historically been reduced to reproductive health, while poverty, urbanization, non-communicable diseases and chronic disease disproportionately affect women. Furthermore, women are not solely consumers of health, but are also health providers, often with little to no training, compensation, or recognition. Although women are represented in the workforce, medical professions, and academia, the demand for women to provide domestic work and care outside of their employment to family members has not changed and effectively convolutes a work-life balance.

Gender inequality disenfranchises women, even in wealthy countries. Marginalization and inequity is present in politics, higher education, and other fields. The report concludes that all sustainability goals should be gender-specific and measurable, and that gender equity committees (such as Harvard Medical School’s own Joint Committee on the Status of Women) continue to be necessary to prevent and combat marginalization. Addressing women and health, acknowledging and compensating women as consumers and deliverers of healthcare, and investing in all stages of women’s health throughout life will benefit global economies at large.

The conclusions of the report were underscored by the speakers’ dedication to interdisciplinary work to solve medical, scientific, public health, and economic problems, a mission integral to the Center’s own acquisitions guidelines. We are committed to acquiring, preserving, and making available historic materials to provide context and perspective to the history of medicine, including documenting the developments, experiences, and contributions of public health pioneers and women leaders in medicine. As archivists, we aspire to be responsible and informed stewards of our historic collections, so attending events like this launch are necessary to understanding the contemporary contexts of our collections.

Women and Health: the key for sustainable development” is available to read online at The Lancet’s website.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

Introducing our newest Project Archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine

By , June 22, 2015

Joan IlacquaThe Archives for Women in Medicine begins the summer with a new Project Archivist. Joan Ilacqua is the fourth archivist to serve the AWM since the program’s launch in 2005. Joan has been with the Center since 2014, recently serving as an oral history project coordinator, and managed the Strong Medicine project to collect the stories of medical professionals in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. Joan has extensive museum and archives experience at such institutions as the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, UMass Boston University Archives and Special Collections, Plimoth Plantation, and several National Park Service sites. She holds a Master of Arts in Public History from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Studio Art from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She serves as a member of the board of The History Project.

In her first weeks as the AWM Project Archivist, Joan has met with AWM supporters to brainstorm refreshing and expanding the program as it approaches its tenth anniversary. Her long term goals are: to continue building a community of interested and engaged people –scholars, biomedical scientists, healthcare professionals, educations, and others — who will support and use AWM collections; continue building a comprehensive collection of records that reflect the scope and depth of women’s contributions to leadership in medicine; and create new partnerships to support, expand, and engage the Archives for Women in Medicine. Please welcome Joan as she takes on this new role!

The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, preserves, promotes, and provides access to the professional and personal records of outstanding women leaders. We are eager to broaden our scope, to reach a larger audience, and to continue collecting, preserving, sharing, and celebrating the work of these pioneers. The Archives for Women in Medicine is made possible by the generous support of our donors. Please support our ongoing efforts to acquire, make accessible, and preserve the unique resources in the history of our women leaders in medicine.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

Warren Museum Collections Assistant Continues to Bring New Collections to Light

By , April 3, 2015
Robert Latou Dickinson, by Abram Belskie, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Robert Latou Dickinson, by Abram Belskie, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Warren Anatomical Museum Collections Assistant Lily Pelekoudas is a vital behind-the-scenes component of the Center for the History of Medicine staff. Lily has been cataloging a mix of new acquisitions and legacy collections for the Warren Anatomical Museum and making them accessible.

Lily started her Warren Museum tenure with the Dickinson-Belskie obstetrical model collection. The collection was built by obstetrician and gynecologist Robert Latou Dickinson and sculptor Abram Belskie to help the public and health care professionals visualize human reproductive anatomy. The 200-model collection is a mix of models made by Dickinson and Belskie and reproductions designed by the Cleveland Health Museum after it acquired the collection circa 1950. Lily researched the origins of the models, redesigned the museum’s photography workflow to better image the works, cataloged the individual details of each piece, reported on their condition, and packed the models in sound housing to provide for their preservation and make them easily accessible for future researchers. Lily’s Dickinson-Belskie work has already facilitated original academic research on the models.

In addition to the Dickinson collection, Lily has cataloged and photographed 125 unique items in the Warren Museum, making them available for the research community. In all, Lily has taken approximately 1200 photographs of Warren Museum collections. Throughout her work she’s encountered an aspirating kit with a Wyman aspirating trocar, a 100 W x 139 H cm teaching watercolor of a male with inguinal hernia, after Richard Quain’s The Anatomy of the Arteries of the Human Body, and a collection of 20th century intrauterine devices from around the world.

Moving forward, Lily will be working to export these newly cataloged artifacts into the Center for the History of Medicine’s web portal OnView, providing Warren Museum objects for the greater public.

Share on Facebook
[`twib` not found]

Panorama Theme by Themocracy