Category: New Acquisitions

New Acquisitions: Thomas J. Smith Papers

By , September 16, 2019

Image courtesy of Harvard University Center for the Environment.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of Dr. Thomas Jay Smith, Professor of Industrial Hygiene Emeritus at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, formerly known as the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

Dr. Smith was Professor of Environmental Health at HSPH from 1977 to 1985 and 1993 to 2012; he directed the Industrial Hygiene Program at HSPH from 1993 to 2011. He also taught at University of Massachusetts Medical School from 1980 to 1985 and directed their Division of Environmental Health from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Smith’s research focuses on how to best characterize environmental exposures for studies of health effects. He collaborated with epidemiologists and toxicologists to analyze exposures to several agents, including sulfur dioxide, silicon carbide dust, gasoline vapors, glass and mineral fibers, arsenic, and diesel exhaust.

The Thomas Jay Smith papers, 1972-2017 (inclusive), which are not yet available for research, consist of notebooks, project files, reports, research, conference records, lectures, and manuscripts related to occupational health.

For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

New Acquisitions: Nancy M. Kane Papers

By , September 9, 2019

Image courtesy of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of Dr. Nancy M. Kane, who recently retired from her role as a Professor of Management in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Kane has won numerous teaching awards, and supports case writing and advocates for teaching via the case method. She also directs the Master in Health Care Management Program, an executive leadership program created for mid-career physicians leading healthcare organizations, and teaches in Executive and Masters Degree programs in the areas of health care financial accounting and analysis, payment systems, and competitive strategy. Her research interests have included measuring hospital financial performance, quantifying community benefits and the value of tax exemption, the competitive structure and performance of hospital and insurance industries, nonprofit hospital governance, and the viability of safety-net providers.

The Nancy M. Kane papers, 1970-2018 (inclusive), which are not yet available for research, consist of teaching records, course records, case records, research in hospital finances and financial transparency, records relating to charity care and tax exemptions, US and state health reform records, health care regulation records, Safety Net records, and departmental administrative files.

For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

Center Acquires Midcentury Funding Appeals to Arab Countries

By , January 28, 2019

The Center for the History of Medicine recently acquired donor prospect records of the Office for External Relations at the Harvard School of Public Health, now known as the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Six booklets appealing to Arab companies and governments for funding new buildings at the Harvard School of Public Health, 1966. Image courtesy of Caroline Littlewood.

These donor prospect records document the school’s appeal to secure funding for research, including a 1966 appeal to Arab companies and governments. Among research files and correspondence are six spiral bound booklets. Five booklets address shaikhs of Persian Gulf states; a sixth addresses the government of Libya.

The contents of each book are near-identical. They request funds to complete construction on the new Health Sciences Laboratories in service of the fight against trachoma, bilharzia, and other infectious diseases that afflict populations in those countries.

Each contains an appeal from Dean John C. Snyder and a written presentation, complete with photographs pasted to the page and architectural drawings. The presentation is repeated in two mirrored halves: one in English, one in Arabic.

These booklets and other collection materials are now open to researchers. For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

An illustration of a prospective new HSPH research building on Huntington avenue, which seems to eliminate the presence of the MBTA Green Line. Photo courtesy of Caroline Littlewood.

The Health Sciences Laboratories, which would be built after receiving adequate funding, would be used to research and prevent trachoma, bilharzia, and other infectious diseases. Photo courtesy of Caroline Littlewood.

New Addition to the Norman Geschwind Papers

By , December 10, 2018

Norman Geschwind

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce a new accession (2016-049) to the Norman Geschwind papers has been processed and integrated into the collection. The additions include a new series, V. Personal Records, and several smaller additions to existing series, including writings and research regarding apraxia and aphasia. Included in the Personal Records series are obituaries, condolence letters, and clippings related to Norman Geschwind’s death, as well as photographs, school and military records, biographical publications and memorial records.

Norman Geschwind (1926-1984) AB, 1947, Harvard College, MD, 1951, Harvard Medical School, was the James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the director of Neurology at Boston City Hospital (1969-1975) and Beth Israel Hospital (1975-1984). Geschwind’s research focused on the relationship between brain anatomy and behavior, including the areas of language and left-handedness, and the functional differences between brain hemispheres

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

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

Center Acquires Records on the History of Computing at Harvard Chan

By , September 13, 2018

Pictured in Cambridge in 2004: Taso Markatos, then the Assistant Dean for Information Technology at Harvard School of Public Health. Staff Photo Justin Ide/Harvard University News Office

The Center for the History of Medicine recently acquired an archival collection from the Department of Information Technology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Specifically, the collection is comprised of executive administrative records from the office of Taso Markatos, former Chief for Information Technology at Harvard Chan, who retired in June 2018. Markatos led the department for 27 years, giving him the distinction of being the longest-running head of any school’s IT department at the University.

The executive administrative files of the Harvard Chan IT department reflect the span of Markatos’ tenure at the school, and date back to the earliest days of computing on the Longwood campus. They provide a unique history of computing and technology trends, service consolidation, system replacements, and rational. This collection also details Markatos’ involvement with various university-level committees, including the CIO Council, the Longwood Medical Area network executive committee, Harvard Green IT working group, Harvard Administrative Innovation Group, & etc.

Although currently closed to research, once opened these records will allow for an excellent case study on the evolution of information technology and management at Harvard. For more information about the collection, contact Public Services at chm@hms.harvard.edu.

Boston Medical Library Bookplates

The Boston Medical Library, founded in 1805, includes over 400,000 volumes, many with bookplates or ex libris: small graphic elements used by owners — individuals and societies — to claim volumes.

BML librarians also collected bookplates independent from books, creating a small collection which was recently processed by Center staff. The bookplates are from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and include plates from organizations as well as from individuals. This gallery is only a small selection of plates that reflects the range of styles present in the collection.

Staff Finds: Coronary Angiography Catheter Molds Designed by Sven Paulin

By , June 20, 2018
Coronary angiography catheter molds designed by Sven Paulin. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Coronary angiography catheter molds designed by Sven Paulin. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

In 1964, Sven Paulin published his dissertation from his doctoral research at the University of Göteborg, Sweden, “Coronary Angiography: A Technical, Anatomic and Clinical Study.” It was quickly recognized as a landmark contribution to both fields of radiology and cardiology. He later went on to become Radiologist-in-Chief at Beth Israel Hospital (later Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and the first Miriam H. Stoneman Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, Massachusetts. He is recognized as a pioneer in the field of cardiothoracic imaging, particularly in coronary angiography.

Phases in preparation of double-loop catheter. Page 19 of Sven Paulin's "Coronary Angiography: A technical, anatomic and clinical study." H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Phases in preparation of double-loop catheter. Page 19 of Sven Paulin’s “Coronary Angiography: A technical, anatomic and clinical study.” H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

In his dissertation, he presented an improved and less invasive process of coronary angiography: inserting a specially-designed double-loop catheter through the femoral artery in order to introduce a radiopaque contrast medium that would be detected through radiological imaging of the coronary artery. This technique was soon widely adopted. Paulin continued to work throughout his career to develop and refine the method, considering also the complications of coronary angiography, the side effects and toxicity of various contrast agents, and the quantification of coronary angiogram results.

Paulin designed molds for two catheter sizes (18mm and 24mm, pictured above) for the preparation of the new double-loop catheter. Molding the catheter was a multi-step process, as illustrated in his published dissertation. The catheter was first heated over an open flame, then threaded snugly through the grooves on the mold.  After securing in place with the metal cylinder case, the tip of the mold was immersed first in boiling water, then cooled in cold water. Finally, five holes were pierced into the side of the catheter, before rotating the catheter off of the mold.

Portable coil water heater used by Sven Paulin in the preparation of the double-loop catheter. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Portable coil water heater used by Sven Paulin in the preparation of the double-loop catheter. H MS c433. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the Sven Paulin papers, Center staff found the two catheter molds designed by Paulin during his doctoral research. The portable coil water heater that he used to boil water during the molding process is also part of the collection. These items will be transferred to the Warren Anatomical Museum collection.  Paulin’s papers also include his: teaching and lecture records (including lecture slides and cine angiogram film recordings); writings and publications; professional administrative records generated through his service at both Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School; records of his participation in professional radiology and cardiology organizations; and personal and professional correspondence, among other papers. For more information on the collection, please contact Jessica Sedgwick, Collections Services Archivist.

Center Receives Harvard Six Cities Study Research Data

By , June 4, 2018

Between 1974 and 1977, Harvard Six Cities Study researchers recruited residents who then completed questionnaires about their medical and occupational history, and underwent lung function (spirometry) tests. In this 1961 photo, a spirometer is demonstrated at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Respiratory Health Effects of Respirable Particles and Sulfur Oxides, commonly called the Harvard Six Cities Study, followed the respiratory health and air pollution exposure of children and adults living in six US communities between 1975 and 1988 (Harriman, Tennessee; Portage, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; Steubenville, Ohio; Topeka, Kansas; and Watertown, Massachusetts). Techniques were advanced to understand indoor, outdoor, and personal exposure to particles, acid aerosol, acid gases, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone, among other contaminants. Sponsors of the study included the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The results were stunning. Residents of Steubenville—the city with the dirtiest air among the six studied—were 26% more likely to die almost two years earlier than citizens of Portage, which boasted the cleanest air.  These results paved the way for the nation’s first-ever Clean Air Act regulations on particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter—rules that are now responsible for adding years to thousands of lives.

The historical narrative of the Six Cities Study has been relatively well-captured through numerous publications and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health documentation; however, the long-term custody and preservation of the research data itself had yet to be addressed.

In September 2016, archivists from the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library, met with faculty and researchers involved in the study to establish a plan, and in December 2016, custody of the data was transferred to the Center. Over the following six months, this large collection was rehoused, box listed, and cataloged. In addition to paper, Center staff discovered data in a variety of formats, including legacy media. Archivists also discovered photographs of researchers taking measurements in the field, background correspondence, and records relating to early precursor studies from one of the Harvard Six Cities Study’s early Principal Investigators, Benjamin Ferris.

Legacy media from the Harvard Six Cities Study being reviewed by archivists in June 2017.

In October 2017, after the physical transfer of the records had been completed, Center staff met again with faculty and researchers to better understand the types of data present in the collection and to determine how to facilitate future access. The group also discussed the various types of filters and media present in the collection to appraise their current research value.

Future collaborations are anticipated to help celebrate this significant study and its continued impact and relevance in today’s political climate.

The HOLLIS record relating to the Harvard Six Cities Study’s sponsored project administration records can be viewed here.The study’s original published findings (1993, NEJM) can be read online.

Henry Pickering Bowditch Papers Open to Research

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Henry Pickering Bowditch papers, 1833-1961 (inclusive), 1860-1900 (bulk), are re-processed and open to research.

Henry Pickering Bowditch was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 4, 1840 to Lucy Orne Nichols (1816-1883) and Jonathan Ingersoll Bowditch (1806-1889). He entered Harvard College in 1857 and graduated in 1861 with a bachelor’s degree; he began studies at the Lawrence Scientific School in Cambridge the same year, but left to volunteer for the Union Army. Bowditch served as a cavalry officer until 1865 when he resigned his command and returned to the Lawrence Scientific School and Harvard Medical School. He received his M.D. in 1868 and travelled to Europe to study medicine. Bowditch studied in France and Germany between 1868 and 1871, eventually specializing in the study of physiology under the tutelage of Carl Ludwig (1816-1895) in Leipzig, Germany.

In 1871, Bowditch returned to the United States with his wife, Selma Knauth (1853-1918), and accepted an assistant professorship in physiology at Harvard Medical School. Bowditch established his first physiological laboratory in the old medical school building on North Grove Street in 1872. Bowditch accepted a promotion to full professor in 1876. In 1903, he was given the newly established George Higginson professorship in physiology. Bowditch taught at Harvard for 35 years, resigning in 1906.

Bowditch studied physiology throughout his teaching and research career, focusing on studies of the nerves and the cardiac muscles. He was interested in long-term growth studies and presented data from one of the first, on Boston schoolchildren, at a Boston Society of Medical Sciences meeting in 1872. Bowditch continued to work on comparative growth studies through the 1890s. He was an active pro-vivisectionist, campaigning in favor of animal experimentation in the 1890s when efforts were being made to restrict the use of laboratory animals. He was one of the founding members of the American Physiological Society in 1887 and served as the Society’s second president after S. Weir Mitchell. Bowditch was also on the first editorial board for the American Journal of Physiology when it was founded in 1898.

The collection consists mainly of correspondence but also includes family research records, personal papers including military records, and a small amount of writing and manuscript material.

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