Staff Finds: Osseous Development Rate Classification Charts

By , January 30, 2017
Male osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943.

Male osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the records of the Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development (aka “The Growth Study”), processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine recently found male and female osseous development charts that were developed in 1943 by Vernette S. Vickers Harding, with the Harvard School of Public Health.  The chart is used to classify children into five categories of speed of osseous development, based on the epiphyses present at each age.  It’s a cumulative chart, so a child with a higher rating can be expected to have all of the epiphyses listed in the lower categories, up to and including his or her age.

Although the source of Harding’s data is unclear, the copyright year and information in her related publications make it likely that she used Growth Study data.  Even though the Growth Study records only contain occasional x-ray films, the records do include detailed x-ray examination and measurement records that were collected during the original study (which followed subjects from birth through 18 years).  This data is maintained alongside other forms of growth and measurement data, including raw and analyzed anthropometric measurement data, and progressive photographs taken of subjects throughout their first 18 years in 6-month intervals.

Female osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943.

Female osseous development table (0-18 years), by Vernette S. Vickers, Harvard School of Public Health, 1943. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Harvard School of Public Health Longitudinal Studies of Child Health and Development were founded in 1930 by the Department of Maternal and Child Health, and follow-up studies continued through the 1980s.  You can find out more about the collection here.  The records are expected to be open to research in summer 2016.  Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  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.

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