Hermann Lisco papers are open for research

By , December 18, 2017

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Hermann Lisco Papers, 1899-2000 (inclusive), 1940-1974 (bulk) to research. Joseph Giese, a Center intern who completed his studies at the Simmons College School of Library and Information Sciences in December, processed this collection and wrote this post with the supervision of Betts Coup.

Herman Lisco (1910-2000), M.D., 1936, University of Berlin, was a German-born pathologist who first worked as an assistant at the University of Berlin at the Charite-Krankenhaus briefly the year he graduated, before departing Germany due to its political climate for the United State – he was married to a Jewish woman. After immigrating, he began working as an assistant and instructor at Johns Hopkins University Medical School and Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, where he remained for four years.  In 1940, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to work at Harvard Medical School, and served as an instructor of pathology there for another four years. At that time, he was recruited by the Biology and Health Division of the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory, Manhattan District of the U.S. Army, also known as the Manhattan Project, where he became the first doctor to perform an autopsy on an individual who had died of acute radiation poisoning.  In 1947, he went to work for the Argonne National Laboratory until 1957.  In 1967, he returned to work at Harvard Medical School as a professor, and worked as an Associate Dean (1969), Associate Professor of Anatomy (1970-1977), Deputy Chairman of Medical Sciences (1977-1982). He formally retired in 1981 as an Associate Professor of Anatomy.

Lisco’s research focused on the carcinogenic effects of plutonium and the radiotoxicity of other elements and chemicals on humans and lab animals, as well as radiation’s effects on the formation of tumors and lymphoma.  He wrote often on the “acute radiation syndrome” provoked in organisms by excessive exposure to radiation, and much of his research focused on cancer, and the side effects of radiation therapy on patients being treated for cancer.  He conducted a number of trips to Europe that dealt with studying the incidence of leukemia in women treated with radiotherapy for cervical cancer.  Much of his work was devoted to the study of the pathological effects of atomic radiation, and the importance of radiological protection and importance of medical supervision in radiation work.

The collection reflects Lisco’s professional, research, and publishing activities, but also his personal activities and interests.  Contained within are research records, selected reprints, notes, medical images, speeches, and programs from meetings of organizations of which he was There is also correspondence of a more personal nature, including letters concerning conscientious objector status, letters to specialist physicians and former students who were not particularly connected to research Lisco was undertaking, newspaper updates on the political situation in Germany 1989-1990, information about his inner life, photographs of Lisco himself and a number of people with whom he had interacted over the course of his career, and scrapbooks with grade reports from his life in Germany between the years of 1918 to 1936, dating back to as early as when he was eight years old.

The finding aid can be found at: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00399.

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

Jeffries Wyman papers are open for research

By , December 18, 2017

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Jeffries Wyman, 1814-1874, papers are open for research. Jeffries Wyman was the Hersey Professor of Anatomy at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1847 to 1874, as well as the first curator of what came to be known as the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology (1866-1874), also in Cambridge. He was the President of the Boston Society of Natural History (1856-1870), and a councilor of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Though a graduate with a medical doctorate from Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, following graduation Wyman chose to focus on naturalist research, including but not limited to studies of human and comparative anatomy, physiological observations, as well as paleontological and ethnological examinations of fossils, and observations of animal habits. The papers include records relating to his work as a researcher, professor, and author, as well as related professional activities.

Wyman was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts on 1814 August 11 to Ann Morrill Wyman and Dr. Rufus Wyman (1778-1842), the first physician at the McClean Asylum for the Insane and professional partner of Dr. John Jeffries, after whom his son was named. He attended Philllips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and entered Harvard College in 1829, graduating at age nineteen in 1833. Wyman went on to attend Harvard Medical School, acting as house pupil at Massachusetts General Hospital during his four years of study. He graduated with his medical doctorate in 1837. He became a Demonstrator for John C. Warren at Harvard Medical School (1838), and began to shift the focus of his career away from medicine towards anatomy. Wyman then became the Curator at the Lowell Institute, Boston, in 1839, where he delivered a series of public lectures, and remained an affiliate until 1842. Over the next several years, Wyman traveled to Europe to study with doctors, anatomists, scientists, and naturalists such as Richard Owen (1804-1892), P. (Pierre) Flourens (1794-1867), Francois Magendi (1783-1855), H.-M. Ducrotay de (Henri-Marie Ducrotay) Blainville (1777-1850), Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1805-1861), and H. (Henri) Milne-Edwards (1800-1885). Wyman then returned to the Boston area, and on 1847 April 03 was appointed the first Hersey Professor of Anatomy at Harvard University, as this position was moved from Harvard Medical School in Boston to Harvard University in Cambridge following the resignation of John C. Warren. He returned to the Lowell Institute for a series of twelve lectures on Comparative Physiology in 1849. Wyman was involved with the formation of the Museum of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, and in 1866, when George Peabody (1795-1869) founded what became known as the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology in 1866, Wyman became its first curator.

Wyman is known for his work on topics that span human and comparative anatomy, physiological observations, paleontological and ethnological studies of fossils, observation of animal behaviors and habits, and the study of cells, muscular, and bone structures of various animals. He wrote papers on large apes and was responsible for naming the gorilla, and studied the eye and hearing organs of fish in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. He examined the passage of nerves throughout the body and carried out various experiments relating to the impact of heated or boiling water on organic matter and living organisms. Wyman furthermore studied the development of mold, the impact of light on tadpole development, and created methods for measuring the velocity and force of ciliary movements. He went to the Dutch colonized islands in the Guianas to study various species of fish, and traveled down the east coast of the United States and into Florida examining the natural landscape and its flora and fauna. Additionally, he was involved with the trial of Dr. John White Webster for the murder of Dr. George Parkman; for which he studied bone fragments and assisted with the identification of the body of the deceased. He also studied the brain and skull of Daniel Webster, examining the arrangement of the spiculae of bone in the neck of the femur and making observations on the cranial structure.

Wyman married Adeline Wheelright in 1850, and they had two daughters, Mary (1855-) and Susan (1851-1907). Wheelright died in 1855. Wyman then married Anne Williams Whitney in 1861, with whom he had one son, Jeffries Wyman, Jr. (1864-1941). Whitney died in 1864. Wyman, who had suffered from pneumonia during his undergraduate study at Harvard College, dealt with pulmonary infections throughout his life. He died from a related illness on 1874 September 04 in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. His grandson, Jeffries Wyman III (1901-1995) was a molecular biologist and biophysicist, and was also a professor at Harvard Medical School and later the University of Rome.

The papers are the product of Wyman’s professional activities during his career as a naturalist and anatomist, carrying out scientific research during travels and research in residence at Harvard University and the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, and teaching at Harvard University and the Lowell Institute. The papers include numerous diaries, sketches, and anatomical drawings recording his observations, and correspondence with peers and colleagues including Charles Darwin on topics of anatomy and evolution, as well as correspondence with family members and friends. T

The finding aid for the Wyman papers can be found: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00424.

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


William T. Bovie Papers Open to Research

By , December 8, 2017

William T. Bovie

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the William T. Bovie papers, 1890-1953 (inclusive). Bovie earned a Ph.D. in plant physiology from Harvard University in 1914, moved to the Harvard Cancer Commission as a research fellow, and in 1920 became Assistant Professor of Biophysics. While at Harvard, Bovie developed his electrosurgical device, a scalpel that could cut and seal using the effects of high frequency current, which minimized blood loss, infection, and tissue damage. This work was done in collaboration with Harvey Cushing, Surgeon-in-Chief at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Bovie later taught at Northwestern University and Colby College, and worked in the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1920.

William T. Bovie Bookplate

The papers are the product of Bovie’s activities as biophysicist, researcher and author, and professor. The papers contain records from Bovie’s research activities, lecture notes from courses in biophysics and social technology given by him at Harvard University and Northwestern University, and speeches on a variety of topics given to public audiences and professional societies. The collection also contains collected films, drafts and notes related to his professional writings, and personal correspondence and biographical records.

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

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

Leslie Silverman Papers Open to Research

By , December 8, 2017
Leslie Silverman

Leslie Silverman

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Leslie Silverman papers, 1920-1967 (inclusive). Leslie Silverman (1914-1966), was an engineer specializing in air pollution and industrial hygiene. At Harvard School of Public Health he was Professor of Engineering in Environmental Hygiene, and Head of the Department of Industrial Hygiene (1961-1966). While a student at Harvard in the Graduate School of Engineering, Silverman was a Gordon McKay Scholar and Research Fellow. At the Harvard School of Public Health, he was appointed Assistant Professor (1945), Associate Professor (1948), and Professor (1958), and succeeded Philip Drinker as Head of the Department of Industrial Hygiene (1961). He was the Director of the Radiological Hygiene program and the Harvard Air Cleaning Laboratory at Harvard School of Public Health. During World War II, Silverman worked with Drinker and his brother Cecil Drinker on the development of the L-12 aviation oxygen supply mask, as well as on chemical warfare masks. After the end of World War II, he worked on research related to atomic power and served on the Statutory Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, the principle safety advisor to the Atomic Energy Commission. Silverman also worked as a consulting engineer, on issues regarding air pollution control, industrial hygiene, and industrial ventilation.

Leslie Silverman and Philip Drinker

Leslie Silverman and Philip Drinker

The Leslie Silverman papers, 1920-1967, are the product of his activities as a consultant, researcher, and Harvard School of Public Health faculty member. The papers include records from Silverman’s work as a consultant, records related to his patent applications, and his professional writings on topics in air pollution and industrial hygiene. The collection also contains records related his involvement with national committees and his attendance at professional conferences, subject files and publications related to his research interests, as well as personal correspondence and biographical records.

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

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

Zerka T. Moreno papers are open for research

By , December 6, 2017

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Zerka T. Moreno Papers to research.

View the finding aid:  Zerka T. Moreno papers, 1930-2010 (inclusive), 1957-2000 (bulk)

0004864_ref Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on 1917 June 13, Zerka T. (Toeman) Moreno attended secondary school in the Netherlands before relocating to London, England, in 1932, where she attended technical school. At that time, she planned to become an artist or fashion designer, with a special interest in designing for the stage. Moreno moved to the United States in 1939, shortly after the beginning of World War II, and in 1941, arranged for her sister to move to Beacon, New York, for treatment at the Beacon Hill Sanatorium with J. L. (Jacob Levy) Moreno (1889-1974). That same year, Zerka T. Moreno became interested in J.L. Moreno’s study of psychodrama and group psychotherapy, and began studying under him, acting as his private secretary to earn her scholarship. When J.L. Moreno opened the Sociometric Institute in New York City, she became his research assistant and moved to work at the Institute (which was later renamed the Moreno Institute, and eventually relocated back to Beacon). Zerka T. Moreno continued to develop as a leader of group psychotherapy workshops and instructor, and worked directly alongside J.L. Moreno throughout the latter decades of his life.

In 1947, the two founded the journal Sociatry, which later became known as Group Psychotherapy, which published research regarding the social sciences of sociatry, psychodrama, and sociometry. During the 1950s, both Zerka and J.L. Moreno served as adjunct professors at New York University, teaching courses about psychodrama. She was the cofounder of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy and the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama, and spent much of her career traveling for psychotherapy and psychodrama workshops. After J.L. Moreno’s death in 1974, Zerka T. Moreno continued to work as a psychotherapist. With Merlyn S. Pitzele (1911-1995), she continued to attend to patients and offer teaching sessions in Beacon and New York City as well as countless American and international locations. In 1996, she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, and in 2013, after breaking a hip, moved into a nursing home in 2013 in Rockville, Maryland. She continued to see patients from her bed at the nursing home until shortly before her death.

The collection reflects Moreno’s efforts to lead group psychotherapy sessions and provide instruction in the field of psychodrama. Records include workshop and training records, collected writings and publications, professional activities records, correspondence, personal papers, as well as records pertaining to the management of the Moreno Institute.

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

Finding One’s Path on the Road of Research: An Intern’s Journey

By , December 5, 2017

Nina Rodwin, UMass Boston Public History Student

Nina Rodwin is a second-year UMass Boston public history graduate student. Her interest is late 19th-century American history, with a specific focus on women’s history and medical history.  She is currently an intern at the Center for the History of Medicine.

When I started my internship at Harvard’s Countway Library of Medicine, my project adviser, Joan Ilacqua, project archivist for the Archives for Women in Medicine, and I decided to investigate digitized journals between 1900 and 1920 from the Medical Heritage Library’s State Medical Society Journals project to uncover the effects of the 1910 Flexner Report on women’s medical education. The goal of the project was to create a digital exhibit about the state of medical education before and after the Flexner Report to better understand how women medical students and physicians were influenced by Flexner’s recommendations. However, as I conducted my research, I found that this topic connected to multiple issues beyond the question of women’s education in the medical field. These new avenues opened the exhibit to larger questions regarding sex, class, gender, and race during the early 20th century.

In 1908, Professor Abraham Flexner was hired by the Council on Medical Education, (a branch of the American Medical Association) to travel to each American medical school and evaluate the overall institution; from  curriculum, to the number of faculty, to the condition of laboratories and libraries. Flexner’s findings were unnerving and the quality of medical schools varied wildly. Flexner recommended that schools with financial means should emulate the quality of education seen at Johns Hopkins University, one of the first medical schools affiliated with a teaching hospital that also required laboratory experience for all its students. Flexner strongly recommended that schools which could not afford such expensive upgrades be closed.

Modern analysis of the Flexner report shows that his decisions meant that most women’s and Black medical schools were closed, as these institutions often had fewer funds. While medical students in the early 20th century were more likely to learn the latest medical techniques from prestigious institutions, many women and Black medical students were barred from these opportunities, as many schools (including Harvard) openly refused to admit them or admitted them in minuscule numbers. When I began this project, I assumed that these issues would be reflected and discussed in the state medical journals of the time.

I imagined discovering blustering editorials, where the authors would be offended at the very the idea of women entering the medical field. However, I struggled to find any editorial that even mentioned women, yet alone any that excoriated them for being in the field. I found many articles and editorials that dryly reported the progress of medical education and criticized the Flexner Report for its negative conclusions, but none discussed what these changes would mean for women medical students.

Finding little evidence connecting the Flexner Report to women’s education in medical schools was particularly important– it demonstrated that many physicians in the early 20th century were no longer outraged by the idea of women practicing medicine. The research showed that the question for women physicians in the early 20th century was not a debate surrounding their abilities or rights to practice medicine, but was rather a debate surrounding which kinds of medical fields were best suited for women.

The Woman’s Medical Journal, Vol. XV, No. 4. April 1905.

In fact, women physicians during the early 1900s went to great efforts to prove sex discrimination was a relic of the past. This belief however, was often countered by their own experiences, as seen in editorials from The Woman’s Medical Journal. These editorials were especially interesting when compared with editorials from state medical journals, as both used cultural ideas about women, motherhood, and women’s natural abilities to argue for or against women in certain fields. As my research progressed, I was especially drawn to the differences between the Women’s Medical Journal (WMJ) and the Pennsylvania Medical Journal. (PMJ) While both journals contained medical articles, the WMJ also had a social justice slant, advocating for women’s medical education across the world, endorsing a woman’s right to vote, and demonstrating that women physicians were just as capable as their male counterparts. Both journals portrayed women in the medical field, but PMJ often emphasized traditional ideas about a “women’s place.” For example, there are many articles in the PMJ, including this toast given in 1907, about the self-sacrificing wives of male physicians, but no mention of the struggle women physicians faced balancing their social, professional and domestic roles.

Caption from “The Doctor’s Wife,” a speech given by H.J. Bell, MD in 1907.

My research found that the fields of anesthesiology and lab work were seen as ideal place for women physicians. Public health was especially popular for women physicians, as its focus on the household, parenting, dieting, and children’s health were considered extensions of a woman’s natural role as caretaker and mother. However, white women physicians in the field of public health in the early 20th century often advocated for eugenic practices, including limiting marriages to those considered “fit” and the sterilization of those considered “unfit.” So as white women advocated for equality in the medical field, they also encouraged policies that targeted and discriminated women from marginalized groups. While this topic is quite disturbing, I have found this section of my research the most interesting, as the concepts advocating for White Supremacy are very similar both in the early 20th century and today.

I believe that making historical connections to modern events can be a great tool to help connect today’s audiences to the past. The issue of discrimination against women in the workplace is still very relevant today, especially in the medical field. The decisions made by the Flexner Report still affect medical education today. Although women’s enrollment in medical schools was almost evenly split with men in 2016, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and rates of minority student enrollment has increased over time, Latino and Black students only comprise 20% of incoming medical students nationwide although these statistics do not break down minority applicants by gender.  Furthermore, women in the workforce still struggle with societal expectations of motherhood and marriage, making the balance between their personal lives and professional lives much harder. Although my research evolved from a project specifically on the Flexner Report to an analysis of women in medicine in the early 20th century, I hope my forthcoming exhibit can shed light on how far women have come, while reminding my audience that many obstacles remain. I look forward to completing the internship and presenting my findings.



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