Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibition Gallery Closed December 22, 2018 through January 2, 2019.

By , December 22, 2018

Eagle skeleton prepared by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Warren Anatomical Museum in the Countway Library of Medicine

The Warren Anatomical Museum Exhibition Gallery on the 5th floor of the Countway Library of Medicine will be closed Monday 12/24/2018 through Tuesday 01/01/2019 for the Harvard University holiday break. The entire Countway, including the Warren Museum, will reopen on Wednesday, 01/02/2019. More about the Museum’s and Library’s hours can be found on the Countway website.


Staff Finds: Sanda Countway Correspondence

By , December 11, 2018
View of north corner and entrance bridge of Countway Library under construction

View of north corner and entrance bridge of Countway Library under construction

While processing the records from the Office of the Dean from the tenure of George Packer Berry, Center staff came across correspondence between Dean Berry, Sanda Countway, and General Robert Cutler, National Security Advisor to President Dwight Eisenhower and brother of Harvard Medical School professor and surgeon Elliott Carr Cutler. The discussions detail the background and aftermath of the 1958 gift Sanda Countway provided to Harvard Medical School for the construction of a new library in memory of her brother, Francis A. Countway, the former president of Lever Brothers, Inc. Additional gifts from Harold S. Vanderbilt, the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation, the Avalon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, the Susan P. Baker Trust, the James J. and M. Sears Minot Family Foundation and the Godfrey M. Hymans Trust completed the $6.5 million needed for the project. The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine opened in 1965.

Highlights of the correspondence can be found below.

The finding aid for the Office of the Dean of Harvard Medical School can be found here.

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

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.

Staff Finds: Albert Warren Stearns and Sacco and Vanzetti

By , December 10, 2018

Receipt for Sacco Examination

While processing the papers of Albert Warren Stearns, Center staff came across records related to Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. The Italian-born anarchists were convicted and then executed for the 1920 robbery and murder of two men in South Braintree, MA. Stearns was a psychiatrist and neurologist and he assisted in the examination of Nicola Sacco at Bridgewater State Hospital in 1923. The records include a bill, left, for the examination of Sacco sent to Norfolk County and correspondence, below, featuring a discussion with a Tufts colleague about the use of a drug as a way to compel Sacco and Vanzetti to tell the truth.

Albert Warren Stearns, 1885-1959, had a psychiatry private practice and regularly consulted for judicial and law enforcement entities. He earned his M.D. from Tufts College School of Medicine in 1910 and from 1927 to 1945 was the Dean of the Tufts College School of Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry. During the First and Second World Wars, he served in the medical corps of the United States Navy, evaluating and classifying the mental health of recruits for naval service.  After returning to Tufts from military service in 1945, Stearns became a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Sociology. He also served as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (1929-1933).

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

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

Apply now for a 2019-2020 New England Regional Fellowship!

By , December 7, 2018

The New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC) is now accepting applications for 2019-2020 research grants.

NERFC is a collaboration of twenty-seven major cultural agencies that will offer at least twenty awards in 2019–2020. Each grant provides a stipend of $5,000 for a total of at least eight weeks of research at three or more participating institutions beginning June 1, 2019, and ending May 31, 2020. The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine and its Center for the History of Medicine is a NERFC member.

NERFC will also make a special award in 2019–2020 on behalf of the The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, which will underwrite a project on the history of New England before the American Revolution.

All applications must be completed using our online form at www.nerfc.org/apply.

The deadline for applications is February 1, 2019.

Contact the Massachusetts Historical Society, by phone at 617-646-0577 or email fellowships@masshist.org, with questions. Download the poster or visit the NERFC website for a full list of participating member institutions.


Re-Centering the Narrative: A Brief History of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

By , December 4, 2018


On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia that afflicted “5 young men, all active homosexuals,” in Los Angeles.This report marked the beginning of public knowledge about the AIDS epidemic. What the report didn’t include was two other cases of the mysterious pneumonia – the first afflicting a gay African-American man, the other, a heterosexual Haitian man. This early omission of race was reflected throughout reporting during the HIV/AIDS crisis; historically the narrative focus has been on how the HIV/AIDS epidemic affected gay white men, while the experiences of American black and brown people with HIV/AIDS have been under documented, ignored, or written out of history.

In fact, the first case of HIV/AIDS discovered in the United States was Robert Rayford, a 16 year old black teenager from St. Louis, Missouri who died in 1969. The story of his sickness and  death, reported on in 1987, was eclipsed by the now disproven “Patient Zero” narrative that French-Canadian flight attendant, Gaëtan Dugas was the first person to bring HIV into the United States.

The time of mass HIV/AIDS deaths in the United States is largely behind us. A combination drug treatment, known as the AIDS cocktail, was discovered, leading to dramatic improvement in managing in HIV infection. After the introduction of the cocktail, the number of new AIDS-related deaths began to drop, starting in 1997. Today, HIV is a chronic condition for those with access to highly active antiretroviral therapy.

Quinn, Robert John, “Robert John Quinn’s Memorial Books, Volume A,” Documented | Digital Collections of The History Project

Despite the discovery of the cocktail more than 20 years ago, HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect African American and Latino men. According to the CDC, in 2016, African Americans accounted for 44% of HIV diagnoses, while Latinx people accounted for 26% of HIV diagnoses. Among Latino men, 85% of diagnosed HIV infections were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact, while more than half of African Americans (58%) who received an HIV diagnoses identified as gay or bisexual. The higher levels of HIV infection in black and brown communities of color is attributable to systemic bias, discrimination, structural racism, and lack of access to education and care. To face this ongoing crisis, we must acknowledge history and stories that have been hidden, and discuss how these histories can inform our current responses.

One of those stories is of Wilfred Colon Augusto, a Countway Library employee who died on September 17, 1991. Wilfred was a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, employed at Harvard Medical School, and by telephone company Nynex. He was active in the Latino Health Network. Wilfred’s obituary details:

Diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, Wilfred continued to live his life to its fullest. His great sense of humor and admiration for living allowed Wilfred to deal with the many challenges and the changing circumstances precipitated by AIDS. He enjoyed traveling, especially to his native Puerto Rico, and spending summers in Provincetown as well as dining out.

Today we remember Wilfred Colon Augusto, a member of the Harvard Medical School community, and a person whose story and experience should not be lost to history.


The Center for the History of Medicine in the Countway Library holds several collections related to the history of HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts and around the world, including the papers of:

  • Max Essex, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Steven L. Gortmaker, Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Stephen Lagakos, Professor of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Richard G. Marlink, Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Professor of the Practice of Public Health in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • 13 series of the Records of the Harvard AIDS Institute

The Center also holds oral history interviews and transcripts with hemophiliac men who were patients at the Boston Hemophilia Center, available on OnView.

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