Harvard Cancer Commission Records Open for Research

By , April 4, 2018

Collis P. Huntington Memorial Hospital

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Harvard University Cancer Commission records, 1888-1945. The records include correspondence, administrative reports, meetings minutes, and financial ledgers and statements. The collection also contains records related to patient treatment, including the therapeutic use of radium and x-rays, ledgers detailing the treatment of patients, correspondence regarding autopsy results, and microscopic and diagnostic results.

The Harvard University Cancer Commission began with a donation of $100,000 from the Caroline Brewer Croft Fund. The donation was made after her death in 1899 and was placed under the control of physicians Henry K. Oliver and J. Collins Warren, who placed the funds with Harvard University in order to develop and endow an organization dedicated to the study and treatment of cancer. The Caroline Brewer Croft Cancer Commission was founded on June 16, 1899, and was changed to the Harvard University Cancer Commission in 1909, in order to allow for the consolidation of funding. In 1910, fundraising began for a new hospital to be operated by the Commission to aid in its research. A donation of $100,000 from Mrs. Collis P. Huntington allowed for the construction of the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Hospital in 1912. Also affiliated with the Commision were William T. Bovie, William Duane, Joseph Aub, Shields Warren, Edward D. Churchill, and Nobel Prize winner George Richards Minot. With the Commission facing financial difficulties, the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Hospital was closed on January 1, 1942, with its records, clinical work, and laboratories being transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The functions of the Cancer Commission were taken over by the Harvard Medical School Commission on Special Diseases in 1947 and by the Committee on Research and Development in 1949.

The finding aid for the Commission records can be found here.

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

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