Center Receives S.T. Lee Innovation Grant

By , July 10, 2018

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that it has received S.T. Lee Innovation Grant funding for its 2018 proposal, “Beyond the Beyond Box.” The application was one of nineteen proposals to bring together Harvard faculty members and library staff; of the nineteen, only six projects were funded. Dominic Hall, Curator, Warren Anatomical Museum, will be spearheading the initiative in partnership with Professor Anne Harrington, Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science.

Plaster head cast made of Phineas Gage by Henry Jacob Bigelow at Harvard Medical School in 1850 to substantiate the specifics of Gage’s neurotrauma

“Beyond the Bone Box” was inspired by Harvard Medical School’s retired bone box program, which enabled medical students to borrow sets of human bones for home study, and developed in partnership with Harvard faculty, curators, archivists, and librarians, this project will develop three circulating resources that contain 3D-printed copies of Warren Anatomical Museum specimens highly contextualized by surrogates of special collections materials. Through this project, the Center seeks to democratize access to unique and sensitive collections through quality fungible surrogates and engender new forms of engagement with Harvard’s special collections across its library system.

The first circulating resource will be a teaching kit built around the case of Phineas Gage, the 19th century railroad foreman whose prefrontal cortex injury has been used to academically and popularly illustrate post-traumatic social disinhibition for the last 150 years.

Project work will begin in September. For the complete list of Lee Innovation Grant award recipients, click here.

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.

Simmons Intern Processes the Elinor Kamath Papers

By , June 18, 2018
Charlotte Lellman, Simmons Processing Intern (Spring 2018). Charlotte processed the Elinor Kamath papers.

Charlotte Lellman, Simmons Processing Intern (Spring 2018). Charlotte processed the Elinor Kamath papers.

This is a guest post from our latest Simmons College intern, Charlotte Lellman, who recently processed the Elinor Kamath papers.

Over the past four months, my last semester as a student at Simmons School of Library and Information Science, I had the opportunity to intern at the Center for the History of

Medicine. During my time at the Center, I processed the Elinor Kamath papers under the supervision of Amber LaFountain. When I arrived, not much was known about Kamath or her records, but as I practiced my classroom knowledge on real records, I also got to know more about Kamath’s life and work.

Elinor Kamath (1915-1992) was a researcher at Stanford Medical School’s Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, and her major research focus was the events known as the “thalidomide crisis” or “thalidomide disaster.” The thalidomide crisis began in the 1950s and 1960s, when pregnant women with symptoms of morning sickness were treated with thalidomide. Many of these women gave birth to children with significant congenital conditions, such as absence of arms or legs. The people who had congenital conditions from thalidomide grew up to call themselves “thalidomiders,” and many continue advocacy for compensation and justice from pharmaceutical companies, particularly in countries outside the United States, such as Canada and England. In addition to learning a lot about the tragic injustices of the thalidomide crisis, I learned a lot about Kamath from studying the records she left. I discovered scraps of handwritten poetry written to her female colleagues in a male-dominated workplace; I discovered her tidy budgeting records, a necessity for reimbursement in the paper-based era; and I saw how her drive to document the thalidomide crisis forced her to self-advocate for research funding, which was often unstable.

Kamath’s records were my opportunity to practice each step of archival processing: surveying, refoldering, box listing, preservation photocopying, describing, and cataloging the collection. Throughout the process, I benefitted from the Center’s efficient and well-established protocols and templates, as well as the staff’s archival experience.

The Center for the History of Medicine is now pleased to announce the opening of the Elinor Kamath papers, 1838-1987 (inclusive), 1956-1984 (bulk). The papers, 1838-1987 (inclusive), 1956-1984 (bulk), were generated through Kamath’s many years of studying the events known as the “thalidomide crisis” or “thalidomide disaster.” Kamath’s research included correspondence with Widukind Lenz and William McBride, two doctors who were the first to recognize the connection between thalidomide and congenital conditions, as well as many other doctors, researchers, and pharmaceutical businesspeople. The papers represent Kamath’s research on legal cases in which a thalidomider or a family member brought litigation against a pharmaceutical company that distributed a thalidomide drug. The collection also includes papers from Kamath’s work as a journalist and translator, and a manuscript draft of Kamath’s unpublished book, Echo of Silence: The Causes and Consequences of the Thalidomide Disaster.

Processing a manuscript collection at the Center for the History of Medicine gave me a context in which to consider the implications of my archival decisions. With Amber, I discussed questions of terminology, provenance, arrangement, all of which were significant to how researchers will use and understand the Elinor Kamath papers.

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

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

Pride Month Collection Highlight: Ethel Collins Dunham and Martha May Eliot

By , June 8, 2018

Ethel Collins Dunham (right) and Martha May Eliot, 1915, Schlesinger Library

Ethel Collins Dunham and Martha May Eliot dedicated their lives and careers to the care of children. The pair met at Bryn Mawr College in 1910 and both women achieved major professional positions and research throughout their careers. They remained a couple until Dunham’s death in 1969.

Ethel Collins Dunham was born in 1883 in Hartford, Connecticut into a privileged family. She graduated from high school in 1901, and then spent several years traveling. She decided to pursue a career in medicine and enrolled in science classes at Hartford High School and graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1914. She began her medical training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1914 with Martha May Eliot.

Martha May Eliot was born in 1891 in Boston, Massachusetts to a Boston Brahmin family. She enrolled in Radcliffe, but after her first year, went to spend her sophomore year at Bryn Mawr College to pursue a “romantic friendship” with another girl. The relationship did not last, but Eliot met Ethel Dunham, and the two decided to pursue medicine together. Eliot graduated from Radcliffe in 1913, and when Dunham graduated in 1914, they entered Johns Hopkins Medical School together. The two lived together while at school, and attempted to get internships together at Johns Hopkins. Eliot turned down an offered internship at Johns Hopkins because Dunham was not accepted, and took an internship at Peter Brigham Hospital in Boston. Ironically, Dunham was ultimately accepted to Johns Hopkins Hospital. The next year they attempted to coordinate residency, but Eliot took a pediatrics residency at St Louis Children’s Hospital, while Dunham went to New Haven Hospital. The two were unable to reunite until Eliot was invited to be the first chief resident at Yale’s new department of pediatrics.

Both women remained at Yale for many years. Dunham was appointed instructor at Yale School of Medicine in 1920, promoted to assistant professor in 1924 and associate clinical professor in 1927. Eliot also rose through the ranks, serving as instructor, assistant, clinical professor, and then associate clinical professor from 1932 to 1935.

In 1935, Dunham was appointed chief of child development at the Children’s Bureau, where Eliot was appointed assistant chief. Dunham, whose specialty was in newborn babies, and in particular, premature babies, established national standards for the care of newborns. Meanwhile, Eliot was known for her contributions to the studies of rickets, and her public health approach to coordinating studies that established minimum daily vitamin requirements for children to prevent rickets.

Martha May Eliot

From 1949 to 1951, Dunham worked at the World Health Organization, studying premature birth in Geneva. When Eliot was appointed head of the Children’s Bureau in 1951, she and Dunham moved together to Washington, DC. Dunham retired in 1952, and when Eliot resigned in 1957, the women relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Eliot became the head of the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. After retiring in 1960, Eliot continued her work for the World Health Organization and UNICEF, reporting on medical education in Asia and Africa, while also teaching for the American Public Health Association.

Both women had highly decorated careers. In 1948, Eliot was the first woman elected president of the American Public Health Association and was awarded a Lasker Medal. In 1957, Dunham was awarded the John Howland Medal by the American Pediatric Society. She was the first woman to receive the award. Eliot was the second, and was honored in 1967. Eliot was also awarded the Sedgwick Memorial Medal in 1958 by the American Public Health Association (APHA), and in 1964, the APHA commemorated Eliot’s legacy by establishing the Martha May Eliot Award for outstanding service to maternal and child health.

Although Eliot and Dunham had great achievements throughout their careers, they were not strangers to discrimination and homophobia. Eliot, after graduating from Radcliffe College, applied to Harvard Medical School which did not admit women at the time, and both were attacked by Senator James Reed of Missouri in a tirade against the Children’s Bureau in 1921, when he called the bureau out as a place where “the only people capable of caring for babies and mothers of babies are ladies who have never had babies.” Neither woman’s New York Times obituary mentions their relationship, but their records, held at the Center for the History of Medicine and Schlesinger Library shed light onto their public and private lives, as well as their dual contributions to the field of maternal and child health.

For more information on the many contributions of Martha May Eliot and Ethel Collins Dunham, see:

The Archives for Women in Medicine is a program of the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Archives for Women in Medicine actively acquires, processes, preserves, provides access to, and publicizes the papers of women physicians, researchers, and medical administrators. Interested in learning more? Visit countway.harvard.edu/awm or contact Project Archivist Joan Ilacqua.

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.

Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery closed Memorial Day, May 28th.

By , May 25, 2018

Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery, Collection of the Warren Anatomical Museum, 2010

The Warren Museum Exhibition Gallery will be closed on Memorial Day, May 28th. There will be no access to the Museum, Center for the History of Medicine, or the Countway Library of Medicine. More information can be found on the Countway Library website.

George Packer Berry Dean Records Open to Research

By , May 22, 2018
George Packer Berry

George Packer Berry

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the records of the Office of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, during the tenure of George Packer Berry from 1949 to 1965.

George Packer Berry (1898-1986) A.B., Princeton University, M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, came to Harvard Medical School from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, where he served as Head of the Department of Bacteriology and Associate Dean. As Dean of Harvard Medical School, Berry oversaw the development of the Harvard Medical Center in 1956, which brought Harvard Medical School and its affiliated teaching hospitals together under one corporate organization, and also served as the Center’s first President. The Program for Harvard Medicine was created in 1960 to raise funds for Harvard Medical School. In addition, Berry oversaw the development and construction of the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. He was President of the Association of American Medical Colleges (1951-1952) and earned the Association’s Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education in 1961. Berry was a trustee of both American University of Beirut and Princeton University.

George Packer Berry and Otto Krayer

George Packer Berry and Otto Krayer

The records of the Office of the Dean are the product of the activities of the Dean of Harvard Medical School, during the years 1949-1965 under the tenure of Dean Berry. Included are records from the administrative activities of the Office of the Dean, including administrative staff meetings, the planning and construction of Countway Library, and correspondence, reports, meeting records, and promotional materials for the Program for Harvard Medicine. Also included are records related to the Dean’s interactions with Harvard-affiliated hospitals and records from his tenure as a trustee of American University of Beirut, his tenure as Vice President and President of the Association of American Medical Colleges, as well as his roles as Director of the Commonwealth Fund and Director of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation. The collection includes records resulting from the activities of standing and ad hoc committees at Harvard Medical School and records of the interactions of the Office of the Dean with Harvard University offices, departments, and organizations.

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.

Darwin DeForrest Douglas and the Government Contract

In 1862, surgeon general William Hammond convened a medical board to discuss the question of providing prosthetic limbs to Union soldiers who had undergone amputation after being wounded. The number of these men was increasing quickly and, if nothing else, Hammond wanted to get those who could be rehabilitated for military life back to the front. Men who would be demobilized back to civilian life also required support since a missing arm or leg could incapacitate a man who had been an active farmer or mechanic.

By the beginning of the Civil War, there were several well-known limb manufacturers in the United States, mostly along the Eastern seaboard. Benjamin Franklin Palmer had one of the first full-scale manufacturing plants and more than one of his workmen, including William Selpho, Douglas Bly, E.D. Hudson, Benjamin Jewett, and Darwin DeForrest Douglass, had gone on to create businesses of their own. The designs, including Palmer’s own, were mostly variations on a model that had been created in the early years of the nineteenth century in Britain for veterans of the Napoleonic wars. Arguments between makers were heated, however, as each tried to defend his own design as unique and, of course, better than the competition.

Hammond’s board asked several major limb manufacturers, including B.F. Palmer but not Douglass, to submit limbs for inspection. The board then planned to select the best and work out some plan whereby limbs and soldiers could be brought together. The main difficulties, it soon became clear, would be money and time: who was going to pay for the limb? and how much time should the soldier have to spend in getting it? Most limb manufacturers, including Palmer and Douglass, advised that limbs needed personal fitting — it wasn’t simply a matter of shipping off two dozen medium-size legs to a hospital and letting the staff hand them out.

The medical board never decided upon a single supplier and the Union government never signed a contract with a particular manufacturer for supplies of limbs. Instead, suppliers were given charge of particular geographic areas and soldiers in need of limbs were supposed to apply to their closest hospital. In practice, of course, this might mean a man would have to travel 200 miles roundtrip in order to get a limb — and the government stipend for prostheses did not cover travel or housing while waiting to be fitted or the multiple trips that might be necessary in order to adjust a new prosthesis properly.

Indeed, the stipend itself could be part of the problem. Since there was no official contract to control how much manufacturers could charge for a limb, just an unofficial “agreement,” several manufacturers, including Palmer and Selpho, were accused of price-gouging. Selpho, in fact, was firmly rebuked by Surgeon General Hammond more than once for taking money from soldiers over what was allowed by the government stipend.

Douglass, on the other hand, managed to benefit from the unofficial nature of the government arrangement without directly imposing on the soldier. Since there was no official government supplier, he argued that men coming to him to be fitted were simply exercising their freedom of choice in an open marketplace and the government should reimburse him as promised. However, it may also have been because he sold so few limbs in comparison to suppliers like Palmer, Selpho, and Jewett, that whatever price-fixing Douglass indulged in was not worth tracking down.

~For more, see Guy R. Hasegawa’s Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artifical Limbs (2012) and the D. DeForrest Douglass papers.

Panorama Theme by Themocracy