Posts tagged: John C. Rock

2014-2015 Women in Medicine Fellow: Dr. Rebecca Kluchin

By , July 7, 2014

The Archives for Women in Medicine is pleased to announce our 2014-2015 Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Fellow: Rebecca Kluchin, Ph.D.

Rebecca M. Kluchin, 2014-2015 Women in Medicine Fellow

Rebecca M. Kluchin, 2014-2015 Women in Medicine Fellow

Dr. Kluchin is an Associate Professor of History at California State University, Sacramento, and studies the history of women’s reproductive health in the United States.  Her first book, Fit to Be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950-1980 (Rutgers University Press, 2005), won the Francis Richardson Keller-Sierra Award for best monograph published in 2009 from the Western Association of Women’s Historians.  Her current project, Pregnancy and Personhood: The Maternal-Fetal Relationship in America, 1850 to the Present, examines the evolution of the public and private relationship between a woman and her pregnancy and explores the ways in which changing definitions of fetal rights, fetal personhood, maternal responsibility, and abortion have shaped the experiences and cultural understanding of pregnancy for millions of women across race and class.

Kluchin’s research shows that efforts to grant personhood rights to the “unborn” in the United States date back to the 1850s and have not always been embroiled in the politics of abortion. Pregnancy and Personhood considers the extent to which women’s experience with prenatal care, pregnancy, and motherhood has been influenced by maternal-fetal politics and studies how these politics have changed over time and why. During her time at the Countway, Kluchin will make use of numerous collections including the papers of Alan Guttmacher, Arthur T. Hertig, John Rock, Leona Baumgartner, Amalie Kass and Benjamin Osgood and as well as the records of the Boston Lying-In Hospital. Among other things, she will track the evolution of prenatal care and the language physicians used to describe the fetus and their pregnant patients’ relationship to it.  She will also consult the Countway’s collection of obstetrics guides from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as the papers of M. Judah Folkman as they relate to thalidomide.

The Women in Medicine Fellowships are offered in partnership with the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.

Six More Online Exhibits from the Center

By , September 5, 2013

Preparation of dental fillings, submitted as student work by Frank Ellsworth Sprague, from the Lost Museum of the Harvard Dental School exhibit.

The Center for the History of Medicine continues to work hard at making its collections and exhibits available online in OnView, scanning hundreds of items from the Center’s rich collection to recreate the full visual experience of physical exhibits. OnView allows the user to view the exhibits as he or she would in the physical space, moving from item to item within the framework of the narrative. Individual items, collections, and exhibits can also be browsed and searched using subject terms and tags.

Six new exhibits, described below, have just been posted. More exhibits are coming soon.

A Broad Foundation
In 1883, Harvard Medical School moved into new quarters on Boylston Street in downtown Boston, and for the first time in a century, the school was able to provide adequate laboratory and clinical space for its students. A Broad Foundation traces the evolving history of medical education at Harvard— its faculty, students, curricula, and facilities—from the establishment of the school and its earliest days to its current state.

Conceiving the Pill
The work of John C. Rock was central to the development of the science of reproductive medicine. Conceiving the Pill follows the work of Rock and notable scientists Arthur T. Hertig and Gregory Pincus as they endeavored to conceive and deliver the birth control pill.

The Lost Museum of Harvard’s Dental School
Nearly as old as the Dental School itself, Harvard’s Dental Museum was originally intended to display specimens of mechanical dentistry prepared by graduating students. It soon became a repository for specimens of human and comparative odontology, pathology, and anatomy, instruments, models, photographs, and lantern and stereoscopic slides. The published Announcement of the Dental School for 1937 has a brief but detailed description of the Dental Museum, and information about the collection had been included in the annual catalogs for the prior sixty years. In the following year’s edition of the Announcement, however, no entry for the Museum is included, and one never appears again. Just what happened to Harvard’s Dental Museum, and where are its collections now?

To Slay the Devouring Monster
Smallpox is an ancient, terrifying, and deadly disease that has afflicted humanity for at least 2000 years. But today, smallpox is the only naturally occurring disease which is considered to be eradicated. In the bicentennial year of Benjamin Waterhouse’s vaccination experiments, the Countway Library of Medicine drew on its extraordinary collection of rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, letters, and artifacts—many of which were gifts from members of the Waterhouse family—to commemorate the first efforts to slay that devouring monster.

Gilt by Association
Just what makes something rare? While medical books or letters or instruments may be intrinsically interesting, offer historical insight, or fascinate simply by virtue of their age or scarcity, these items all acquire an added luster when we know where they came from and who owned them, used them, or even just touched them. Gilt by Association celebrates 800 years of milestones in the history of medicine through the rich and varied collections at the Countway Library of Medicine.

Magical Stones and Imperial Bones
Ranging from the thirteenth century to the twentieth, from the Winter Palace of the Czars of Russia, to the assassination of President Garfield, Magical Stones and Imperial Bones celebrates six centuries of significant developments in the history of medicine as documented by the diverse and wide-ranging collections here at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Center Displays at the Labrary

By , November 30, 2012

Richard Pearson Strong (center) and colleagues on The Harvard African Expedition of 1934. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine was invited to exhibit selections from its holdings at the Labrary, an innovation space at 92 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, hosted by the Library Test Kitchen, a Harvard Design School graduate course. The purpose of the Labrary display is to spark new thinking about the holdings and role of libraries.

The Center’s selections include a collection of 19th century calculi, early to mid-20th century games with medical themes, 19th century medical and dental instruments, and stereopticon cards from the Carnegie egg series to which HMS faculty members John Rock and Arthur Hertig contributed (ca. 1955). The Center also shared audio files from the Gamble-Cabot Cardiac Diagnoses Records (1916-1944), created to teach medical students how to interpret heart sounds, and three video files:

David Rutstein
lecturing on “Overweight” health issues on WGBH’s “The Facts of Medicine,” the nation’s first public health educational television show (1956);

Scans of the “Lowell hip,” the focus of a malpractice lawsuit in 1821 (2012); and

Tropical medicine pioneer Richard Pearson Strong traveling in Africa (1934).

Displays can be viewed from the street; the Labrary is also open 11-7 , Monday through Saturday. Center materials will be on view from December 1 – 20, 2012.

More information about this project will be added here as it becomes available.

A Popularity Contest? And the Winner Is…

From the John Rock Papers

A recent Wellcome Library blog post made us wonder about the relative popularity of our collections. What collections are drawing the most attention now? Has that changed since the increase in our online finding aids? What other factors might be at play?

We examined user records for 2009-2010 and found that use of rare books is declining, possibly due to the number of digital books now available through the Medical Heritage Library and other projects. Use of archives and manuscripts is up — specifically, for those collections that have online guides, and even more specifically, for those collections that were recently opened to research. No surprises here.

So, who won the contest? John Rock, co-inventor, with Gregory Pincus, of the birth control pill– the fiftieth anniversary of which, not coincidently, occurred in 2010. Rock’s professional records (guide posted in 2007) were generated largely from his research activities and thus were useful to researchers seeking to learn more about his innovative work. His personal papers were donated by his family in 2009.

It has been a busy couple of years for the collection and for related reproductive rights and health collections; the second and third most-used collections last year were created by Alan Guttmacher (guide posted in 2005), pediatrician and early leader in International Planned Parenthood, and Robert Latou Dickinson (guide revised in in 2009) founder of the National Committee on Maternal Health and a sometime ally, sometime competitor of Margaret Sanger.

What are your predictions for this year? You might want to peruse the list of online guides before you comment!

Discovery Fund Enables Research Access in Manuscript Collections

Negative 3049, Salpetriere Hospital records, H MS c30, August 11, 1899. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Making accessible our hidden collections is one of the most urgent challenges facing the Center. Through the Discovery Fund, the Center seeks to reduce the number of inaccessible and unprocessed collections by using financial gifts to create temporary processing support positions.

Harnessing 2010 Discovery Fund donations, the Center was able to transcribe and translate from French original index entries for approximately 16,800 glass plate negatives created at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, 1882-1944. Index entries, now in a Microsoft Access database, will increase access to this collection of international interest for which no descriptive information was available. The negatives are the product of the unprecedented use of medical imaging by revolutionary neurologist and psychologist J. M. (Jean Martin) Charcot and his disciples and are as important to the history of photography as to the history of medicine.

Discovery funds were applied to listing the papers of nutritionist D. Mark (David Mark) Hegsted (1952-1978), whose research demonstrated the effects of specific dietary fats and cholesterol on serum cholesterol levels. Hegsted, a founding member of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), among the first such departments in a medical or public health school in the world, was instrumental in the development of the federal “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

Ordinarily, resource constraints make it difficult to rapidly respond to researchers’ requests for access to unprocessed collections; the Discovery fund provides the flexibility we need to shift staff to the most in-demand collections at the point they are needed for research. Discovery funds made it possible to “process on demand” reproductive health giant John Rock’s recently acquired personal papers, 1915-1981. Rock, the co-inventor of the birth control pill, was the subject of a Center symposium in March 2009, when the collection of his professional records was opened to research. His personal papers, now being listed, will be available for use shortly.

Many thanks to our Discovery Fund donors. To find out how to join them, see our website.

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