Posts tagged: Medical illustration

Staff Finds: Netter’s Clinical Symposia Illustrations and Other Publications and Pamphlets

By , May 10, 2017
Clinical Symposia 21, no. 1 (January-March 1969). Topics: “The Surgical Treatment of Myocardial Ischemia” and “Surgical Treatment of Cardiac Valvular Disease.” H MS c477

Clinical Symposia 21, no. 1 (January-March 1969). Topics: “The Surgical Treatment of Myocardial Ischemia” and “Surgical Treatment of Cardiac Valvular Disease.” H MS c477. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the papers of Marie C. McCormick (born 1946), Center staff found a collection of interesting pamphlets and publications on a range of topics. McCormick collected these materials as reference in her professional and research activities. Among those best represented in the collection are issues of the journal Clinical Symposia. The journal was published from 1948 to 1999 by Ciba Pharmaceutical Products, Inc. More than 250 issues of Clinical Symposia were illustrated by Frank Netter, M.D.; many of those illustrations were compiled into the 13 volume The CIBA Collection of Medical Illustrations (1953). Even after he retired in the early 1970s, Netter continued to produce illustrations at the astonishing rate of a new image every several days. In 1989, two years before he passed away at the age of 85, Netter published the Atlas of Human Anatomy, which was widely adopted at American medical schools and across the world. In all, Netter painted more than 4,000 medical illustrations during his lifetime (Hansen, 482-483).

Other publications collected by McCormick demonstrate the types of health and parenting advice that were distributed to parents in the late 20th century. They include a 1984 booklet entitled “Childhood Vaccination: Current Controversies,” a 1979 pamphlet entitled “What Parents Should Know about Shoes, Twisted or Bent Legs, and Flatfeet in Children,” which has easy-to-understand diagrams, and an undated booklet entitled “What Are the Facts about Genetic Disease?” which includes charts explaining how dominant, X-linked, and recessive inheritance works.

Also of interest is the graphic design on the covers of pamphlets. “Regional Emergency Medical Communications Systems” (1978) draws the eye with an interesting stylization of a warning light, “The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” (1976) implies a harrowing situation, and “Cleaning Products and Their Accidental Exposure” (1989) subtly connects women with housework through dress-like bottle designs.

These examples and more can be found in the Marie C. McCormick papers, 1956-2016 (inclusive), 1968-2009 (bulk), which are expected to be open to research in spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.


John T. Hansen. “Frank H. Netter, M.D. (1906-1991): The Artist and His Legacy.” Clinical Anatomy 19 (2006): 481-486.

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