Posts tagged: psychiatry

Albert Warren Stearns Papers Open for Research

By , April 25, 2018

Albert Warren Stearns

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Albert Warren Stearns papers, 1912-1959. The papers are the product of Stearns’ activities as a private practice psychiatrist, author, Dean of Tufts College Medical School, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction, and officer in the medical corps of the United States Navy. The papers include Stearns’ correspondence and patient records from his work in psychiatric private practice, records from Stearns’ tenure as Dean at Tufts, and records from Stearns’ service as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Correction. Also in the collection are evaluations and classifications of the mental health of recruits for naval service, from Stearns’ service in the United States Navy, as well as and his professional writings and research records.

Albert Warren Stearns, 1885-1959, earned his M.D. from Tufts College Medical School in 1910. He worked at Danvers State Hospital and Boston State Hospital before opening a private practice in 1913, and during the First and Second World Wars, he served in the medical corps of the United States Navy. From 1927 to 1945, Stearns was the Dean of Tufts College Medical School and Professor of Psychiatry. 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). Stearns died unexpectedly on September 24, 1959. The Stearns Research Building at the Tufts Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine was dedicated in 1963.

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

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

L. Vernon Briggs Papers Now Open

Picture of a model hospital ward from the L. Vernon Briggs Papers.

Photograph of a model hospital ward from the L. Vernon Briggs Papers.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the L. Vernon Briggs papers, 1774-1940 (inclusive), 1911-1938 (bulk) to research.

L. (Lloyd) Vernon Briggs (1863-1941), M.D., 1889, Medical College of Virginia at Richmond was a psychiatrist and medical reformer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was active in seeking changes to the laws regarding the evaluation and incarceration of the mentally ill and in suggesting reforms to the asylum, prison, hospital systems in the Commonwealth. He married Mary Tilotson Cabot in 1905; the couple had one child, Lloyd Cabot Briggs (1909-1975).

The collection reflects the work of L. Vernon Briggs  in psychiatry and medical reform, particularly in the fields of asylum conditions and the care of the mentally ill. Briggs was an active member of the medical community in Boston from the late 1880s to the late 1930s. Topics in the collection include the oversight of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts state hospital system, the administration and reform of the State Board of Insanity, Briggs’ ocean trip to Hawaii, and the care and treatment of the mentally ill including such issues as asylum inmate restraint and drug prescription.

The papers include correspondence, photographs, magazine and newspaper clippings, publications, manuscripts, blueprints, and legislation. Also included is a small number of artifacts, including quills used by the Governor’s Office for the formal signing of legislation, and botanical specimens gathered by Briggs on the West Coast.

The finding aid for the L. Vernon Briggs papers can be found here.

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

Chester Pierce Honored in Campus Fitness Challenge

By , March 3, 2017
Image courtesy of ESPN's blog, The Undefeated.

Image courtesy of ESPN’s blog, The Undefeated.

Each year EcoOpportunity, Harvard’s Longwood Campus (HLC) Green Team, hosts “Take the Stairs”–a team-based campaign to encourage and support movement throughout the Harvard community. Hundreds of members of the Harvard community register to increase the quality and quantity of their daily movement, and to track this data with the ultimate goal of “climbing” the highest peaks around the world. This year, EcoOpportunity made a unique decision to map its challenge to a peak renowned not for its height, but rather for its connection to the Harvard community: Pierce Peak, named in honor of Dr. Chester Pierce.

Dr. Chester M. Pierce (1927-2016), Harvard College Class of 1948, Harvard Medical School Class of 1952, was emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and emeritus professor of education at the Harvard School of Education. He was the first African American full professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, and practiced in the Department of Psychiatry for over 25 years. Dr. Pierce was also the Past President of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Orthopsychiatric Association, and was the founding president of the Black Psychiatrists of America. In 1970, Dr. Pierce was the first to use the term “microaggression” to describe insults and dismissals he regularly witnessed non-black Americans inflict on African Americans. He served on 22 editorial boards, and published over 180 books, articles, and reviews.

Dr. Pierce dedicated much of his time to working with organizations that helped to promote human rights, conservation, and youth education. For example, he acted as a consultant for the Children’s Television Network, the Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force, the US Arctic Research Commission, the Peace Corps, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Pierce Peak, (5,872.7 ft, or 1,790 m) is located in Antarctica two miles south of Sullivan Peaks at the northeastern edge of Mackin Table in the Patuxent Range, Pensacola Mountains (coordinates: 84°0’52”S 63°0’09″W). In 1968, the peak was named in honor of Dr. Pierce who, with Jay T. Shurley, studied the psychophysiology of men while asleep and awake–both before, during, and after two sojourns at the South Pole Station, during the winters of 1963 and 1966. The mountains surrounding Pierce Peak were also named in honor of Dr. Pierce’s team-members and co-authors, including Shurley Ridge, Brooks Nunatak, and Natani Nunatak.

Joan Ilacqua, Archivist for Women in Medicine at the Center for the History of Medicine, conducted an oral history with Dr. Pierce in 2015 as part of Equal Access: Oral Histories of Diversity and Inclusion at Harvard Medical School. Topics discussed included attending Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, specializing in psychiatry, Navy service, researching in Antarctica, and being the first President of the Black Psychiatrists of America. To listen, or to read a transcript of the interview, visit OnView.

Registration for Take the Stairs runs from March 1st through 15th, and is open to any Harvard affiliate with a HarvardKey. Visit the website to learn more.

Center Opens Collections Related to Physicians of Social Conscience

By , June 17, 2015
Jonathan Beckwith.

Jonathan Beckwith, undated. Harvard Medical School Office of Public Affairs, M-AD06. Publication Visual Resource Records, Series 00297. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that three collections related to physicians and social activism are now open to research, as part of the Center’s Access to Activism Project. These collections are the records of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (founded 1980), and the papers of Jonathan R. Beckwith (born 1935) and Sanford Gifford (1918-2013).

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is an association of national medical organizations that seek to educate the international community of the dangers of nuclear war and weaponry.  Founded in 1980 by physicians from the United States (Herbert L. Abrams, Eric Chivian, Bernard Lown, and James E. Muller) and Soviet Union (Evgueni Chazov, Leonid A. Ilyin, and Mikhail Kuzin), the organization was awarded the 1984 UNESCO Peace Education Prize and the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.  The records, 1957-1989 (inclusive), 1980-1987 (bulk), include administrative records, international congress records, petition campaign records, writings and publications, and audiovisual recordings of meetings and lectures, among other records.

Jonathan R. Beckwith is a microbiologist and geneticist at Harvard Medical School whose focus is on bacterial genetics; he is credited with isolating the first gene from a bacterial chromosome in 1969 with James Shapiro (born 1943) and Lawrence J. Eron (born 1944). He has advocated throughout his career for social responsibility in scientific and genetic research, and has also protested genetic, racial, and gender discrimination in science and society.  The papers, 1933-2011 (inclusive), 1965-2004 (bulk), include: Beckwith’s Harvard Medical School teaching and administrative records; research, lectures, and publications concerning the lac operon, disulfide bonds, membrane proteins, and other areas of bacterial genetics and microbiology; and administrative records of Science for the People and various other activist groups.

Finally, Sanford Gifford was a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, focusing on the psychiatry of twins, sleep deprivation, stress, psychophysiology, and the history of psychoanalysis, among other topics.  He was also a strong advocate against the Vietnam War, and was an early member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Medical Aid for Indochina.  The papers, 1895-2013 (inclusive), 1950-2000 (bulk), include: Gifford’s psychiatric research records, lectures, and publications; oral histories and publications on the history of psychoanalysis; professional appointments records; and administrative and conference records for various professional and activist organizations.

The project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant by the Harvard University Libraries, sought to increase visibility and access to collections created by physicians of social conscience in order to reach a broad audience across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  For more information on the project and these collections, please contact Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services.

This post was updated to correct a previous statement regarding the founding and founders of the organization, 2018 April 03.

Sanford Gifford Papers Processing has Commenced, as part of Access to Activism Project

By , April 22, 2015
Sanford Gifford, 1962.

Sanford Gifford, 1962. Portrait Collection. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

After treating solders in World War II with what would later be labeled post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Sanford R. Gifford became a strong anti-war advocate, becoming especially active during and after the Vietnam War.  His personal and professional papers are one of numerous collections created by activist physicians held by the Center.  We are pleased to announce that processing of the Sanford R. Gifford papers, 1956-1986 (inclusive), has commenced, as part of the Center’s Access to Activism project.

Gifford (1918-2013) was Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, Senior Associate in Medicine (Psychiatry) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, Instructor at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and Staff Psychiatrist at the VA Hospital, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.  His psychiatric research focused primarily on psychological development and psychiatric disorders in twins, psychosomatic disorders, psychology of sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis.  He served as Librarian and Director of the Library and Archives for the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and chaired the History and Archives Committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  He also served on the editorial boards of both Medical Heritage and the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  As a social activist, Gifford was an early member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and an organizer of Medical Aid to Indochina.  He published numerous scientific papers, as well as two books: Edward Bibring Photographs the Psychoanalysts of his Time, 1932-1938 (2005), edited with Daniel Jacobs and Vivien Goldman; and The Emmanuel Movement: The Origins of Group Treatment and the Assault on Lay-Psychotherapy, 1904-1929 (1997).  The papers are the product of Gifford’s professional, research, publishing, and activist activities, and include his research records, professional appointments records, public speaking records, committee and membership records for professional and activist organizations, correspondence, writings and publications, personal diaries, and collected publications.  They are expected to be open to research in 2015.

The Access to Activism project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries.  In addition to the Sanford Gifford papers, the project will also open the collections of other physicians of social conscience, including: the Jonathan Beckwith papers, 1933-2011 (inclusive), 1965-2004 (bulk); and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War records, 1957-1989 (inclusive), 1980-1987 (bulk).  For more information on the project, please contact Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services.

Southard in the Spotlight

By , January 26, 2015

The E.E. (Elmer Ernest) Southard papers were opened to researchers late in 2014. Southard (1876-1920) worked as a neuropathologist and pathologist for the state of Massachusetts. He was the administrator for the first psychopathic department at the Boston State Hospital and worked with Myrtelle Canavan and Mary Jarrett to create the field of psychiatric social work. Southard was also deeply interested in the relationship between psychiatric illness and organic abnormality.

Detail of Southard's handwriting.

Detail of a handwritten note in the collection.

The bulk of the collection consists of files reflecting planned work for a book on psychiatric illness and organic abnormality. Southard was a proponent of the terminological change from ‘dementia praecox’ to ‘schizophrenia’ and some of that work is reflected in the papers. There is also material collected by Frederick P. Gay who wrote a posthumous biography of Southard, The Open Mind. Gay collected recollections of Southard from a wide range of people including Harvey Cushing, Myrtelle Canavan, Karl Menninger, and Roscoe Pound as well as Southard family members.

The collection attracted the attention of Mary Commisso, a writer with the Harvard Medical School Office of Communications. She arranged for a one-to-one session with the processor of the collection and, just before the holiday break, the News published her piece on the Southard collection. Commisso’s curiosity had been piqued by the blog post Massachusetts Heiress on Trial! and was interested to know more about Southard’s role in psychiatric history. Her piece can be found here: Blazing a Trail.

Erich Lindemann Papers Open to Research

By , March 26, 2014
Erich Lindemann

Erich Lindemann, circa 1960-1969, Portrait Collection, From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Erich Lindemann papers are now open to research.  Lindemann (1900-1974) was Chief of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, Medical Director of the Wellesley Human Relations Service, Massachusetts, and Distinguished Visiting Professor in Clinical and Social Psychiatry at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.

Lindemann is known for his preventive intervention work with crisis patients and subjects of loss and bereavement.  His work with burn victims of the Cocoanut Grove fire of 1942 inspired his interest in the psychiatric and physiological effects of crisis, grief, and loss.  He later directed a study of the effects of loss and disruption on the displaced families of Boston’s West End redevelopment, the results of which later informed urban redevelopment projects across the country.  Lindemann is also recognized as a pioneer in the field of community mental health, advocating for collaboration between psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, social workers, clergymen, teachers, and other community social service providers in the preventive therapy of crisis victims.  As a part of these efforts, he established a community mental health training program for social service providers at Massachusetts General Hospital, helped found the nation’s first community mental health agency in 1948 (the Wellesley Human Relations Service), and chaired multiple professional and national committees related to community mental health and preventive psychiatry.

The papers are the product of Lindemann’s professional, research, teaching, and publishing activities throughout the course of his career.  The bulk of the collection contains administrative, research, and teaching records generated during his tenure at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, the Wellesley Human Relations Service,  and Massachusetts General Hospital.  The collection also contains: personal and professional correspondence; research data and administrative records of the West End Research Project; correspondence and records related to Lindemann’s service in professional organizations and committees; his writings and publications; and collected publications related to psychiatry and mental health.  Papers also include over 350 audio and audio-visual recordings of lectures by Lindemann and his colleagues, professional conferences, patient consultations, and meetings of the Wellesley Human Relations Service and of the West End Research project.

Processing of the collection was a part of the Private Practices, Public Health: Privacy Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections project, funded by a Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, through the Council on Library Resources (CLIR).  The project is a collaborative effort between the Center and the Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, on behalf of the Medical Heritage Library, to open public health collections previously closed to research, and to determine best practices for providing access to collections with protected health information and other types of restricted records.

For more information on Lindemann and his collection, please view the online finding aid.

Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine call for Autumn 2014 speakers

By , January 13, 2014

We would like your suggestions of topics and speakers for the Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine in the fall of 2014.

The Colloquium is sponsored by the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the McLean Hospital Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education.  It offers an opportunity for researchers in the history of psychiatry, medicine, and science to present informally, including work in progress, to a small group of clinicians, researchers, and others interested in the historical context of their work. We are unable to fund an honorarium or travel epenses.  We do offer an informal setting where work in progress can be offered and receive constructive contributions, rather than the formal presentation of a polished paper.  The discussion is usually lively and the audience appreciative. A list of past speakers and topics is attached for perspective.

The Colloquium is usually held from 4:00 to 5:30 PM on the third Thursday of each month in the fall at the Harvard Medical School. It consists of 45-60 minute presentation followed by 30-45 minutes of discussion.

If you have suggestions regarding speakers and topics you think would be interesting for the Colloquium or if you are interested in presenting in the Colloquium, please contact David G. Satin, M.D., Director, Colloquium on the History of Psychiatry and Medicine,

New Acquisitions: Abraham Myerson Papers

By , January 10, 2014
A photograph of pathologists at the Psychopathic Department of the Boston State Hospital. From left to right: Harry Solomon, Myrtelle Canavan, Abraham Myerson, Douglas Thom, Elmer Southard, Herbert Thompson, Lawson Lowrey, and William Rappleye.

A photograph of pathologists at the Psychopathic Department of the Boston State Hospital. From left to right: Harry Solomon, Myrtelle Canavan, Abraham Myerson, Douglas Thom, Elmer Southard, Herbert Thompson, Lawson Lowrey, and William Rappleye.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal and professional papers of Abraham Myerson, M.D. (1881-1948). Myerson, a neurologist, psychiatrist, clinician, pathologist, and researcher, believed in the interdependence of mind and body and a physiological approach in psychiatry and neurology. He had a special interest in the heredity of psychiatric and neurologic disease.

During the first decades of the 20th century, the eugenics movement became prominent and widely supported by lay and professional groups. Myerson was an opponent of the involuntary sterilization of feeble-minded and mentally ill patients. While at Taunton State Hospital, he conducted a study and published his findings in The Inheritance of Mental Disease (1925), which showed that only ten percent of inpatients had a relative who had been confined to the hospital since its opening in 1854. Myerson believed that while there could be a heredity factor involved, social environment also played a major role.

Among his many professional roles, Myerson served as Massachusetts state forensic examiner for eight years. He interviewed Sacco and Vanzetti and later testified at their trial.

The collection contains correspondence with colleagues, peers, and the general public on many topics, including the need and possible uses for Benzedrine, notes of his conversations with Sacco, unpublished writings, and photographs. A subseries contains the inventory of state resources provided for the mentally ill and retarded in the United States compiled by Dr. Harry Best, which later resulted in a publication, and related correspondence with Best.

Born in Lithuania, the son of a schoolteacher, Myerson came to the United States at age five. In 1892, the family moved to Boston, Massachusetts where Myerson attended the Boston public schools. He later attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and Tufts Medical School; he graduated from the latter in 1908. Myerson held several appointments in Boston-area hospitals and medical schools in neurology, neuropathology, pathology, and clinical psychiatry, including working with Harvard Medical School neuropathologist Elmer E. Southard, joining the first group of residents (with Myrtelle Canavan and Harry Solomon) at the newly opened Boston Psychopathic Hospital (1912), serving as clinical director and pathologist at Taunton State Hospital (1913-1917) and as director of research at Boston State Hospital (1927-1940). He was appointed Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School (1935-1940) and Chair of the Department of Neurology at Tufts Medical School (1921-1940). Myerson was chief of the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Beth Israel Hospital, from 1942 to 1945.

Myerson was active in many professional organizations: the American Psychiatric Association (representative to the National Research Council), the American Neurological Association, the Greater Boston Medical Society, the American Psychopathological Society (president, 1938-1939), the Advisory Council for Research in nervous and mental disease for the U.S. Public Health Service, and director of the Mental Hygiene Society. He published ten books, all of which can be found in HOLLIS, and numerous scholarly research articles.




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