Early deans' records, 1828-1904 (inclusive), 1869-1874 (bulk), 1828-1904 (inclusive), bulk: 1869-1874 (bulk)
Scope and Content
Subgroup consists of the records of the early deans of Harvard Medical School during the years 1828-1904. Records cheifly represent the tenure of Dean Calvin Ellis (1869-1883). Records produced from the tenures of the following deans are also included: Walter Channing (1826-1847), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1847-1853), John Barnard Swett Jackson (1853-1855), David Humphreys Storer (1855-1864), George Cheyne Shattuck (1864-1869), Henry Pickering Bowditch (1883-1893), and William Lambert Richardson (1893-1907).
The records are the product of administrative activities of the Deans of Harvard Medical School and include correspondence, petitions, reports, financial records, and certificates and chronicles education, administration, and committee activities at Harvard Medical School, as well as the interactions of the Medical School with Harvard University. Correspondence regarding the reorganization of education at the Medical School, as directed by Harvard University President Charles Eliot, is contained in the collection, as well as correspondence and petitions relating to the admission of women and blacks. In particular, the collection contains recommendations written on behalf on Martin Delany, the first black student to be admitted to the Medical School, who was later dismissed after protests from white students. The collection also contains correspondence from women requesting to be admitted to lectures at Harvard Medical School and correspondence from the Harvard Corporation to the Medical Faculty denying the request.
The record group is arranged in three series: Series I Executive Administrative Files (Series 00154), Series II Committee Records, and Series III Intra-Institutional Relations Records. Oversized items are housed in boxes 6, 7, and 8.
- 1828-1904 (inclusive)
- Majority of material found within 1869-1874
Language of Materials
Records are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
Records are open for research; there are no restrictions on this record group. Access required advanced notice; please contact Public Services for further information.
Extent2.55 cubic feet (4 document boxes, 1 half document box, 1 half legal document box, and 2 flat oversized boxes)
Biographical note: Walter Channing
Walter Channing (1786-1876) was Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1826 to 1847. An obstetrician, Channing received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1809. At Harvard Medical School Channing was a Lecturer, before being appointed the first Professor of Midwifery and Medical Jurisprudence in 1815. In 1847 the Medical School, known as the Massachusetts Medical College of Harvard University from 1816 to 1846, relocated to North Grove Street, next to Massachusetts General Hospital, from its previous location on Mason Street. Channing was a founder of the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery and the Boston Lying-In Hospital. He was a strong advocate of the use of anesthesia during childbirth.
Biographical note: Oliver Wendell Holmes
A noted literary figure, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) served as Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1847 to 1853. Holmes received his A.B. from Harvard in 1829 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1836. At the Medical School Holmes was the Parkman Professor of Anatomy and Physiology and was one of the first educators to introduce microscopy to medical education. As Dean, Holmes and the faculty debated admitting women and blacks to Harvard Medical School. Three black men were admitted in 1850, though they were later dismissed after protests from white students. The first black student did not graduate from Harvard Medical School until 1869, and not until 1945 were women admitted on an equal basis with men. In 1843 Holmes wrote "The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever," arguing that the fever, contracted by women during childbirth, was passed from patient to patient by their doctors and nurses. He was a founder of the Atlantic Monthly journal as well as the author of the poem "Old Ironsides," which rallied public support for the preservation of the Navy ship USS Constitution.
Biographical note: John Barnard Swett Jackson
John Barnard Swett Jackson (1806-1879) received his B.A. from Harvard in 1825 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1829. He served as Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1853 to 1855, as the first Professor of Pathological Anatomy (1847-1854) in the new Pathological Anatomy Department, and as the Shattuck Professor of Morbid Anatomy (1854-1879). As Dean, he proposed that M.D. candidates pass an examination based on their course of study. Jackson, interested in the study and description of the gross pathologic anatomy of diseased organs, was the first curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard Medical School and wrote A Descriptive Catalogue of the Warren Anatomical Museum in 1870. He also served as curator for the museum of the Boston Society for Medical Improvement.
Biographical note: David Humphreys Storer
David Humphreys Storer (1804-1891) served as Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1855 to 1864 and also as the Chair of Obstetrics and Medical Jurisprudence from 1854 to 1868. He received his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in 1822 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1825. Storer, a visiting physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (1849-1858) and the Boston Lying-In Hospital (1854-1868), lectured against the procedure of induced abortions in his teachings. He also served as President of the American Medical Association (1866-1867), was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. In addition, Storer was a naturalist and member of the Boston Society of Natural History.
Biographical note: George Cheyne Shattuck
Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1864 to 1869, George Cheyne Shattuck (1813-1893) also served as Professor of Clinical Medicine and later as Hersey Professor of the Theory and Practice of Physic. Shattuck received his A.B. from Harvard in 1831 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1835. From 1838 to 1839, Shattuck worked in Paris with the French Pathologist Charles Louis, defining the difference between typhus and typhoid fever. He was a visiting physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (1849-1885), President of the Massachusetts Medical Society (1872-1873), and a founder of the Boston Medical Library.
Biographical note: Calvin Ellis
Calvin Ellis (1826-1883) earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1850 and served as Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1869 to 1883. Prior to his tenure as Dean, he served as Assistant Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine (1863-1865), Adjunct Professor of Clinical Medicine (1865-1867) and Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine (1867-1883). During Ellis' tenure as Dean, several reforms were implemented to medical education at Harvard Medical School, as directed by Harvard President Charles Eliot, including a three-year course sequence and required examinations in each department. These changes were implemented at the start of the fall term in 1871. Ellis also oversaw the planning for the 1883 move of the Medical School from its North Grove Street location to facilities on Boylston Street in Copley Square in Boston, Mass. He was an admitting physician, pathologist, and visiting physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Biographical note: Henry Pickering Bowditch
Henry Pickering Bowditch (1840-1911) was the Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1883 to 1893. He received his A.B. from Harvard in 1861 and served with Massachusetts cavalry units during the Civil War. Bowditch returned to Boston to earn his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1868. While at Harvard Medical School, Bowditch was also Assistant Professor of Physiology, Professor of Physiology, and the first George Higginson Professor of Physiology in 1902. He was granted Emeritus status in 1906. During Bowditch's tenure as Dean the Medical School enrollment and faculty increased and Harvard Medical School became the first American medical school to offer courses in pathology and bacteriology. A four-year course of study was also adopted during Bowditch's term. Bowditch's medical career focused on the research side of medicine and he was a defender of animal experimentation. He was also one of the founders of the American Physiological Society and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Biographical note: William Lambert Richardson
William Lambert Richardson (1842-1932) earned his A.B. from Harvard in 1864 and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1867. He served as Dean of Harvard Medical School from 1893 to 1907 and during his tenure advanced entrance examinations were introduced. In 1906 the Medical School moved from its location on Boylston Street to the Quadrangle on Longwood Avenue. While at Harvard Medical School Richardson also served as Instructor in Obstetrics (1871-1882), Assistant Professor of Obstetrics (1882-1886), and Professor of Obstetrics (1885-1907). He was granted Emeritus status in 1907. Richardson practiced medicine at the Boston Dispensary, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Children's Hospital. He was also associated with the Boston Lying-In Hospital for over 50 years, helping to revive and enlarge the institution, retiring as president in 1922. Richardson was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and a surgeon in the First Corps of Cadets, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, from 1870 to 1905.
- Executive Administrative Files, 1828-1901, undated (bulk 1868-1874)
- Committee Files, 1856-1904, undated
- Intra-Institutional Relations Records, 1854-1872 (bulk 1869-1870)
Resources on the History of Harvard Medical School
- Beecher, Henry K. and Mark D. Altschule.Medicine at Harvard: The First Three Hundred Years . (Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1977).
- Harrington, Thomas F. The Harvard Medical School: A History, Narrative and Documentary, 1782-1905.(New York: Lewis Publishing Company, 1905).
Processed by Bryan Sutherland, May 2008.
Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the records and created a finding aid to improve access to the collection. To enhance preservation, processing staff re-housed the collection and, where necessary, photocopied documents onto acid-free paper.
- From the Record Group: Harvard Medical School. Office of the Dean (Organization)
Part of the Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine) Repository
The Center for the History of Medicine in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine is one of the world's leading resources for the study of the history of health and medicine. Our mission is to enable the history of medicine and public health to inform healthcare, the health sciences, and the societies in which they are embedded.
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