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SERIES Identifier: WAM001, c20197

Richardson, W. L. (William Lambert), 1842-1932. Collection of gynecological and obstetrical instrumentation, 1860-1920

Scope and Contents

Consists of obstetrical and gynecological instrumentation formerly belonging to W. L (William Lambert) Richardson.


  • 1860-1920

Language of Materials

Object labels, inscriptions, etc. are primarily in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Warren Anatomical Museum objects are available for research access. Access is premised on the availability of space and staff to facilitate use. Contact Public Services for the Warren Anatomical Museum for more information.


25 objects

Biographical / Historical

William Lambert Richardson (1842-1932), A.B., 1864, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts; A.M. and M.D., 1867, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, practiced medicine with a specialty in obstetrics from 1868 to 1922, taught Obstetrics at Harvard Medical School from 1871 to 1907, and re-opened the Boston Lying-In Hospital in 1873.

William Lambert Richardson was born in Boston on September 6, 1842, to Jeffrey Richardson (1789-1879) and Julia Lambert (Brackett) Richardson (1812-1886). He graduated with an A.B. from Harvard College in 1864 and began immediately at Harvard Medical School. After graduating with an A.M. and M.D. in 1867, he continued his education in Vienna and Dublin. Upon his return to Boston in 1868 he began to practice medicine with a focus on obstetrics. He worked at many of the major hospitals around the city, including the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Children's Hospital, and the Boston Dispensary. In 1871 he became an instructor in Obstetrics at Harvard Medical School. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1882 and full Professor in 1886. He served as Dean of the Medical School from 1893-1899, and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1899 until his retirement in 1907.

Richardson is best known for his association with the Boston Lying-In Hospital. In 1873, Richardson felt that Boston required a maternity hospital, and revived the Boston Lying-In Hospital. The institution was located in the South End. It had been incorporated as a small maternity hospital in 1832 but closed due to a lack of support in 1857. The need for maternity care was evident as soon as the hospital re-opened its doors, and the number of patients continually increased. The building was remodeled and enlarged over time under Richardson's direction. A training school for nurses was opened in 1888. In 1922, the hospital was moved to a new location on Longwood Avenue, very close to the Harvard Medical School. Richardson retired the same year. During his tenure with the hospital, 75,000 infants were delivered under its care and 291 physicians were trained in Obstetrics.

Richardson was a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard from 1905 to 1915. He was a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of the American Gynecological Society. He was a member of the American Public Health Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society. Richardson also served for thirty years as treasurer of the Benevolent Society, an organization that assisted physicians and their families who were struggling financially. He was made Professor Emeritus at Harvard Medical School when he resigned in 1907, and President Emeritus of the Boston Lying-In Hospital in 1922. Upon his death, he endowed a Professorship of Obstetrics at Harvard Medical School.

Richardson married Olivia Atchison (1843-1890), in Portland in 1867. He died on October 20, 1932, at his home in Back Bay.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by W. L. Richardson on November 23, 1923 (Acc. #2020-073-W) and by the Boston Lying-In Hospital on December 13, 1933 (M3508-W).

Processing Information

These objects were processed as part of the Warren Anatomical Museum's 2019 LEAN project "Maximizing Cataloging Output for the Warren Anatomical Museum Instrumentation Backlog Through Minimal Processing."


Repository Details

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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