Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: GA 81

E.E. Southard papers


The E.E. Southard papers, 1892-1940 (inclusive), 1905-1920 (bulk), reflect the late-career work of E.E. (Elmer Ernest) Southard (1876-1920), a neuropathologist and pathologist for the state of Massachusetts. Southard was the administrator for the first psychopathic department at the Boston State Hospital and worked with Myrtelle Canavan (1879-) and Mary Jarrett (1877-1961) to develop the field of psychiatric social work. He was also Chief Pathologist for the Massachusetts state asylum system, including the Boston and Danvers, Massachusetts hospitals. Southard also investigated the relationship between psychiatric illness and organic abnormality; the collection reflects his plans for a book on brain pathology.


  • Creation: 1892-1940 (inclusive),
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1905-1920 .


Language of Materials

Papers are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access requires advance notice. Consult Public Services for further information.

The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to consult Public Services for further information. concerning retrieval of material.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all materials in the collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting any third-party copyright holders for permission to reproduce or publish. For more information on the Center's use, publication, and reproduction policies, view our Reproductions and Use Policy.


3 cubic feet (3 records center cartons)

The E.E. Southard papers, 1892-1940 (inclusive), 1905-1920 (bulk), consist of records from the late-career work of Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920), a neuropathologist and forensic pathologist for the state of Massachusetts, and reflect Southard's interest in the development of neuropathology, as well as research in brain anatomy and general pathology. The bulk of the collection consists of manuscripts and associated research materials; subjects include neuropathology, mental disease, dementia praecox (schizophrenia), the history and development of the Boston State Hospital and its Psychopathic Department, and brain anatomy. Records include reprints, manuscript drafts, notes, poetry, glass plate negatives, and correspondence.

Also included in the collections are biographical files (mainly correspondence), assembled by Frederick P. Gay, who published a biography of Southard, The Open Mind, in 1938. Gay communicated with people, including Harvey Cushing (1869-1939), Myrtelle Canavan (1879-1953), Karl Menninger (1893-1990), and Roscoe Pound (1870-1964), who had either known, taught, or worked with Southard, and requested their recollections for use in the biography. Also included are reviews of Mind as well as some of Gay’s correspondence with potential publishers.

Papers are entirely in English.

Biographical Notes

E.E. (Elmer Ernest) Southard (1876-1920), 1893, Boston Latin School; B.A., 1897, Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts; M.D., 1901, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was an Instructor in Neuropathology at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Pathology (1904-1906), Assistant Professor in Neuropathology (1906-1909), and named to the Bullard Professorship in Neuropathology at Harvard Medical School in 1909, an appointment he held until his death in 1920. Southard served as Director of the Boston Psychopathic Department of Boston State Hospital (1912-1920); with Mary C. Jarrett (1876-1961), the Director of Social Work in the Psychopathic Department, he developed the field of psychiatric social work. His areas of research included shell shock, dementia praecox (schizophrenia), and the pathologic sources of mental illness.

Elmer Ernest Southard was born in Boston in July 1876 to Martin Southard and Olive Wentworth Knowles. He attended the Boston Latin School and Harvard College, receiving his B.A. in 1897. He moved immediately to Harvard Medical School and took his M.D. in 1901. While at Harvard, Southard studied with William James (1842-1910), one of first American psychiatric specialists. Southard took his first class in pathology in his second year of medical school; by his senior year he had committed to a long-term study of the subject. He held junior and senior internships in pathology at Boston City Hospital (now the Boston Medical Center) under Henry A. Christian (1876-1951) in 1900 and 1901. Southard received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1901; in 1902, he traveled to Europe to study medicine in Germany for six months. Upon his return, Southard received three promotions at the Hospital between 1902 and 1904, becoming the second assistant visiting pathologist in 1905.

In 1904, Southard was appointed an instructor in neuropathology at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Pathology, then under the leadership of W.T. Councilman (1854-1933). Southard was promoted to assistant professor in 1906; while still teaching at Harvard, Southard took on the post of assistant physician and pathologist to the Danvers State Hospital, replacing A.M. Barrett. He was given the Bullard Professorship in Neuropathology at Harvard Medical School in 1909; in the same year, Southard was promoted to the post of pathologist to the State Board of Insanity. In 1912, Southard was appointed director of the Psychopathic Department of the Boston State Hospital. The "Department" functioned as an independent hospital with 100 beds and a large out-patient population; however, it was technically under the supervision of the Boston State Hospital's trustees and superintendent. Southard and other members of the psychiatric medical community lobbied to have this arrangement changed as they felt it was inappropriate for the work of the department. Immediately before his death, Southard left the State Hospital and was appointed director of the Massachusetts State Psychiatric Institute; the State Hospital Psychopathic Department became an independent entity in 1920 under the direction of C. Macfie Campbell (1876-1943).

During his tenure as director, Southard worked with Mary C. Jarrett and Myrtelle Canavan (1879-) to develop the field of psychiatric social work, including training field workers to deal with patients in their homes and workplaces. Their efforts resulted in an educational program being set up at Smith College in 1918, called the Training School of Psychiatric Social Work. In 1916 in his position as director of the Psychopathic Department, Southard gave expert testimony for the prosecution in the case of Marion P. Smith, a Massachusetts heiress whose grandmother and estate conservator were attempting to have a court declare her incompetent to handle her business affairs. During World War I, Southard served with the United States Army Chemical Warfare Service, leaving the military with the rank of major. Southard served on the scientific board of directors of the Eugenics Record Office; founded in 1910, the Office was intended to be a center for the study of human heredity and a repository for genetic data. Southard also held memberships or offices in the American Medico-Psychological Association (now the American Psychiatric Association), the Boston Society of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Genetic Association, the National Epilepsy Association, the American Association of Pathologists, the Massachusetts Medical Society, and the Society of Experimental Biology. Southard's best known publications are the books Neurosyphilis (1917 with Harry C. Solomon), Shell-shock (1919), and The Kingdom of Evils; psychiatric social work presented in one hundred case histories, together with a classification of social divisions of evil (1922), which was finished and published posthumously by his co-author, Myrtelle Canavan.

In June 1906, Southard married Mabel Fletcher Austin (1871-), also a doctor and a faculty member at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts. They had three children: Anne, Ordway, and Austin. Southard died of pneumonic infection in New York City in 1920.

Series and Subseries in the Collection

  1. I. E.E. Southard Papers, undated, 1892-1935
  2. II. Collected Biographical Records about E.E. Southard, undated, 1907-1940

Related Papers in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine

Resources about E.E. Southard.

  • Bulletin of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Diseases. Boston : [unknown], 1920.
  • Canavan, Myrtelle M. Elmer Ernest Southard and his parents : a brain study. Cambridge, Mass. : University Press, 1925.
  • Gay, Frederick P. The Open Mind. Chicago : Normandie House, 1938.
  • Southard, E.E. Neurosyphilis : modern systematic diagnosis and treatment presented in one hundred and thirty-seven case histories. Boston : Leonard, 1917.
  • Southard, E.E. Shell-shock and other neuropsychiatric problems presented in five hundred and eighty-nine case histories from the War literature, 1914-1918. Boston : Leonard, 1919.
  • Southard, E.E. and Jarrett, Mary C. The kingdom of evils : psychiatric social work presented in one hundred case histories, together with a classification of social divisions of evil. New York : Macmillan, 1922.

Processing Information

Processed by Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook, 2014 April.

Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine reboxed, refoldered, and listed the collection and created a finding aid to enhance access. Original folders with information additional to the folder title were photocopied and placed in the new folder. The original folders often contain annotations in several hands; Southard’s is generally thick black ink, and Center staff believe that the smaller hand in pencil is Myrtelle Canavan’s. (Canavan worked with Southard for many years and was responsible for the posthumous publication of The Kingdom of Evils; psychiatric social work presented in one hundred case histories, together with a classification of social divisions of evil, which she and Southard had co-authored in 1922.) The material was cleaned during refoldering, although some residue may remain.

Southard, Elmer Ernest, 1876-1920. Papers, 1892-1940 (inclusive), 1905-1920 (bulk): Finding Aid
Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
Language of description

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.

10 Shattuck Street
Boston MA 02115
(617) 432-2170