Monday, March 30, 2020

National Doctors Day

Today is National Doctor's Day, and if there is a time that everyone should be thankful that we have doctors in our lives, this is it. 
From our beginning in 1799, when the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland was organized to prevent quackery and pretenders to the medical arts, to the current COVID-19 pandemic, physicians and surgeons have been the helpers at the front lines of the battle. 
Please take a moment to thank a doctor today, when we need them now, more than ever. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

John T. King, MD

I continue to find new pieces and great stories every time I explore our offices! I was up in Marcia's old apartment with some contractors, and we were moving some things. There, up against the wall was a huge (30x30 inches) bronze in a wooden frame. 
Obviously, I didn't try to bring it back downstairs for study, but snapped some pictures of it to check later. 

Luckily, the name of the sitter is right there and so there was no question as to who it was. John T. King, MD. He's listed in the Centennial book, so that was a start to my research.
Most unfortunately, John King is a pretty common name, and the year King died, another man with the exact same name, had bilked a number of people out of large sums of money, and was on trial. That filled most of the newspapers in the early months of 1924. 

But I kept digging and found King's obituary in December of 1924.
There is no mention of his involvement at MedChi, which must have been significant for him to have been honored with a large bronze plaque.

There are holes in each of the corners of the plaque, which leads me to believe that is had been hanging someplace in the building. We do have a number of other bronzes around the property. And as I mentioned in that post, I figured that there were bronzes that I hadn't found yet... and there were!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Women, Employment, and Adversity

I had the opportunity to speak with a group from the University of Baltimore on the topic of Women, Employment & Adversity. As my subject, I chose Marcia Noyes.
Marcia Crocker Noyes was the librarian here at MedChi. She arrived here for a short visit in 1896, after graduating from Hunter College in New York, and on a visit to her sister who worked at the Pratt Library.

She decided to stay for a while to live with her sister, who got her a job at the Pratt. Marcia worked cataloging books and caught the attention of the head of the Pratt who recommended her to his friend, Dr. William Osler who was looking to hire a librarian.

Dr. Osler was a charismatic physician but he could be very intimidating on first glance. He had arrived in Baltimore in 1888 to help establish the medical school at Johns Hopkins and was now the President of the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, where we are now.
Marcia was 27 years old, and although she knew libraries, she had no background in medicine. But she was willing to learn, and to move into the building where the Faculty was located, just a few blocks from here. Her job as the librarian required her to be on call 24/7.

A physician could call at any hour of the day or night and request a book. Perhaps his patient’s eye had fallen out, and he needed to understand how to put it back in. He would call Marcia and request the book, she would go into the library and find it. Soon after, the physician would arrive, read through the book and be on his way. She was our early version of Google.
Soon after Marcia started work as the librarian, her duties began to expand. This was mainly because she was the type of person who would see something that needed to be done, and then she’d do it. Her role gradually became what she wanted it to become.

Miss Noyes had a lot to overcome to be successful at her position. While she had Dr. Osler in her corner, she was a young woman with no medical background. Close to 100% of the members of the Faculty were men, and older, well-educated ones at that.  Some of the physicians, especially the elder ones, viewed her with disdain. But she was a quick learner, and attended nearly every one of the Faculty’s events, learning the names of the members, and asking the wealthier ones for their financial assistance.
In 1904, when the Faculty re-organized to fit in with the American Medical Association’s guidelines for medical societies, Marcia became the Executive Secretary. And she basically did all of this by herself. She had one helper, a man from Haiti who was called Mr. Caution, and he was the custodian/porter/man of all trades. She also was able to hire two of her friends at the grand sum of $.25 per hour to help in the evenings. Her salary was $200/year, but she also had the use of an apartment on the premises.
She was in charge of every aspect of the organization, in addition to other activities she participated in. For example, along with Dr. Osler and two other librarians, she founded the Medical Library Association in 1898. This organization is still vibrant and active today, and its highest award is named after Marcia. In addition, she took off for the summers, something which was common at the time, and ran a summer camp for girls in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.
Of course, you might ask how she got there, and the answer is by car! By the mid 1910’s, Marcia had purchased a little car, called a Doctor’s Coupe.
Driving licenses were only introduced in 1910, but women were in the vast minority at that time. They didn’t even get to vote until 1920! In the pictures of her car, Marcia calls her the Gray Lady and explains that her initials are on the door.

In 1909, it became apparent that the Faculty had outgrown their building and Marcia was tasked with being basically the project manager for the new building, where we are now. This was very unusual for a woman, and there are contemporaneous notes that indicate that she was working with the architects on the building’s design. And since she would be living here, she wanted her apartment to be exactly the way she wanted it.
The building was completed in less than a year, and Marcia’s close friend, Dr. William Osler, who was now living in England and had been knighted by the King, came back to Baltimore to help dedicate it and attend a whirl of parties. Over the next ten years, she traveled on an ocean liner to visit Sir William and his wife, Lady Grace Osler in Oxford, several times.

Over the next years, Marcia continued to grow and expand the membership at the Faculty. She worked with members on numerous initiatives including persuading the legislature to adopt a state-wide medical examiner’s office, rather than the more common county coroner one. She helped facilitate the quarterly House of Delegates meetings held in the far reaches of the state. She solicited donations from members and used them to buy more books for the library, which at its peak, numbered more than 65,000 books. Marcia also created a museum at the Faculty building, securing donations of antique and rare medical instruments, as well as a number of the valuable paintings which are now in our collection.
Marcia was beloved by everyone who worked for her. She was unassuming and light-hearted, and gave her assistants the credit when things went right and took the blame when they went wrong. When she retired, the newest employee had been working for her for 14 years, and Mr. Caution whom she hired upon her arrival in 1896, outlasted her at the Faculty by three years.
For the first 70 years of its existence, the library led an uncertain life, with it closing for months at a time, having only outdated and mildewed books, and keeping the books in a complete disorder. By the time she retired after 50 years, there was more than $90,000 in the bank, and the medical library was one of the best in the country. It held the medical journals from every state and every year, as well as numerous rare and valuable books.
In 1934, Marcia was elected as the first non-medical president of the Medical Library Association. For many years, she had organized their book exchange program, as well as editing their quarterly journal.
When Marcia retired in 1946, she planned to write the history of the Medical Library Association but she was in ill-health and was not able to. The members planned a big party for her retirement in November, but when her health continued to decline, they moved it forward to April.

We do not know the date on which Marcia was born, probably sometime in December of 1869, but we do know that she died on November 27, 1946. She wanted to have her funeral at home. Here at the Faculty, which was literally, her home. So, for the first time in its 116 year history, a funeral was held at the Faculty for its beloved Marcia Crocker Noyes.
At her funeral, one of her close friends, the physician Dr. J. Albert Chatard said of her…
Miss Noyes created a created a reality of the hopes and dreams Dr. Osler formulated while he was at Hopkins… On this foundation, she worked constantly to create an atmosphere both effective and genial, so that people would like to come to the building… and would feel that interesting and important things were going on under its roof.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Charles Wiesenthal & The Original Medical Society

Before the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland was founded in 1799, there was actually a previous medical society, but it didn't last long. 

In 1785, Dr. Charles F. Wiesenthal, Dr. Elisha John Hall of Frederick, and other physicians on the Western Shore gathered to discuss medical reform and the prevalence of quackery in the State. A plan was outlined to form a society, but rejected because of "present circumstances."
But Dr. Wiesenthal petitioned the state to create an early board of three physicians whose duty would be to examine and license all applicants. Fees paid would be used to create a library and later, perhaps, a medical college.

Dr. Wiesenthal had already established a small medical college, operated out of his home on Fayette, east of Gay Street. The "school" was a two-story building, about 70x20 feet, and had the materials to conduct dissections. However, that presented a problem when students from the school were given a corpse who arrived by boat. Even though the body was that of a murderer, the local populace was up in arms, and didn't think that the body should be dissected, so they "kidnapped" it.

Physicians in Baltimore were already loosely organized, and Dr. Wiesenthal had been elected President in 1788. They wanted to present a new law to the legislature that all physicians were to submit to examination and licensure. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of objection to this proposal. But before  much more could happen, Dr. Wiesenthal died in 1789. 

Soon afterward, Dr. Wiesenthal's son, Andrew, returned home from London where he had been studying medicine, and was ready to take over what his father had started.

But by the spring of 1790, the Medical Society was riven with dissatisfaction and disaster, and soon was dissolved. Andrew continued with the medical school, and a course of classes was announced for 1790-91, but soon after, the school met the same fate as the society, and probably for the same reasons. However, Andrew continued with lectures for private students until his death in 1798. 

The seeds for a medical society had been sown, and it would only be another year before the organization of physicians from each county in Maryland came together, and the legislature passed the bill creating our current organization.

Sadly, there are no contemporary documents or letters regarding the first medical society, save a medical diary and notebook from Professor Nathaniel Potter, one of the original faculty members at the medical college established in 1807, now the University of Maryland's School of Medicine.
All of this stems from an article that was published in Vereinsnachrichten, the newsletter of the German Society in Baltimore (Issue 116, January 2020), which was kindly given to me by the historian, Wayne Schaumberg. 

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

National Women Physicians Day

Oops! I forgot to post this last week. But regardless, we celebrate all of our Women Physicians every day!

Unfortunately, we are not exactly certain who our first woman member was, but in 1882, the Faculty changed its by-laws to read "members" instead of "gentlemen." By that time, women and African Americans were attending medical school and wanted to join their fellow physicians at the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. 

In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the United States' first licensed woman physician after having been famously allowed to attend medical school as a joke. February 3 is National Women Physicians Day, to honor the birthday of Dr. Blackwell. 

Although admitting women was a requirement to get the funding to open Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the University of Maryland's School of Medicine only admitted women in 1919

However, the Women's Medical College existed at the time in Baltimore and was solely for women. 
 One of the most famous early woman physicians, at least in Baltimore, is the art collector, Claribel Cone.
Gertrude Stein, who attended Johns Hopkins, never actually graduated, and she and Sir William Osler were mortal enemies. 

We know that women are known for "getting it done" and this Eastern Shore physician took to her horse to see patients during the fuel crisis of the early 1970's. 

We are thankful for all of our physician members who are women (and the men, too!).

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

It's Our Birthday!

Seriously, I don't think we look a day over 200!
The Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland
Founded January 20, 1799.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Isaac Trimble's House at 8 W. Madison Street

Isaac Ridgeway Trimble, MD, was an energetic young physician in Baltimore at the turn of the 19th/20th century. He had everything: good looks, talent as a physician, enough money and a gorgeous house. But, sadly, he didn't have a long life, dying in his 40s from blood poisoning from a cut during surgery.
Recently, someone sent me some interior images of the most beautiful flat in Mount Vernon. I fell in love with it, and went to see it, with the slight possibility of buying it. When I did a little research, I found that the house had belonged to Dr. Trimble in the early 1900's. 

Mrs. I. R. Trimble purchased the house in September of 1900. By May of 1901, the Trimbles were making extensive improvements to No. 8 West Madison, as noted in this May 1901 newspaper article.
And what improvements he made! The most interesting feature, and the one we couldn't figure out when we saw the space (before I did some research) was why there were two front doors. If I'd known it was a physician's house, it would have all been clear! The right, and less showy entrance was for the office, and the left and more elaborate, was for the residence. 
As the article says, the front door is modeled on the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis. See the resemblance?  I would guess that the door at 8 West is a replacement door and would have originally been double like the ones below.
Once you enter the family side, the door frames are really incredible! 
The inspiration for the swan-neck door surround is from the John Carrère House. 
Carrère and Hastings were a major beaux arts-style architecture firm and were responsible for the look of Mount Vernon Place. 

The article says that the drawing room, library and dining room were all on the second floor, which, when you see the space makes sense. Here are some of the pictures of the space. 

The flat is a studio, with about 850 square feet of space. There is one large room, with a kitchen, a bath and some closets. The long hallway has some built in book cases, as well as a lovely Palladian window with a cozy seat. 
It is always so amazing when the different facets of life intersect. You can see more images from the listing here