Monday, February 12, 2018

Dr. Whitfield Winsey

In honor of Black History Month, wed like to introduce you to Dr. Whitfield Winsey (1842-1919)

In 1867, Dr. John Richard Woodcock Dunbar began tutoring Whitfield Winsey, who became the first African-American physician admitted to the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty.

Dr. Dunbar probably had a great influence on Winsey’s acceptance into Harvard Medical School. As a graduate of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Medical School and the founder of the Baltimore Medical Institute, Dr. Dunbar had important connections in the medical community which would prove to be an immense help to Winsey, an up-and-coming black physician.

In 1872, Winsey became the first black physician admitted to the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. His connections to Dunbar, even after Dunbar’s death, served him well.

An article on Dr. Dunbar’s death a week earlier in the Sun stated “He was preceptor [tutor] of a large number of the graduates of medicine in this city, having as high as twenty-five students at one time in his office during the sessions of the medical college here. Many of his students have risen to eminence in the profession.”

Winsey may be fairly counted among those eminent students, especially as his accomplishments were not only of importance to his profession. With the memory of Dr. Dunbar so fresh in their minds, his colleagues at the Faculty helped Winsey in his efforts to gain recognition of his talents in the larger medical community. Through this accomplishment, Winsey was able to break down the barriers of race.

Winsey set up his medical practice out of his home at 1220 E. Fayette St. in 1872. During the 1870s and ‘80s, Winsey’s name appeared in the pension files of several black Civil War veterans as their physician. This was the beginning of a prosperous career serving his fellow African Americans professionally, both as a business and a social service, as can be seen in his later medical associations.

In 1894, a group of prominent black physicians founded Provident Hospital on Orchard Street, which was the first private teaching hospital for blacks in Baltimore.

In 1902, the hospital moved into two remodeled residences on Biddle Street. Winsey was an instructor at Provident, which provided teaching for colored internists.

In 1901, Winsey became the treasurer and physician for the Industrial Home for Colored Girls at Melvale, a post which he held for eighteen years until his death.

According to his biography in the Medical Annals of Maryland, Winsey was also a Delegate to the International Medical Congress at Washington. In addition, Winsey was the author of several papers before the Faculty, the Clinical Society of Maryland, and the Medical Congress. Sometime before his death in 1919, Winsey also became a member of the American Medical Association.

Although Winsey was employed as a physician at black institutions such as the Melvale Home and Provident Hospital, he belongs to white fraternal and professional organizations. Perhaps Winsey saw entry into traditionally white organizations as a way to further break down racial barriers, or to further his career. Perhaps his sponsors saw helping Winsey as a contribution to the advancement of his race, and perhaps his light skin color made that process easier. Membership in such societies indeed had a positive influence upon his career, although Winsey was unable to cross the color bar and work in white institutions.

Dr. Whitfield Winsey provided leadership for many aspects of nineteenth century African American society in Baltimore. As a member of the small but growing cadre of black physicians in the city, the Harvard-trained Winsey served as the black voice on the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland, a prestigious medical society that he joined in 1882.

Like most other black professionals of nineteenth century Baltimore, Winsey’s professional stature brought the burden of responsibility to his race, which he bore well. And, as the Baltimore Sun reported, Winsey’s rise was indicative of “the advances made by blacks during the late-nineteenth century.”

Thursday, February 1, 2018

George H. Rohé in Bronze

One of my current projects is cataloging the bronzes in our collection. There are several scattered around the buildings, including the two of Sir William Osler, MD, which are in Osler Hall. 
Today, I received a phone call from someone who had seen my name listed as the "in-house" historian, and she asked if I knew about a bas relief that had been at our Eutaw Street location, also known as Hamilton Terrace. 

First, I was pretty sure I'd never heard it called Hamilton Terrace, but when I checked the Medical Annals (1899), the HQ location was referred to by both names, sometimes at the same time. 

Second, when I was thinking of a bas relief, my thoughts immediately went to something like this. 

It wasn't until the end of the conversation, that she mentioned it was a bronze. At that point, I knew exactly where it was. I ran downstairs and took some pictures of Dr. George H. Rohé (1851-1899). He was president of MedChi in 1893-94, amongst many other accomplishments.

The bronze is by local sculptor, Ephriam Keyser, who was a contemporary of Dr. Rohé. 

It is signed at the bottom: E. Keyser Fec 1901. Fec is short for fecit, which means "made by", and is often found on works of art. 

Stay tuned for posts about the other bronzes!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Celebrating 219 Years!

In January of 1799, just as the Maryland State Legislature was beginning its annual assembly, the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland was legislated into existence. From across the state, 101 medical men convened to establish an organization to “prevent quackery and pretenders to the healing arts.” 

From the Medical Annals of Maryland (1899):

Although the first attempt at organization had proved abortive, it can scarcely have failed to leave its impression. The seed had been sown which was to germinate in the minds of the doctors for a decade, and then ripen into the splendid charter of 1799.

This Act received the signature of the Governor and thereby became a law of the land on the twentieth of January of the aforesaid year. It would be interesting to know something of the details connected with its authorship and passage, to pry into the past and see the old doctors of a hundred years ago as they conferred together over this document of such far-reaching significance to them and their successors, to know who were they who labored most for its adoption, and what was said and done on the occasion.

But these like many other events connected with those early days are hidden from us perhaps forever and we can only picture them to ourselves in imagination.

For it is a singular fact that in all the researches of this writer, extending back now twenty years, he has never seen or heard of any manuscript relating to the first meeting, and at the recent Centennial not a single letter or document was offered making any allusion whatever to it. The writer has in his possession a medical diary and note book of Professor Porter of the year 1799, in which it is not once mentioned.

We know this much however: That the charter met with opposition in its passage through the Legislature and that for some years the members were in constant apprehension lest that body should seize some pretext to annul it.
The charter is entitled An Act to establish and incorporate a Medical and Chirurgical Faculty or Society in the State of Maryland. Its objects are stated in the preamble which reads as follows:
Whereas it appears to the General Assembly of Maryland that the establishment and incorporation of a Medical and Chirurgical Faculty or Society of Physicians and Surgeons in the said State will be attended with the most beneficial and salutary consequences by promoting and disseminating medical and chirurgical knowledge throughout the State, and may in future prevent the citizens thereof from risking their lives in the hands of ignorant practitioners or pretenders to the healing art, etc.
And again in the body of the Act, Such purposes as they may judge most conducive to the promoting and disseminating medical and surgical knowledge or to alleviating the calamities and miseries of their fellow citizens, The Act further provides for the possession and disposal of property the holding of a meeting for organization the making of by-laws and the adoption of a seal.

The first meeting was appointed to be held at Annapolis on the first Monday in June 1799, and fifteen members were declared to be a quorum. The incorporators and their successors were declared to be one community corporation and body politic forever by and under the name of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland.

The names of 101 incorporators were given representing from three to six each the nineteen counties into which the State was then divided, and the cities of Annapolis and Baltimore. These names represent not only the best elements of the Maryland profession of the period, but the highest types of physicians to be found anywhere, men trained at the schools of Leyden, Paris, London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dublin, Philadelphia; and pupils of Boerhaave, Hunter, Cullen, the Monros, Bell, Rush, and others whose names are enrolled high upon the scroll of fame men erudite in all the knowledge of medicine as it was then taught and understood; fine classical scholars to whom Latin was almost as familiar as their native tongue.

In the language of one of our orators, Professor Richard Wilmot Hall, at the biennial oration of 1815, “To classical erudition the most liberal and profound they united the stores of medical learning with which the ancients or moderns had enriched the science of physic or of which the schools of America and Europe could boast.”

Happy 219th Birthday to MedChi!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Thomas E. Hunt, Jr., MD

Dr. Thomas E. Hunt, Jr., a long-time member of MedChi, The Baltimore City Medical Society, the Maryland Orthopedic Association, and the Medical Alumni Association of the University of Maryland, passed away on Christmas Eve. Please find his obituary here
Dr. Hunt was the unofficial historian of MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society. In 2008, MedChi created the annual Thomas E. Hunt, Jr., MD Lecture Series to explore the intersection of medicine and history.
“Tom was the most honest person I’ve ever known,” said Dr. Allan D. Jensen, a friend. “In later years, we would be out driving and he would be the navigator, calling out where William Osler [one of the co-founders of Hopkins Hospital] lived.”
“My father was fascinated by the city and the people who live here,” said his son, James Hunt. “Though he was encouraged to move his practice to the suburbs after the riots in April 1968, he declined. Whatever the city’s problems, he didn’t think they would be improved by his leaving.”
The family has requested that memorial contributions be made to The Center for a Healthy Maryland, care of MedChi. Please go to this link if you would like to contribute.

Dr. Hunt, an integral member of MedChi's History of Maryland Medicine committee, will be greatly missed by all of us. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Getting Ready for the Holidays!

All of us here at MedChi are busy during this festive season. But our portraits are busy in their own ways... As the song says, "Don we now our gay apparel", so our portraits took this advice and dressed for the holidays. 

Dr. John Ruhrah, who continues to be MedChi's generous Santa Claus, although he died in 1934.

Father and Son: Dr. Horace Hayden and Lewis Hayden who died around age 16.

Dr. Thomas Buckler, an American in Paris for many years.

Dr. Richard McSherry, surgeon during the Mexican wars.

Dr. Charles Manly Ellis, a manly man.

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, founder of Homeopathy

Dr. Edgar Friedenwald, one of multi-generational family of physicians in Baltimore.

Dr. Nathan Ryno Smith, also known as The Emperor. 

Of course, our Marcia is always for a special occasion!

Happiest of Holidays from all of us at MedChi!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

John Ruhräh, MD Elementary & Middle School

I just recently discovered that there's a school in Baltimore City named after our own Dr. John Ruhräh! So one sunny Sunday afternoon, I went on a quest to find it. 

The school is located in south-east Baltimore, near what's known as Greektown. The area is relatively low-income and a lot of recent immigrants live there, and it's known as "the school of many nations" for that reason. Is is less than 500 feet from both I-95 and I-895. 

The school was built in three parts, the main one in 1930, several years before Dr. Ruhräh's death in 1934. 
The historic buildings survey has this to say about the school building:
The main block of the school is constructed in the Classical Revival Style. The exterior is of brick laid in Flemish bond except for later brick infill which is laid in running bond. Characteristic of this style, the school as originally constructed was wholly symmetrical, consisted of a central projecting bay flanked by two wings.
The central bay of the main facade consists of a stone entrance loggia flanked on each side by a single bay tower. The central stone loggia has triple arches and Ionic order columns leading to the front entrance doors. All original doors and transom windows within this entrance area have been recently replaced and original windows on each side of the entrance bricked in.
Above the loggia is a stone balustrade. The second and third stories above the loggia originally had bands of five double-hung windows with brick pilasters separating each window. These bands of windows have been removed and bricked in with only the openings at the end of each original band of windows being replaced with modem aluminum sash windows having a large single light over a smaller square light.  
Additionally, the Historic Survey says this about Dr. Ruhräh:

The John Ruhrah Elementary School No. 228 is not known to be associated with an individual who is historically significant in a local, state, or national context. Although it is named for Dr. John Ruhrah, he had no personal association with the building. Other sites within Baltimore exist that have a much stronger connection to Dr. Ruhrah including the Algonquin Apartment building at 11 E. Chase Street, where he had both an apartment and an office for more than 25 years.
Of course, you know what this means... I am going to have to walk a few blocks over to Chase Street and find the old Algonquin Apartments.

 It's quite a handsome building, and it's a shame that there's nothing on the school's website that associates the school with the man. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our beloved Marcia, along with the rest of the Staff at MedChi, the Center for a Healthy Maryland and the MedChi Agency, wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving.

November 27 is the 71st anniversary of Marcia's death. She is buried at Baltimore's Greenmount Cemetery, along with other notables including Johns Hopkins and John Wilkes Booth.