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.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

It's All on Eutaw

Eutaw Street and Eutaw Place are two of the iconic streets of old Baltimore, running in a north-south direction, starting close to the Harbor and moving north to Druid Hill Reservoir. It changes from a street to a place where it widens and is bisected by a long park-like median, with fountains, statues and old trees. 
Eutaw Place is lined with huge residential town-houses, many of which are now divided into apartments. 

Eutaw Street is more commercial. It is and was a hub of shopping and medicine.

Few streets in Baltimore had a greater concentration of physicians than Eutaw Street, just west of where MedChi is located. In 1895, the Faculty was searching for a new headquarters building and looked first at 837 N. Eutaw Street, but then purchased 847 N. Eutaw Street, where they were confident they would stay for a generation or more. 
Sadly, it's no longer there, having been replaced by a parking lot. And within 10 years, the Faculty had moved into their new building, just a few blocks away. That building has lasted several generations!
But, as someone once told me, there were almost 100 physicians located on Eutaw Street and Eutaw Place between Dolphin Street and North Avenue.
Both William Halsted and Howard Kelly, two of the "big four" lived on Eutaw Place, with Kelly's house still standing and sporting a "blue plaque." 
Unfortunately, Halsted's house was demolished in a road-widening effort, but if the remaining adjacent house is any indication, it was amazing.

In the Medical Annals of Maryland (1799-1899), I did a search for Eutaw, and came up with the following.

Dr. John R. Abercrombie - 827 Eutaw Street
Dr. Joseph H. Branham - 2200 Eutaw Place
Dr. Claribel Cone - 1616 Eutaw Place
Dr. John M.T. Finney - 1300 Eutaw Place
Dr. William S. Halsted - 1201 Eutaw Place
Dr. Howard A. Kelly - 1406 Eutaw Place. Dr. Kelly also operated a private hospital at 1418 Eutaw Place.
Dr. Thomas P. McCormick - 1421 Eutaw Place
Dr. William B. McDonald - 1030 Eutaw Street
Dr. Samuel K. Merrick - 843 Eutaw Street
Dr. Amanda Taylor Norris - 1035 Eutaw Street (She was the first woman to receive a diploma from a "regular" medical school.)
Dr. William W. Requardt - 2235 Eutaw Place
Dr. John Ruhräh - 839 Eutaw Street
Dr. James G. Wiltshire - 819 Eutaw Street

On the south end of Eutaw Street, there was the Women's Hospital, the Medical Dispensary and some of the University of Maryland's Medical School buildings on the southern end of Eutaw. 

And for those of you not from Baltimore, Eutaw is pronounced like the western state of Utah. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Ghost Story for Halloween

Of course, Halloween is special here at MedChi, what with us having our own personal resident ghost, dear Marcia!
For decades, there have been stories about hearing footsteps going up the main staircase to Marcia's old penthouse apartment on the fourth floor, hearing the squeak of book cart wheels, finding paintings tucked into the stacks and much more. 

As I read through a lot of old accounts of the early years on Cathedral Street, time and time again, I read about the physicians sending Marcia bouquets of flowers after she had done them some favor or for her birthday, or in Sir William's case, just because...
(There's a note on the back of this saying "Of course, he knew it wasn't really my birthday.")

When we first decided to give a bouquet of flowers to the winner of the Noyes Award at the Medical Library Association of which she was a founder, I went to the top floor of the stacks and told Marcia that we were doing this in her honor. We wanted to acknowledge the influence she had on her profession down through the years. And we wanted to circle Marcia back to MedChi where she worked for 50 years.  

Naturally, I felt a little silly making my little speech out loud, but I thought that if she was to ever know we were doing this, I had to actually speak the words. 

No sooner had I finished up, than I heard something like a pencil fall and hit the ground. My hair stood on end and I had goosebumps all over. I said something like "Oh, I am glad you like the idea," and flew down all four flights of stairs! It was totally spooky and no other time I've been up in the stacks has something randomly fallen. 

The bouquets of flowers have been a big hit with the winners of the Noyes award, and it's been fun continuing the tradition started more than a century ago by such notables as Sir William Osler, Dr. John Ruhräh and other friends of Marcia's.