Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Medical School Lecture Cards

In the 1800’s, medical schools were much less formal than they are now. Medical colleges used a system of lecture cards or “tickets” to pay their faculty and doctors who taught in the schools.  The doctors who taught the course would issue a ticket to the students for their respective lecture in return for a fee paid by the student. Students attended lectures on the subjects that interested them or which were in their specialty. Medical school graduates could attend the lectures to brush up on current knowledge, or hear a particular specialist or well-known physician.

At the beginning of the year, students would be given a card with the instructor’s name and the title of the lecture, along with the name of the school. lecture ticket

The tickets were printed on a heavy stock paper so they would last.  The student's signature was always on the front of the card. The faculty member’s name could either be on the front or the back of the card, or not on the card at all. Some of the cards were embellished with illustrations of the school, or some anatomical reference, like this one from the University of Pennsylvania, one of the oldest medical schools. image

Students could buy sets of tickets for all of the lectures they would be attending over the course of the year – one ticket per subject – and then the next year, buy another set of tickets. Tickets were often issued in a special envelope or leather pouch. A full set is preferable to just one or two.

There’s quite a collectible market for lecture tickets, and depending on the age (pre-Civil War is best), school, lecturer and other variables, they can be quite valuable – as high as $170 per card.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Jewish Museum of Maryland & MedChi

Since I arrived at MedChi last April, I’ve been working on a series of Cultural Exchanges with some of the other institutions in Baltimore, including house museums, neighborhood organizations and historians.  I recently had the chance to visit with Karen Falk, the Curator of the Jewish Museum of Maryland here at MedChi.image

MedChi shares a history with the Jewish Museum in some of our physicians, including the expansive Friedenwald family of several generations of physicians, pharmacists and printers (they printed our centennial book!). Friedenwald AaronfRIEDENWALD EFRIEDENWALD EE

You can read Karen’s blog post here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dr. Beanes

William Beanes, M.D. is a name that should be more well-known than it is, but we are working to correct that and give him the recognition that he deserves.

The Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland was founded in 1799, just years after our country was born. Many of MedChi’s early members had fought in the American Revolution, and were prepared to fight again in the War of 1812, and in the Battles of North Point and Baltimore, which took place in September of 1814.

Fort McHenry, which was defended during the Battle of Baltimore, was named after another of MedChi’s earliest members, James McHenry. However, it is one of our founding members, William Beanes, M.D. of Prince George’s County, Maryland, who played a pivotal, yet largely unknown, role in the history of our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

If not for Dr. Beanes, Francis Scott Key would not have been on a ship in Baltimore’s Harbor, and he would never have written the poem which became our National Anthem.

Here is the story of William Beanes, M.D.

imageWilliam Beanes was born at Brooke Ridge, a thousand-acre farm near Croome in Prince George's County, on January 24th, 1749.

There were no medical schools when Dr. Beanes studied medicine, so he most likely apprenticed with a local physician. Professionally, his reputation spread beyond the county, and in 1799, when the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland was established, he was one of its founders and a member of its first examining board.

As the War of 1812 raged, in August of 1814, the British Army sailed up the Potomac River, planning to burn the young nation’s capital, Washington, to the ground. Some of the army marched up the banks of the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers, and through Upper Marlborough, where Dr. Beanes lived.

British General Ross selected Dr. Beanes’ home as his headquarters, and Dr. Beanes agreed not to object to his presence or cause the troops harm. Because Beanes chose not to fight against the occupation of his home, he was believed to be sympathetic to the British cause. Unbeknownst to the British, however, because it was feared that the British would burn the capital city of Annapolis, Dr. Beanes had secretly hidden Maryland state records on his property for safekeeping.

However, when the British Army returned to Upper Marlborough after burning Washington, they were jubilant, drunk and marauding. Dr. Beanes and some of his neighbors were forced to arrest some of the most badly behaved of the group. One prisoner escaped and reported to General Ross that Dr. Beanes had taken some prisoners.

General Ross returned to Upper Marlborough and arrested Dr. Beanes in the middle of the night. There was great outrage at Dr. Beanes’ arrest, and for the “great rudeness and indignity heaped upon a respectable and aged old man.” Dr. Beanes travelled with the British Army down the Potomac River and up the Chesapeake Bay, as the British prepared to burn Baltimore, “a nest of pirates”, as they had done to Washington.

At the same time, a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key, a nephew of MedChi’s first President, Upton Scott, was engaged to free Dr. Beanes from the British Army. Key travelled to Baltimore with letters of support from President James Madison, as well as letters from British prisoners whose injuries Dr. Beanes had treated only weeks earlier in Upper Marlborough.

Dr. Beanes was being held on the Minden, a truce ship in the waters just south of Baltimore, and Key sailed out to the Minden to negotiate for his release. While Key was negotiating with the British, the Battle of Baltimore was beginning. For more than 25 hours the battle raged, and bombs rained down on Fort McHenry from the British ships moored in the Patapsco River.battleDr. Beanes and Francis Scott Key watched and waited all through the night. As long as bombs were being shot back from the Fort, the men knew that all was not lost and the Fort still stood. Towards the morning, the cannon fire slowed and then stopped, followed by an ominous silence from across the water. Both men were gripped by hope and fear. Was the Fort lost to the British and would Baltimore suffer as Washington had, just weeks earlier?

As the dawn broke, Francis Scott Key and Dr. Beanes were able to see that the flag was still there, flying above Fort McHenry. They knew that the British had not been able to capture Baltimore. clip_image002As the men sailed back to Baltimore, Francis Scott Key penned the now famous poem on the back of an envelope. It was printed in a local paper and then set to the tune of an old drinking song, To Anacreon In Heaven. SSB2Dr. Beanes returned to his home, Academy Hill in Upper Marlborough, and continued to practice medicine. He died at age 80 in October of 1828. Dr. Beanes is buried in a small graveyard in Upper Marlborough, and is remembered throughout Prince George’s county where several roads, schools and parks bear his name, and continue to tell his story.

In 1914, MedChi placed a bronze plaque at the gates to the graveyard. beanes plaqueIn October 2013, MedChi President, Russell Wright, MD, participated in a ceremony at the gravesite where the Daughters of the War of 1812 placed a new plaque detailing Dr. Beanes’ role in the Star-Spangled Banner.

During the coming year, which is the 200th Anniversary of the writing of the National Anthem, MedChi will be hosting events to celebrate our role in both that and the Battles of Baltimore, North Point and Bladensburg.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Happy Birthday to MedChi!

It was 215 years ago this week that the Maryland General Assembly and the Governor of Maryland signed into legislation an act to “prevent the citizens (of Maryland) from risking their lives in the hands of ignorant practitioners or pretenders to the healing art”. More than 100 physicians from the lower Eastern Shore to the mountains of Western Maryland were involved in helping this legislation come to fruition. The first official meeting of the Faculty wasn’t held until June of 1799.founding documents 1807

Among the early leaders of the organization were Upton Scott, the first president of MedChi, who was the last Royal Physician of Annapolis, and an elder statesman of the medical community. He was also the uncle of Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star-Spangled Banner.

The original 100 “incorportators” formed the backbone of the Faculty, and represented the best of medicine at the turn of the century. Most had been taught at the medical schools of Europe, including in England, Scotland, France and Germany.

Here’s how they are described as they came together to enact the legislation:

There we may fancy the founders preparing to sit in council, grave and reverend seigniors, deliberate in act and speech, still clad in the antique style: wig, cue, frilled shirt, high-necked coat with large brass buttons, knee breeches, stockings, shoe buckles and not least, the gold headed cane.

Much of our early information comes not from written documents of the time, but by orations of physicians who came later, especially near the 50th anniversary of the Faculty. However, we do have some early documents, including this order for sheepskins, parchment and paper from 1807.accounting

Upton Scott, who was then 77 years old, served as President for one year and was succeeded by Philip Thomas, who was married to the daughter of the President of the Continental Congress, John Hanson. We have two portraits of Philip Thomas, and this is the far better of them! In 1801, it was decided to locate the headquarters of MedChi in Baltimore City, since, essentially, all roads lead to Baltimore, and it was accessible more easily than Annapolis to a greater number of people. 1801 full map smallThe debate still lingers as to whether our HQ should remain in Baltimore.

From the original 100 members, MedChi is now an organization of more than 7,500 physicians and affiliated members across the State of Maryland, and still continues to work for physicians in Maryland.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bodine’s Baltimore

When I was searching the archives, I found a file marked Bodine pictures. I pulled it out and found a few images that the great Baltimore photographer, A. Aubrey Bodine, had taken of our building in February of 1961. There were several interior images, which in hindsight, don’t do our decorating skills any favour, and one exterior shot. Bodine picture

It looks like Cathedral Street was one-way, heading south, at the time this picture was made. I am completely fascinated by the car on the left side of the image. Any ideas of what it is?

And why is that window open on a snowy February day?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

MedChi and Mencken

Baltimore was the perfect place for H.L. Mencken to live. Its numerous hospitals, including the newly opened Johns Hopkins, and Mencken was a known hypochondriac. Mencken knew and became friends with many of the doctors at Hopkins, a rather international set.mencken2
From the book, Mencken: The American Iconoclast, comes this piece:
Mencken lived in Baltimore during the years when the Big Four – Welch, Osler, Halsted and Kelly – were at the top of their careers. He had varying feelings about each of them, but he knew Osler least of all of them.  You can read more about his thoughts here.image
Dr. Christian Deetjen, an immigrant from Germany, who was a pioneer in x-ray research was a member of Mencken’s Saturday Night Club. Dr. Deetjen received copy 66 of 300 of the Bibliography of H.L. Mencken and it was inscribed to him by Mencken himself: For Dr. Chr. Deetjen / How many noble / evenings we have / spent together! / HL Mencken.
We have a personal letter, dated 1936, from Mencken to Marcia Noyes responding to her invitation to him to come visit our newly renovated reading room, and thanking her for a leaflet describing it. IMG_3844
In 1979, the Maryland Medical Journal published a piece by Jean-Maurice Poitras, M.D. FAAP, entitled Medicine Needs Another Mencken.
mencken 1                             lations, they are praised, but when they try to tell the truth, they are defamed.
Mencken and MedChi are intertwined in Baltimore’s history.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Illustrious Language

As I scan through the “Medical Annals of Maryland” published by MedChi on the occasion of the 100th anniversary by MedChi member, Eugene Cordell, 

I am often struck by the language, which reflected that of the era – late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It is much more descriptive and florid than anything we’d ever use now.

Of James Moat Anderson (1752-1820), Cordell said:

His appearance was unique and striking: though small in stature and limping in gait, his dignity was never laid aside. His person was slender and arrayed in a gray cloth, long-waisted, shad-breasted coat, reaching far below the knee; a standing collar and ample pockets; olive-colored velvet breeches with silver knee buckles, such as were worn by gentlemen of time; gray home-knit stockings and low quartered shoes, which were exchanged in winter for red-topped boots, a low-crowned, broad-brimmed beaver hat and white-lawned stock, buckled behind.


Of Tristram Thomas (1769-1847),

He was very tall and spare with narrow sloping shoulders; gentle and sympathetic. The very model of a polished gentleman. He carried a cane made of wood from the Mount of Olives.


Of David Stewart (1813-1860), he said:

Of the olden school, stern yet gentle as a woman, and courteous as a Chesterfield; a brilliant conversationalist with whom no one ever conversed without profit and his tongue was always clean.

Of my many greats-grandfather, Richard Sprigg Steuart (1797-1876), imagehe said:

He devoted his life and means to the relief of the insane. An enlightened physician and alienist and a gentleman of most courteous manners.

The book is filled with these lovely sentiments of long-gone gentlemen.