Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MedChi’s Library

In preparation for a meeting with several members of the University of Maryland’s Medical Library, I prepared a brief timeline of the history of MedChi’s Library.

In 1830, Samuel Baker, M.D., proposed a resolution to establish a medical library, which was passed and the Library Committee was formed. John Fonerden, M.D. was appointed as the first librarian and the Library was located in his private home. An allocation of $500 was given to establish the Library and Dr. Fonerden was given a salary of $100 a year.
         Samuel Baker, MD     Fonerden

                      John Fonerden, MD

The first catalogue was printed in 1833 and numbered 569 books. In 1835, the Library was relocated to the home of Dr. Samuel Chew, Chew2on Lexington Street, and by 1840, it had moved to his office at 88 N. Howard Street. In 1846, a catalogue of the Library’s holdings was printed and distributed to every member.

By 1855, the Library had begun its decline, and subscriptions to all of the periodicals and books were discontinued. Although the Library was reported to have 1,250 volumes, there were significantly fewer, as members, against the rules, had borrowed many of the books and not returned them. By 1858, the Executive Committee had voted to close the Library due to its sad condition. But the Library held on, with the books remaining in its possession.

In 1874, the Library had added no books, held no meetings and only had $60 in its accounts. But 36 volumes were donated to the Library, regardless. In 1876, $350 was allocated to the Library and each member was assessed $4.00 to help rebuild the Library. By 1879, a card catalogue system had been established, one for authors and one for book titles.

By 1880, the Library was on an upward trajectory, and there were more than 2,700 volumes on its shelves. Although there’s no mention of the location of the Library, it was most likely at the Faculty’s Hall on East Fayette Street. The Library had become one of the most important facets of the Faculty by 1882. It was at this time that the Library Committee began to look for a building which could house the Library and which was also fireproof.

By 1886, the Library had relocated to the Mercantile Library Rooms, which had glass-fronted shelves which could hold up to 50,000 volumes, although they only had one-tenth that number of books. Members paid the sum of $1 a year for a key to the reading rooms. The Library was by now subscribing to medical journals from England, France, Germany and other countries which had major medical universities. The card catalogues were in order and so were the books.

By 1888, William Osler, M.D., had arrived in Baltimore and he was a great bibliophile. In his work bridging Johns Hopkins Medical School and the greater medical community in Baltimore, he became active in the Faculty’s Library. The Library’s volumes had increased to more than 9,000 and another permanent location was being investigated. It was with his urging that the Frick family made a significant gift to the Library to establish a separate reading room, purchase books on topics which Dr. Charles Frick had been interested and to support the Library and reading room and Library with an annual contribution.

In 1896, it is reported that “a lady librarian has been hired” and she’s Marcia Crocker Noyes, who turned out to be the Faculty’s librarian for the next 50 years. Marcia-crocker-noyesThe Library also begins keeping full hours – from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. More than 3,000 visitors had come to use the library, which by then had more than 7,500 volumes. The Library had also moved again and it was located in an antebellum mansion on North Eutaw Street, and an apartment was provided for Miss Noyes on the premises.Eutaw Street

In the year of the Faculty’s centennial, the Library was doing better than it ever had and had more money in its coffers than anyone would have imagined. centennialIn addition to the books it purchased, it also received numerous donations of the libraries of deceased members. In 1899, that numbered more than 1,200 volumes.

By 1909, the Faculty had moved yet again, but this time into its new purpose-build headquarters. 1909A four-story stacks library was included in the original plans, and a large sunny reading room was included as well. There was an office for the library staff adjacent to the reading room, and the librarian, Marcia Noyes, was on-call around the clock. Marcia Noyes

When the building was constructed, the Faculty built her a “penthouse” apartment on the top floor of the building. This meant that she could be reached at any hour of the day or night to provide assistance to the doctors who called searching for a particular book.

Sir William Osler’s role in the library cannot be underestimated. It was his drive and reputation that helped bring the library into prominence in the country. When he left Baltimore, members of the Faculty raised money for a special fund for the library and Osler’s colleague at Hopkins, Max Brödel designed a bookplate for these volumes. OslerSir William would send special and valuable books to the library even after he had moved to England. Upon his death, another fund was established to provide books for the library.

Max Brödel, the premiere medical illustrator at Johns Hopkins, also designed the seal for the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty and it was used as the bookplate for the library, medchialong with plates he designed for John Ruhräh, M.D., Ruhrahand Thomas S. Cullen, M.D. Cullen

At its peak, the Library housed more than 65,000 volumes, dating from the 1500’s to the late 1900’s. In 2004, the decision was made to eliminate the position of librarian and to de-accession some of the Library’s more valuable volumes, in part because MedChi lacked the financial resources to care for the books. Members were invited to come and select the books they wished to have for their own libraries and the stacks were closed to the membership. stacks1

However, more than 50,000 books remain, and there is still the occasional query for a specific volume. The card catalogues, IMG_9915with their thousands of cards, many hand-written, still remain, and anyone wanting to hunt for a specific book would be welcome to try and find it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Sad Case of Waiting Room Willie

In 1949/1950, President Harry S Truman proposed a national healthcare system, and the plan was to insure that all communities, regardless of their size or income level, had access to doctors and hospitals. Both the AMA and local medical societies objected to this proposal, saying it was a form of socialized medicine at best, or a Communist system of medicine, at worst. AMA members were charged $25 per person to help fight the nationalized medicine program. You can read a bit more about it here.

To publicize their opposition to the “common man”, the Baltimore City Medical Society, a component of MedChi, published a comic book entitled, “The Sad Case of Waiting Room Willie” in which poor Willie thinks that nationalized medicine sounds great until he gets sick.2-07 (15)

The comic book outlines what the government proposes, and then goes on to tell the sad story of Waiting Room Willie.2-07 (1)

What’s so amusing is that this is exactly what’s happening right now with the Affordable Care Act. 2-07 (4)

At the end of the magazine, there’s a form letter for readers to copy and send to their congressmen and senators. 2-07 (3)

Some things never change!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Richard Sprigg Steuart (1797-1876)

As I was working on the biographies of the Faculty members who had been involved in the War of 1812, I was polishing up the details of my ancestor, Richard Sprigg Steuart and soon found myself down the rabbit hole.

Dr. Steuart came from a long line of Marylanders, even at that point in time, and was a son of Dr. James Steuart.

At age 17, Dr. Steuart volunteered to be an Aide-de-Camp at the Battle of North Point in 1814, under the direction of his older brother, Captain (later Major General) George H. Steuart. Following the war, he was educated at St. Mary's College, Baltimore and was a pupil in law, under General William H. Winder who led the Battle of Bladensburg. When he studied medicine, he was a pupil under Dr. William Donaldson and practiced with him for most of his career. He received an honorary M.D. from the University of Maryland in 1822, as did many of his contemporaries.

He became a Professor of the Practice of Medicine at the University of Maryland in 1843, but never lectured. In 1848-49 and again in 1850-51, he was President of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. Dr. Steuart was an Orator at Medical and Chirurgical Faculty in 1829. He was a Vice-President, American Medical Association in 1849. In 1874, Dr. Steuart reorganized and became the President of the Alumni Association at the University of Maryland.

Early on however he began to specialize in the relatively neglected field of mental illness, and in 1834 he became President of the Board of Visitors of the Maryland Hospital for the Insane. This is possibly because two of his brother’s sons suffered from mental illness. Dr. Steuart was a founder and Superintendent of the Hospital from 1828 to 1842 and 1869 to 1876. It was known as one of the largest and best appointed Insane Asylums in the United States.imageThis later became Spring Grove in what is now Catonsville, Maryland. Dr. Steuart devoted his life and means to the relief to the insane.

Steuart’s home in Baltimore was known as Maryland Square and it had been the family’s home from 1795 until 1861, when it was seized by Union forces, and used as a hospital until after the war. It later became a boys’ school and was named Steuart Hall. It was located at what is now the corner of Monroe and West Baltimore streets. 800px-Old_steuart_hall_1868Dr. Steuart inherited Dodon, a tobacco plantation south of Annapolis, and left the practice of medicine in 1842 to farm the property. Although he held slaves, he was not in favor of owning them and believed that they should be freed and returned to Africa, most likely the new state of Liberia. During the war years, he was a fugitive and traveled between the Maryland counties and Baltimore. He was relieved of his position at the Maryland Hospital for the Insane after he declined to sign an oath of loyalty to the Union Army.

After the war, he was reinstated as the Superintendent at the Hospital for the Insane, and was in charge when it moved to its present location in Spring Grove, just outside of Baltimore City.Richard_Sprigg_Steuart

He was “an enlightened physician and alienist and a gentleman of most courteous manners.” He died on July 13, 1876. His daughter painted the portrait from which the top picture is taken.

Oddly enough, in the past week, I have come across references to two connections to Steuart’s life. A friend has a painting of the Maryland Hospital for the Insane, and I was speaking to him about it. I recently met someone who works at the Dodon Vineyards, which is the plantation where Steuart’s family farmed. You can read a little of the farm’s history here.

For a more detailed account of Richard Sprigg Steuart’s life, click here

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thomas Hepburn Buckler

One of my favorite portraits is that of Thomas Hepburn Buckler. It is unlike most of the portraits in our collection and has an especially vivid background and detailed desk.

This is actually one of two portraits of Dr. Buckler that we have here at MedChi, the other of which is considerably less charming.Buckler J

Thomas Hepburn Buckler was born at Evergreen, near Baltimore, Maryland, on January 4, 1812, and was educated at St. Mary’s College, Baltimore. He took his M.D. in 1835 with a thesis on “Animal Heat.” He practiced afterwards in Baltimore as physician to the City Almshouse. From 1866 to 1890, he and his family lived in France where he became a physician in Paris under a license from the French government.

He was best known as a teacher and writer. His views were independent and original – some said original even to eccentricity. The “Medical Annals of Baltimore” gives a list of thirty-two of his writings, a great many of them on sanitary and social subjects. Among other things, the filling up the “Basin” or Inner Harbor of Baltimore, with the dirt from Federal Hill, and the introduction of the waters of the Gunpowder River for the supply of Baltimore were two ideas proposed. The latter of these recommendations was carried out many years later.

Dr. Buckler was a man of striking personal appearance and was much sought after on account of his brilliant conversational powers and wit. He never had a large practice; in fact never sought one, and lacked the steadiness and plodding perseverance of his brother, John D. Buckler. He was married twice, the second time to Eliza Ridgley of the old Maryland family which owned the Hampton Mansion, just north of Baltimore. He left a son, William H. Buckler. He died in Baltimore, April 20, 1901.


The portrait was painted by Julius LeBlanc Stewart (1855-1919), known as the “Philadelphian in Paris”.  He’s a whole other story…

imageHis father, William Hood Stewart, was a sugar plantation owner in Cuba. Although the family was from Philadelphia, they spent considerable time in Paris, where he began collecting art. He was methodical in his collecting and kept meticulous records in scrapbooks, which were acquired in 2013 by the Meadows Museum in Texas. These alphabetized scrapbooks contain sketches, collaged photos and about 190 letters from artists and fellow collectors.

Julius Stewart was considered a society painter who painted the notables of the day, as well as yachting, picnicking and other leisurely activities. imageHe was a contemporary of John Singer Sargent, who was also in Paris at that time. His family’s wealth allowed him to live the lush ex-pat life of an artist and paint what interested him. He liked large-scaled group portraits of his friends who were actresses, celebrities and aristocrats in late 1800’s Paris. Many of these portraits included a self-portrait somewhere in the crowd.

Julius Stewart exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon from the late 1870’s to the early 1900’s. Stewart is best known for his Belle Époque society portraits and sensuous nudes, of which he did a large number.

From the Farhat Museum in Beiruit comes this biographical information:

Julius Stewart was a figure and genre painter from Philadelphia who spent almost his entire life in Paris. From the 1880s through the first decade of the 20th century, he ranked with John Singer Sargent as one of the most popular expatriate American painters in Paris. He was following a genre begun by his friend, Jean Beraud, but Stewart's more vivacious work was considered especially American.

Stewart was born in 1855, and his family settled in Paris when he was ten years old. His earliest painting is dated 1876. His father, William Stewart, was an outcast art collector, who specialized in works of the contemporary Spanish-Roman school, including Zamacois, Fortuny and de Madrazo. These artists had a great influence on Stewart and in the 1880s, he studied with Zamacois and de Madrazo, as well as with Jean Leon Gerome.

He painted the life he thoroughly enjoyed - Parisian high society. Stewart's works are spirited and realistic, full of fashionable women, sumptuous fabrics and elegant drawing rooms. In addition to portraits of his well-to-do friends, Stewart fulfilled commissions for portraits of society figures and celebrities, among them the actress Sarah Bernhardt. “His portrayal of Bernhardt in the double portrait, Reading Aloud (circa 1883, private collection) is nearly identical to that of the female reader in An Enthralling Novel, right down to the facial features, center-parted upswept hairdo, ruffled high-necked blouse, and embroidered jacket. Both paintings were executed around the same time, so it is probable that the reader in An Enthralling Novel is Bernhardt. Period photos from the mid-1880s of Bernhardt show her with the same hairstyle and style of clothing.” (Carol Strone Art Advisory)

Stewart's first success was being chosen to exhibit at the Paris Salon in 1883. His reputation was firmly established with, The Hunt Ball (1885, Essex Club, Newark) and The Hunt Supper (1889, Buffalo Club, New York) was shown at the Paris Exposition. His high society women portraits show a particular fascination with their evolving roles in a changing society, from the depiction of beauty for beauty's sake to the portrayal of the educated sophisticate. In An Enthralling Novel he succeeds in conveying the reader's concentrated attention to the book, thus portraying her as a well-read woman and not just another pretty face.

At the same time that Stewart was painting high society scenes, he painted nudes out-of-doors, a subject more acceptable in France than in America in the 1890s. By 1905, he had a religious crisis and conversion, toning down his subject matter. At the beginning of World War I, he served in the Red Cross ambulance corps and suffered a nervous breakdown.

Stewart remained a bachelor, and died in 1919, having returned to the United States.