Free Hospital for Women. Records, 1875–1975: Finding Aid.
Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: BWH c006
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Title: Free Hospital for Women Records, 1875–1975.
Quantity: 1 collection (4 cubic feet in 3 record cartons, 1 flat document box, and 1 large document case.)
Language of materials: Records are in English.
Abstract: The records of the Free Hospital for Women are the product of the hospital staff's
administrative, publications, and public relations activities from 1875 through 1975.
Records of the Free Hospital for Women were placed on deposit with the Harvard Medical
Library in 2001 by the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Some of the collection was transferred
from the Brigham and Women's Hospital Medical Library to the Harvard Medical Library
in 2005. Additional material was added as follows:
Part of accession number 2008-049, was transferred from the Brigham and Women's Hospital Medical Library to the Harvard
Medical Library in March, 2008.
Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) owns the records described in this finding aid.
The Harvard Medical Library entered into a contract in 2001 to act as the repository
for some of BWH's archival records. Before the transfer to the Harvard Medical Library,
many of the records were in storage at various locations within the BWH. In 2005,
additions to the collection were assembled and transferred from a BWH storage facility
at 850 Boylston Street, Boston, MA by Anne Fladger, Director of the BWH Medical Library.
Gabriela Burgman created a preliminary box and folder list in 2005. Unprocessed parts
of this collection and new acquisitions were processed and this finding aid was written
by Catherine Pate at the Center for the History of Medicine. It was published in 2007.
A revised version was published in 2016.
Processing staff in the Center for the History of Medicine started processing the
archival records of the Brigham and Women's Hospital under a service agreement with
the BWH in 2001. The records, transferred in bulk from the BWH, were made up of records
from all the individual hospitals that eventually merged to become the Affiliated
Hospitals Center (AHC), which in turn became Brigham and Women's Hospital. Processing
staff made the decision to organize the records by their provenance, and processed
and described each individual hospital's records separately. Consequently, the original
transfer yielded seven groups of records, one of which is the Free Hospital for Women
The records for each hospital were organized into series and described based on
practices used at the Harvard Medical School Archives. Processing for this collection
also involved primary preservation, arrangement, and the creation of this detailed
finding aid to improve access. Duplicate records and records that did not meet the
archival collection goals of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Medical Library were
Access requires advance notice. Access to unpublished administrative records is restricted
for 50 years from creation date. Patient information is restricted indefinitely. Restricted
records, except restricted patient photographs, are noted in the finding aid. Researchers
may apply for access to restricted material. Consult the Director of Brigham and Women's
Hospital Medical Library for further information. (email: BWHMedicalLibrary@partners.org.)
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed
to the Director of Brigham and Women's Hospital Medical Library. (email: BWHMedicalLibrary@partners.org.)
However, the Brigham and Women's Hospital does not hold copyright on all the materials
in this collection. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Director
are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold
Free Hospital for Women records, 1875–1975. BWH c6. Harvard Medical Library, Francis
A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.
- Brigham and Women's Hospital. Records, 1913– (inclusive), 1980–2000 (bulk). [BWH c1]
- Affiliated Hospitals Center (Boston, Mass.) Records, 1966–1984. [BWH c2]
- Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Records, 1830– (inclusive), 1911–1980 (bulk). [BWH c3]
- Robert B. Brigham Hospital. Records, 1889–1984 (inclusive), 1915–1980, (bulk). [BWH c4]
- Boston Hospital for Women . Records, 1926–1983 (inclusive), 1966–1979 (bulk). [BWH c5]
- Free Hospital for Women. Records, 1879–1969. [MC 915]
- ___ Free Hospital for Women Scrapbook [Provides access to page images of this portion of collection MC 915.]
- Boston Lying-in Hospital. Records, 1855–1986 (inclusive), 1921–1966 (bulk). [BWH c7]
- Rock, John Charles, 1890–. Personal and Professional Papers, 1921–1985. [H MS c161]
- George V. Smith and Olive W. Smith Papers: 1917, 1928-1976, 1982. [H MS c68]
- McLaughlin, Loretta. Research and Publication Records, 1944–1984. [H MS c224]
The Free Hospital for Women (FHW) was founded in 1875 by Dr. William Henry Baker.
Dr. Baker drew his inspiration for a hospital dedicated to teaching, researching,
and caring for the diseases of women while serving as a surgical resident under Dr.
James Marion Sims, founder of the New York Woman's Hospital. With the support of clerics
and philanthropists, as well as the donated services of the surgeons and other physicians,
he established a hospital providing free medical care to poor women. The first patient,
admitted to the 5 bed facility installed in rented rooms at 16 East Springfield Street
in Boston, Massachusetts on November 2, 1875, marked the beginning of a century of
success and rapid expansion for the Free Hospital for Women. In 1877, a larger space
was found at 60 East Springfield Street to handle increasing requests for treatment.
By 1882, the new 8 bed facility had also become inadequate. The adjoining property
at number 58 East Springfield was leased allowing expansion to 20 beds and the establishment
of one of the nation's first cancer wards. The Board of Lady Visitors raised the funds
for medical supplies as well as other essentials in order for the hospital to maintain
its free medical services.
The institution quickly outgrew the rented Springfield street locations, however
the funding, design, and construction of a new facility in Brookline Massachusetts
took the next 13 years, opening in January of 1895. In the same year, a training school
for gynecological nurses was established under the directorship of Superintendent
of Nurses, Hannah Jane Ewin. Thanks to a large endowment in 1897, the Free Hospital
for Women, always active in cancer treatment, became one of the leading institutions
in that field. In 1900, the out-patient department, still housed on Springfield Street
moved to 633 Massachusetts Avenue. In 1902, Dr. William P. Graves was employed to
work at the hospital's first pathology laboratory and by 1908 had replaced the retiring
Dr. Baker as head of the hospital.
In 1918, at the request of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the hospital ceased
normal operations and devoted all its resources to the care of victims of the Spanish
influenza epidemic. That, and a shortage of medical personnel because of World War
I, caused the closure of the Nurses School at the FHW. After resuming normal operations
in 1919, the idea of admitting paying patients in addition to those receiving free
care was approved and a new wing for paying patients was finished in 1922. The President
of the Corporation, George R. Fearing, donated the funds to erect a modern research
laboratory in 1928 and pioneering research in diseases of the female reproduction
organs was conducted at the Fearing Laboratory by Dr. George Van Siclen Smith and
Dr. Olive Watkins Smith for the next 50 years. In 1944, Dr. John Charles Rock, known
for the development of the birth control pill, founded the Rock Reproductive Study
Center at the Free Hospital for Women to study infertility and along with Harvard
scientist Miriam F. Menkin, achieved the first fertilization of a human ovum in a
The Free Hospital for Women's gynecology training program and the Boston Lying-in
Hospital's obstetrics training program, informally associated since 1922, were formally
united in 1951. In 1966, the Free Hospital for Women merged with the Boston Lying-in
Hospital in cooperation with Harvard Medical School, to form the Boston Hospital for
Women (BHW). In 1975, BHW merged with the Peter Bent Brigham and the Robert B. Brigham
Hospitals forming the Affiliated Hospitals Center. In 1980, at the time of the opening
of a new state-of-the-art facility, the Affiliated Hospitals Center became known as
the Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School.
- Free Hospital for Women. Annual report. Boston : Washington Press, Geo. E. Crosby & Co., printers.
- Free Hospital for Women. A quarter of a century with the Free Hospital for Women. Brookline, 1900.
- Cappers, Elmer Osgood. History of the Free Hospital for Women, 1875–1975. Boston: Boston Hospital for Women, 1975.
The Free Hospital for Women records include those that were created during the time
period that FHW was a separate record keeping entity—before its merger with the Boston
Lying-in Hospital in 1966. The collection includes annual reports from 1875–1965 as
well as a variety of individual and group portraits of the staff, students, and hospital
buildings. Most of the 19th and early 20th century images in the collection are modern
photographic reprints. Also included are reprints of articles written by staff and
a few newspaper clippings about hospital events.
- Series: II. Photographs, Negatives, and Clippings 11 folders
Scope and Contents: Includes staff pictures, nursing school graduating class photographs, doctor portraits,
scenes of doctors and nurses working, interior and exterior shots of FHW buildings,
and preservation photographs of letters, articles, and clippings related to FHW. Bos
4 contains portraits of physicians with a connection to the Free Hospital for Women.
Arrangement: Arranged as found in the collection.
- Box 1, Folder 9, Nurses who helped open the FHW in Brookline with Dr. Charles Darling and Matron, Emily
Turner, 1895; Post-graduate class of nurses with Dr. Montoya and Superintendent of Nurses, Hannah
Ewin, 1896. 6 copy prints 24 copy negatives and made in
- Box 1, Folder 10, [Graduating classes of] nurses with Hannah Ewin, Superintendent of Nurses, 1895, 1905, 1906, 1909; Portrait of Hannah Ewin, circa 1875. 8 copy prints, 1 copy negative, and undated.
- Box 1, Folder 11, Superintendents, physicians, and researchers, circa 1875–circa 1960. 39 copy prints, 7 copy negatives, and undated.
- Box 1, Folder 12, Preservation/display photographs of historical documents, 1912, 1913, circa 1947. 4 copy prints 3 copy negatives, and undated.
Scope and Contents: Includes a copy of a letter from Dr. Baker to Dr. Graves in 1912, a copy of a letter
from Hannah Ewin to Dr. Graves in 1913, and a copy of a letter to Superintendent of
Nurses, Margaret Copeland, from actress Merle Oberon written in the 1940s. See Box
1, Folder 8 for the original letters.
- Box 1, Folder 13, 100th Anniversary Exhibit, 1975. 14 photographs
- Box 1, Folder 14, Unidentified staff group picture circa 1930; Illustration of the FHW building circa 1890; Snapshot of doctors, Smith, Duncan, Sheehan, Phillips, Hertig, Rock, and Pemberton,
circa 1940; FHW house at 16 East Springfield Street, Boston, circa 1880. 1 photographs 2 copy negatives, 1 clipping,
- Box 1, Folder 15, Operations and surgery, 1911–1912. 1 copy print 2 copy negatives, and undated.
- Box 1, Folder 16, [Medallion/corporate seal] and [operating room], circa 1911. 2 copy prints 1 copy negative, and undated.
- Box 1, Folder 17, Hospital exteriors, circa 1875–circa 1970s. 21 copy prints, 5 copy negatives, 1 postcard, and undated.
- Box 1, Folder 18, Christmas party; Women's Auxiliary; Fearing Lab, miscellaneous events, circa 1950s–circa
1960s. 12 photographs (1 negatives (photographs) 1 clipping.
Date: 1950s– 1960s.
- Box 1, Folder 19, Clippings, circa 1930–1984.
- Box 1, Folder 20, William H. Baker, MD, Chief Surgeon 1875–1908, circa 1900. 1 copy print, undated, mounted in plastic.
- Box 1, Folder 21, John Rock, MD, Visiting Surgeon, 1927–1952, circa 1950. 1 copy print, undated, mounted in plastic.
- Box 1, Folder 22, William P. Graves, MD, Chief Surgeon 1908–1932, circa 1930. 1 copy print, undated, mounted in plastic.
- Box 4, Folder 1, Thomas Addis Emmet, MD, LL.D., Surgeon to the Woman's Hospital, New York, 1887. 11" x 13.5." genreform: Engraving,
- Box 4, Folder 2, Ewen John Maclean, MD, 1927. 10" x 12." genreform: Photograph, silver gelatin,
- Box 4, Folder 3, J. Marion Sims, MD, circa 1860? 10" x 12." genreform: Photograph, albumen,
- Box 4, Folder 4, Arthur Hale Curtis, MD, circa 1930. 10.5" x 13.5." genreform: Photograph,
- Box 4, Folder 5, George Van Siclen Smith, MD, 1947. Photograph, 9" x 7," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 6, Thomas A. Stokes, Durham, North Carolina, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 7, Benjamin E. Potter, Concord, New Hampshire, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 8, Arthur G. Prangley, Greenwich, Connecticut, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 9, George E. LaCroix, MD, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 10, Donald P. Goldstein, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 11, Philip Corfman, MD, Claverack, New York, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 12, George Ryan, MD, Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 13, Stewart A. Fish, MD, Little Rock, Arkansas, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 14, Dick A. J. Brown, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 15, Basil T. Harter, MD, Bristol, Tennessee, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 16, Clinton B. Potter, MD, Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 17, Malcolm Brochin, New Haven, Connecticut, circa 1950. Photograph, 4.5" x 6.5," matted size, 11" x 14."
- Box 4, Folder 18, Frank A. Pemberton, MD, Free Hospital for Women 1908–1952, circa 1950. Photograph, 3.5" x 5.25," matted size, 11" x 14." Autographed.
- Box 4, Folder 19, Olive Watkins Smith, Ph.D., Director of Fearing Research Laboratory, circa 1930s. Photograph, 8" x 10," matted size, 10.5" x 12.5." Autographed mat. Includes an additional
- Box 5, Folder 1, Photographs taken in Free Hospital for Women OR #1, May 9, 1933. 10, 6" x 9"
Date: May 9, 1933.
Scope and Contents: Taken at intervals during a surgery to remove a 69 pound ovarian cyst. Surgical team
included George Van Siclen Smith, P.A. Young, H. Sweet, Miss Gerard, Miss Camiri,
and Miss MacMillan.
- Box 5, Folder 2, Photographs: [Man in laboratory] and [Nurse combing patient's hair], circa 1940s–1950s.
2 prints, 9.5" x 11.75."
- Box 5, Folder 3, Photographs: [Nurses with patients] and [Nurses Soprenti and Molnar working on records],
circa 1960s–1970s. 3 prints, mounted on board, 10.5" x 13.75."
- Series: III. Reference Materials and Reprints 1 folders
- Box 1, Folder 23, Articles reprints co-authored by Sara Danziger, Re: gynecology subjects 1953, 1955–1957,
Date: 1953, 1955–1957, 1965, 1967.
- Series: IV. Memorabilia 7 folders
- Box 5, Folder 5, A Program of Four Plays Given By the Theatre Guild at the Hollis Theatre in Boston,
Scope and Contents: A souvenir program for plays staged "under the Auspices of the Free Hospital for Women"
as a fundraiser. In addition to advertisements, show, and cast information, it contains
captioned pictures of various locations at the Free Hospital for Women.
- Box 5, Folder 8, Metal signs, "Ring for Elevator and Wait. Do Not Pull Rope. W. H. Baker" undated.
Black metal with white painted letters, 12" x 9." 2 copies.
- Box 5, Folder 9, Brass sign, "Private" undated. 11" x 5."
- Box 5, Folder 10, Brass sign, "Out Patient Department Hours 8:30 to 10 Week Days Only" undated. 13" x 11.25."