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H MS c425

Myerson, Abraham, 1881-1948. Papers and Family Research Records, 1908-2013 (inclusive), 1921-1974 (bulk): Finding Aid.

Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

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Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)

© President and Fellows of Harvard College


Processing of the Abraham Myerson Papers and Family Research Records was funded by the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine's Karl Gustav Jung Fund for the History of Psychiatry.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: H MS c425
Repository: Center for the History of Medicine (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine)
Title: Abraham Myerson papers and family research records,
Date(s): 1908-2013 (inclusive),
Date(s): 1921-1974 (bulk).
Quantity: 1 collection (3.25 cubic feet in 3 records center cartons and 1 flat oversize box.)
Language of materials: Papers are in English.
Abstract: The Abraham Myerson Papers and Family Research Records, 1908-2013 (inclusive), 1921-1974 (bulk), are primarily the product of Abraham Myerson's professional, research, and publishing activities over the course of his career as a neurologist, practicing psychiatrist, and author in Boston, Massachusetts. The papers are arranged in two series: I. Abraham Myerson Papers, 1908-2013, undated; and II. Family Research Records, 1925-2013.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

  • Accession number 2014-050.
  • Processing Information:

    Processed by Hanna Clutterbuck and Max Goldberg, 2014 June.
    Processing staff at the Center for the History of Medicine analyzed, arranged, and described the papers, and created a finding aid to increase researcher access. Items were rehoused and, where necessary, photocopied to acid-free paper. Folder titles were transcribed from the originals when available. Photographs have been removed from their frames and stored flat. All books and bound volumes were retained with the collection. The collection includes an extremely fragile rolled photograph; the photograph could not be flattened for foldering and was left as found in Box 4. A CD containing Myerson family history has been imaged and retained as an electronic duplicate; the original CD remains with the collection in Box 3.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    Access requires advance notice. Consult Public Services for further information.
    Access to electronic records in the collection (as found in Series II) is premised on the availability of a computer station, requisite software, and/or the ability of Public Services staff to review and/or print out records of interest in advance of an on-site visit. Please consult Public Services for more information.
    The Papers are stored offsite. Researchers are advised to contact Public Services for more information concerning retrieval of material.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    The Harvard Medical Library does not hold copyright on all the materials in the collection. Requests for permission to publish material from the collection should be directed to Public Services. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from Public Services are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

    Preferred Citation:

    Abraham Myerson Papers and Family Research Records, 1908-2013 (inclusive), 1921-1947 (bulk). H MS c425. Harvard Medical Library, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

    Biographical Notes

    Abraham Myerson (1881-1948), M.D., 1908, Tufts Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, was Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, Chair of the Department of Neurology at Tufts Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, Director of Research at the Boston State Hospital, Massachusetts, Clinical Director and Pathologist at Taunton State Hospital, Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts State Forensic Examiner. He supported the use of electro-shock therapy as a psychiatric treatment, and was involved in the early trials of Benzedrine.
    Abraham Myerson was born in Lithuania on 23 November 1881 to Morris J. Myerson (born 1851) and Sophie Myerson (born 1851). The Myerson family moved to the United States in 1887, spending a brief time in Connecticut before moving to Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from high school in 1898. He completed two years at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York, before transferring to Tufts Medical School to complete his medical degree. While at Tufts, Myerson worked with Morton Prince (1854-1929), one of the first generation of American psychiatric specialists. After graduating with his M.D. in 1908, he opened a medical office in Boston and served as Assistant Physician in Neurology at the Boston City Hospital, Massachusetts, for two years. During this time, he also worked six months in the laboratory of Elmer Ernest Southard (1876-1920) at Harvard Medical School. Myerson then moved to Missouri for a residency at the Alexian Brothers Hospital, St. Louis, during which he also served as Instructor in Neurology at St. Louis University. Returning to Boston in 1912, Myerson joined the first group of residents at the new Psychopathic Department of the Boston State Hospital, along with fellow residents Myrtelle Canavan (1879-1953) and Harry Solomon (1889-1982). He served as Clinical Director and Pathologist at Taunton State Hospital from 1913 to 1917 and Director of Research at the Boston State Hospital from 1927 to 1940. He held the Chairmanship of the Department of Neurology at Tufts Medical School, originally created by Morton Prince, from 1921 through 1940; likewise, in 1935, he was appointed Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and held the position through 1940. Myerson was also the Massachusetts State Forensic Examiner for eight years, testifying at the Sacco and Vanzetti trial in 1921 and at the Millen-Faber trial in 1934.
    Myerson wrote and published widely in both professional journals and lay publications, seeking to simplify and spread scientific concepts to a popular audience. He supported the use of electro-shock therapy as a psychiatric treatment, and was involved in the early trials of Benzedrine. He was a member of several professional organizations, including: the American Psychiatric Association; the American Neurological Association; the Greater Boston Medical Society; the American Psychopathological Society; the Advisory Council for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease for the United States Public Health Service; and the Mental Hygiene Society. He authored ten books, including The Nervous Housewife (1920), The Foundations of Personality (1921), The Inheritance of Mental Disease (1925), and Speaking of Man (1950).
    Myerson married Dorothy Marion Loman (born 1890) in 1913; the couple had three children, Paul (born 1914), David, and Anne. In 1937, Myerson was diagnosed with a progressive form of arteriosclerotic cardiac disease, which he documented in his article, As the Heart Slows Down. He died on 3 September 1948, survived by his wife and all three children.

    Series and Subseries in the Collection

    Scope and Content

    The Abraham Myerson Papers and Family Research Records, 1908-2013 (inclusive), 1921-1974 (bulk), are primarily the product of Abraham Myerson's professional, research, and publishing activities over the course of his career as a neurologist, practicing psychiatrist, and author in Boston, Massachusetts. The papers are arranged in two series: I. Abraham Myerson Papers, 1908-2013, undated; and II. Family Research Records, 1925-2013.
    The Abraham Myerson Papers (Series I) constitutes the bulk of the collection, and consists of: manuscript drafts, reprints, and publication reviews for his writings and publications on a wide variety of topics including mental hygiene and electro-shock therapy; several examples of Myerson's fictional writings, including a short story and a play; a three-volume set of his collected writings and publications; psychological evaluation notes, reports, and other records related to Myerson's appearances as an expert witness in the Sacco-Vanzetti trial and the Millen-Faber trial; and correspondence related to his various psychiatric research interests. The papers also contain a small amount of papers related to Abraham Myerson and his family history, compiled by an unknown collector (Series II), including: correspondence of Myerson to his wife and children before his death; photographs; obituaries of Myerson; condolence letters sent to his family after his death; and family accounts composed by Myerson's brother and sister, Rose and Samuel; and a compact disk labeled "Family Histories."
    Papers and Records are entirely in English.

    Container List

    Additional Index Terms

    Drugs -- Testing.
    Myerson, Abraham, 1881-1948.
    Neurology.
    Psychiatry.
    Sacco, Nicola, 1891-1927.
    Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921.
    State hospitals -- Massachusetts.
    Vanzetti, Bartolomeo, 1888-1927.
    Clinical Trial
    Hospitals, State
    Neurology
    Psychiatry
    Black-and-white photographs.
    Compact discs.
    Evidence, Expert.
    Neurologists.
    Psychiatrists.
    Myerson, Abraham, 1881-1948.
    Sacco, Nicola, 1891-1927.
    Boston City Hospital.
    Boston State Hospital. Psychopathic Department.

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