Posted on September 11th, 2013 by Rachel
A casual reader of these blog posts might think we’ve grown obsessive about the Civil War. It is certainly true that our upcoming exhibit (member’s preview on October 12 at 7:30) has occupied many hours of staff and intern time – researching, writing, designing, fundraising, marketing and more. And I think all of us have gotten more engaged and intrigued by the topic as we have understood it better.
Still all of us have other interests. In my case, I am keeping one eye on ophthalmology. This is not only because I am scheduled to have cataract surgery next week, but also because of a prominent role of one particular family of eye doctors in our plans for the 2015 exhibit Jews, Health and Healing.
Jonas Friedenwald, the progenitor, 1875.
The Friedenwald family included three generations of Baltimore ophthalmologists whose work and interests influenced much more than the field of medicine. Dr. Aaron Friedenwald (1836-1902), Dr. Harry Friedenwald (1864-1950) and Dr. Jonas Stein Friedenwald (1897-1955). The progenitor of this medical dynasty was none other than the Jonas Friedenwald who served as one of the original Board members of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and led the faction that broke away to create Chizuk Amuno. It is a genuine American Jewish success story that this former umbrella mender and junk dealer would become the patriarch of generations of healers.
Dr. Harry Friedenwald
A special focus of the exhibit will be the middle generation – Dr. Harry Friedenwald. Harry, whose sesquicentennial is September 21st of next year, spent much of his career as a professor at the University of Maryland Medical School. He was a well-published scholar, completing some pioneering work on the connections between diabetes and eye disease. But the most important reason we have chosen to shine a light on Harry Friedenwald is for his work as a collector.
Diploma of medicine awarded to Lazarus de Mordis. Padua, 1699.
Potential loan from the Friedenwald Collection, National Library of Israel.
According to several sources, Harry was inspired by a lecture his father gave in 1897 entitled, “Jewish Physicians and the Contributions of the Jews to the Science of Medicine”. From that point forward, Harry began to acquire one of the largest collections of material on this topic ever assembled in the United States. His library included the codex of a 10th century Italian Jewish physician, Sabbato Donnolo, describing over 120 medicinal plants known at that time. There is also 15th century translation of the original Arabic manuscripts of the 9th century Jewish physician to the Caliph as well as 15th century Latin translations of the work of Maimonides. There are astronomical and astrological tables of Jewish origin from the early renaissance. It includes the writings of Francisco Lopez de Villalobos, the Jewish-born converso who served as court physician to King Ferdinand (and I’m sure this is just a coincidence) was one of the first authors to describe the causes of syphilis. And there is the writing of Jacob Mantino ben Samuel, a refugee from the Inquisition who became a physician to Pope Clement VII after nixing biblical nullification for the marriage of Henry VIII to Queen Catherine (you can bet I will be pursuing this story).
Baltimore People at Zionist Conference. Tannersville, New York – 1906 or 1907. Harry Friedenwald is located in the center of the middle row.
So what happened to Harry’s collection? All three generations of Friedenwald doctors were active in the Zionist movements of their times. Harry helped establish the medical care system in Palestine during the period just before World War I. In 1948, Harry gave his entire collection of manuscripts to the newly formed National Library of Israel.
As we began to prepare for our exhibit we contacted the Library. They have given us agreement in principle to return a small number of works to Baltimore for inclusion in this project. We couldn’t be more excited.
The extraordinary story of the Friedenwalds and the collection also has us thinking about the “why” behind the Jewish connection with the healing arts and sciences, not only physicians, but pharmacists, nurses, medical researchers, etc. So we would like to hear your stories. If you or someone you are close too is in the healing professions we’d like to learn about how that choice of occupation was made – what role did parental or family expectations, financial needs, Jewish learning or other factors play in this decision. If you have a story you’d like to share send us a note. You can respond to this blog post or send a note to email@example.com.
We now take you back to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War…which is still in progress.
A blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts by Marvin, click here.
Posted on July 16th, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by intern Kathy Harper. To read more posts by Kathy and other interns, click here.
I’m going into my seventh week as the Photo Archives Intern here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. While most of my duties have pertained to the photograph archives, I’ve also done extra things for my intern duties, including helping out with the upcoming exhibit on Jews, Health and Healing by transcribing oral histories.
Hard at work, transcribing my oral history.
The oral history that I transcribed was for Dr. Arnall Patz (1920-2010), a very important figure in medicine, who not only was Jewish, but also spent his adulthood in Baltimore (after growing up in Georgia). He originally came to Baltimore for an internship at the Sinai Hospital in 1945. While in the city, he met his future wife, Ellen, and they wed five years later in 1950. As his career blossomed, he contributed many things to the field of medicine, including building one of the first lasers used in ophthalmology, and also playing a significant role in the prevention of blindness in premature babies. In 2004 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.
In his early years of medicine Dr. Patz was assigned to various hospitals in the Maryland/D.C./Virginia region, and worked in different sections, ranging from cardiology to venereal disease. From the beginning, however, he developed an interest in pediatrics and ophthalmology. Specifically, he was interested in the blindness of premature babies. At the time, the standard of care for such infants was to give them high amounts of oxygen for weeks. This was thought to be beneficial, but in fact was causing major damage as the oxygen led to overgrowth of blood vessels in the eye which caused permanent damage to the retina. Dr. Patz applied for a research grant to conduct a study in regards to the oxygen given to the premature infants, which was rejected; it was considered to be unethical to restrict the oxygen in babies, and his theory was considered highly controversial. However, the “total rejection” (as Dr. Patz described it in his oral history) did not deter him, and instead he borrowed some money from his brother and conducted the study. At a time when nobody was really doing controlled studies, his was one of the first major clinical trials in American medicine. The study was small, but showed an overwhelming difference between the two groups of infants, the ones who received high amounts of oxygen and those who did not. With the help of Dr. V. Everett Kinsey, he was able to have a national study to further support his findings.
Dr. Patz, right, and Dr. Kinsey with Helen Keller in 1956, receiving a Lasker Award for their research. Image courtesy of The New York Times.
Dr. Patz was an important contributor to the field of medicine, listening to his oral history was very interesting, as was the additional readings I did on him in preparation for this blog post. With only three more weeks left in my internship I’m glad I had the opportunity to find out about him and I encourage anyone who is interested to check out the New York Times article on him that I referenced.
Altman, Lawrence. “Arnall Patz, a Doctor Who Prevented Blindness, Is Dead at 89.” New York Times 15 Mar 2010, n. pag. Web. 16 Jul. 2013. <Arnall Patz, a Doctor Who Prevented Blindness, Is Dead at 89>.
Posted on July 12th, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by Exhibitions Intern Elaine Hall. Elaine is working with curator Karen Falk on the Jews, Health and Healing exhibition currently in development. To read more posts by Elaine and our other interns, click here.
At the end of the twentieth century it is estimated that 2% of the American population was Jewish and yet 12-15% of the doctors were Jewish! Early in the twentieth century that number was even higher. Similarly, 20% of Nobel Prize winners in physiology and medicine have been Jewish! Baltimore was no exception to this phenomenon. Baltimore has been called home by numerous Jewish doctors, many of whom made great contributions to medicine. Besides practicing great medicine, Jews also have a history of scientific invention and discovery in America, and in Baltimore. Here are just a few:
Dr. Robert Austrian (1916-2007) was born and raised in Baltimore and graduated from JHU medical school in 1909. He was particularly interested in infectious diseases and was important in early research that helped develop two pneumococcal vaccines that ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives. He was also physician-in-chief of Sinai Hospital from 1921-1944.
1930’s microscope used by Dr. Melvin Borden at the University of Maryland. JMM 1996.105.1a
Dr. Robert Fischell (1929-2011) was a physicist who dedicated most of his life to biomedical engineering. He began at JHU in the space department but later moved into medical devices. He holds numerous patents involved with the rechargeable pacemakers, implantable heart defibrillator, implantable insulin pump, coronary stints, and feedback systems for early warning of seizures and heart attacks, among other.
Dr. Bernard Mark Berngatt studying in his room (1907). A lot of time and effort goes into being a great doctor and a great scientist.
Dr. Bessie Moses (1893-1965) was an OB-GYN who was extremely important in the expansion of access to birth control in America. She was the first female intern in obstetrics at John’s Hopkins University and in conjunction with JHU she opened the first birth control clinic in Baltimore in 1927. She is remembered for how much her patients trusted her and how much she cared about them.
Jonas Friedenwald, a big name in Baltimore optometry, at his microscope.
Daniel Nathans (1928-1999) moved to Baltimore in the mid-1960’s and begun running a division of genetics at John’s Hopkins. Eventually, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Werner Arber and Hamilton O. Smith for the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application in molecular genetics.
“All Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine.” NobelPrize.org.
Altman, Lawrence. “Robert Austrian, 90, Dies; Developed Major Vaccine.” The New York Times: Health. N.p., 30 Mar. 2007.
“Bessie Moses.” Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. Maryland State Archives, 2001. Web. 10 July 2013.
Gray, Beverly. “Is There a ‘Docta’ in the House?” JewishJournal.com. N.p., 4 Sept. 2003. Web.
“Jewish Biographies: Nobel Prize Laureates.” Jewish Virtual Library.
“Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.” Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
Neel, Eric. “Technology for Humanity: Robert Fischell.” Discover Magazine.