Deadly Medicine

Posted on March 19th, 2014 by


On March 13, I attended a program at the University of Maryland’s Health Sciences Library in conjunction with a traveling exhibition that the Library is hosting, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race. This exhibit, created by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, has been traveling throughout the country for several years. The exhibition explores the rise of eugenics in Nazi Germany and how the quest to create a master race resulted in a public campaign to rid society of “undesirables” including those with mental and physical disabilities as well as individuals who were considered members of inferior races, such as Jews.

The exhibition’s curator, Susan Bachrach, gave a lecture to a crowd of medical students, University of Maryland administrators and professors, and community members. Dr. Bachrach’s riveting talk included background on the history of the eugenics movement, both in Weimar Germany as well as in other countries including the US. Many in the audience were unaware of the fact that forced sterilization was legal in several states in the US in the first half of the 20th century. While Maryland did not have such a law, in one notable 1927 Supreme Court case, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the majority opinion upholding Virginia’s law in the 1927 case against Carrie Buck. (For more on this case, check out

Although the exhibit is difficult to view from the point of view of its deeply disturbing content and imagery, the subject matter is incredibly important and relevant for contemporary audiences especially in light of current debates on medical ethics. Dr. Bachrach’s lecture included video testimony from Holocaust survivors including siblings who were sent to Auschwitz where they were subjected to the notorious Dr. Mengele’s experiments on twins. Following this emotional testimony, it was hard to look at a photograph of Dr. Mengele in which he looks like a “normal” doctor going about his business. We so often think of the perpetuators of the Holocaust as evil monsters and it is difficult to grapple with the fact that their appearance does not always conform to this characterization.

The USHMM has created a virtual exhibit on their website that features more information as well as images.

workshop flyer

The JMM and BJC are co-sponsoring a teacher training workshop taking place at the University of Maryland’s Health Sciences Library on April 2. The program is open to educators of all backgrounds.

Deadly Medicine is on view through April 30.


A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Oral Histories: Dr. Arnall Patz

Posted on July 16th, 2013 by

Katharine HarperA 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.

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.

Dr. Arnall Patz with his Presidential Medal of Freedom award in 2004.” Image courtesy of The New York Times.

Dr. Arnall Patz with his Presidential Medal of Freedom award in 2004. Image courtesy of The New York Times.

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, 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 in jewish museum of maryland

Jewish Doctors!

Posted on July 12th, 2013 by

Elaine HallA 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.

cp 42013001

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.”

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? 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.






Posted in jewish museum of maryland

« Previous PageNext Page »