Rethinking Early Neurosurgery: The Harvey Cushing Collection
The work of Harvey Cushing, one of the founding fathers of modern neurosurgery, continues to draw attention from researchers world-wide, with articles and other works produced annually on the many aspects of Cushing’s research and the field of early neurosurgery. Cushing, a Yale undergraduate from the class of 1891, spent most of his career at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland and Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. The Cushing Center, which opened in 2010, brought renewed attention to the materials within Harvey Cushing’s collections, which include, beyond the Registry, over 200 boxes of archival material, made available through an online finding aid (http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.0160). The brains and tumors are being used in research again, including genetic sequencing of 20 specimens related to acromegaly, gigantism, and Cushing’s disease. Because of the renewed interest in Cushing’s research and work, and the massive nature of his collection, staff at the Medical Library and Cushing Center are working to document the 10-15,000 glass plate negatives that are part of the Registry. These negatives formed a major part of Cushing’s research, and information from the negatives is the linchpin connecting the brains with the patients and tumors depicted in the photographs. The photographs themselves are a visual portal into early neurosurgery, depicting the different methods Cushing used to gain access to tumors nestled in the brain, as well as an entryway into patient populations in the early 20th century. For this grant, the Library and Cushing Center is requesting funding for 2 students and equipment to assist in cataloging the glass-plate negatives, which will be made available over time, following HIPAA guidelines, through a larger database. The larger goal is to have approximately 2600 glass plate negatives cataloged by April 30th, constituting nearly a 1/4 to 1/3 of the larger collection.