Sunday, August 28, 2022

Freedom House Ambulance Service: A Conversation

Tuesday, April 4, 2023
6-7:15pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

~ Ravitch Lecture ~


Phil Hallen
President Emeritus, Maurice Falk Foundation

Matthew L. Edwards
, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine

In 1968, the Freedom House Ambulance Service began offering pre-hospital care to the Hill District and other neighborhoods in Pittsburgh where the police wouldn't even do a "scoop and run" to take patients to the hospital. These first paramedics not only provided transportation but also expert pre-hospital medical care that became a model for the nation. After Mr. Hallen describes the brief but important history of FHAS, clinician-historian Dr. Edwards will moderate a discussion of this seminal contribution of Black Americans to modern healthcare.

Emblem from http://freedomhousedoc.com/


This lecture is free and open to public. Please email cfreynoldsmhs@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link. Donations toward the speakers' honoraria are gratefully appreciated.

The C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society thanks the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law for its generous support of the continuing relevance of medical history in our world. 

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Edge of Silence: A History of Fanciful Deafness Fads

Tuesday, February 21, 2023
6-7:15pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

~ Department of Medicine Grand Rounds ~

Jaipreet Virdi, PhD
Assistant Professor of History, University of Delaware

Healing fads thrive on spectacle and fascination, fueled by the media’s obsession with sensational stories and charismatic celebrities undergoing extraordinary treatments. These fads promise a cure and promote the belief that no matter how implausible or dangerous, any cure for a stigmatized condition is worthwhile if it can promise hope. This talk focuses on the history of twentieth-century medical fads for deafness that obtained legitimacy within American medical circles, including magnetism, chiropractic adjustment, and osteopathy. By appealing to the emotional vulnerability of patients and offering optimism, these fads gained prominence—even when their benefits fell short of expected outcomes. Contact Tiffany Rocco (roccotp@upmc.edu) if you would like to attend.

In the evening, Professor Virdi will present "Negotiating Normalcy: Deafness Cures in American History," based on her book, Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History (University of Chicago, 2020). She is a specialist in the history of medicine, disability studies, and the history of technologies such as hearing aids. See her website for a Curriculum Vitae and current work.

The evening lecture is free and open to public. Please email cfreynoldsmhs@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link. Donations toward the speaker's honorarium are gratefully appreciated.

The C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society thanks the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law for its generous support of the continuing relevance of medical history in our world. 

The Events Surrounding the Death of Mozart

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
6-7:15pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Eugene Meyers, MD
Distinguished Professor and Emeritus Chair, Otolaryngology, Dental Medicine, & OMFS, University of Pittsburgh
AND President of Pittsburgh Festival Opera

Following the untimely death of the famous Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the age of 35 (1756-1791), doctors have been obsessed with determining what caused his death. At last count there were 130 postmortem diagnoses in the medical literature. A week after Mozart's death, a Berlin newspaper falsely reported that he had been poisoned. This notion that Antonio Salieri (1750-1835), the Court composer, was jealous of Mozart's superior musical output and poisoned him was further promoted by the wonderful movie Amadeus (1984).* My lecture will recount a bit of Mozart's life and include excerpts of his music played by pianist Michael Hammer, but the primary focus will be about the events surrounding his death. I hope will absolve Salieri of poisoning Mozart.

This lecture is free and open to public. Please email cfreynoldsmhs@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link. Donations toward the speaker's honorarium are gratefully appreciated.

* The movie is based on a play by Peter Shaffer (1979), which is based on an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1897), which is based on a play by Alexander Pushkin (1830).

The C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society thanks the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law for its generous support of the continuing relevance of medical history in our world. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
6-7:15pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

~ Sylvan E. Stool Memorial Lecture ~

Kylie M. Smith, BA, PhD
Associate Professor and Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing & the Humanities
at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
AND Associate Faculty in Department of History, Emory University

Psychiatric hospitals in the United States have always functioned as spaces of both custody and care. In the mid 20th century legislation was passed in an attempt to improve conditions and treatment practices for patients, but these developments were delayed in the South due to an insistence on racial segregation. In this talk, I draw on extensive archival sources from my book in progress to show the ways that Southern psychiatric hospitals in the mid twentieth century had become home to many thousands of Black patients with mental and physical disability, where treatment and care was custodial at best, violent and abusive at worst. Yet these hospitals were also the scene of important Civil Rights activism in the 1960s which revealed the ways that psychiatry functioned as a tool of white supremacy. This activism led to the end of segregation, but could not fix the racism that underpins the provision of mental health and disability care today. 

This project is funded by the G13 Grant from the National Library of Medicine and will be published by UNC Press in 2024.

This lecture is free and open to public. Please email cfreynoldsmhs@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link. Donations toward the speaker's honorarium are gratefully appreciated.

The C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society thanks the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law for its generous support of the continuing relevance of medical history in our world.


Image is a colored wood engraving of a large, old-fashioned white building with many windows set behind a grassy lawn with trees. An American flag flies from the roof in a blue sky with white clouds. Two women with hoop skirts and parasols walk in the foreground. It is labeled "Bloomingdale Asylum (Lunatic). / A Department of the New York Hospital." Bloomingdale operated 1821-1899. Image courtesy Wellcome Images.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Rachel Carson: A Pioneer for Science-based Policy Connecting Environment and Health

Tuesday, September 20, 2022
6-7:15pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

~ University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health Lecture ~

Patricia DeMarco, PhD
Senior Scholar and Adjunct Faculty, Chatham University
AND Vice President of the Forest Hills Borough Council

In one of the last public speeches of her life, Rachel Carson addressed the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Permanente Medical Group in San Francisco. Her thoughts on that occasion resonate today with even more clarity, as much that she feared in 1963 has become our reality. In that speech “On the Pollution of Our Environment” she said, “In spite of the truly marvelous inventiveness of the human brain, we are beginning to wonder whether our power to change the face of nature should not have been tempered with wisdom, for our own good, and with a greater sense of responsibility for the welfare of generations to come.” Carson used her knowledge of science and her early understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things to advocate for policy based on science. The challenges we are facing today can be addressed by recognizing that the laws of Nature are not negotiable. We must adjust our laws and our ways of interacting with the living earth and each other to align more closely to accommodate the laws of chemistry, physics, physiology, and ecology. 

Dr. Demarco is the author of Pathways to Our Sustainable Future – A Global Perspective from Pittsburgh (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017). See her website for a Curriculum Vitae and current work.

Donations toward the speaker's honorarium are gratefully appreciated.

The C.F. Reynolds Medical History Society thanks the University of Pittsburgh Center for Bioethics and Health Law for its generous support of the continuing relevance of medical history in our world. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Save the Date(s)!


The academic year kicks off on Tuesday, September 20 with a history of public health lecture

Save November 1 for the Annual Sylvan Stool lecture

January 24 will feature a local Pittsburgh lecturer and the Business Meeting

Dr. Jaipreet Virdi's talks on her book _Hearing Happiness_ have been rescheduled for February 21

Hold April 4 for the Annual Ravitch lecture, at which we anticipate a special guest


The Renaissance-style images inspired by Hieronymus Bosch are by Dutch illustrator Madeleine Kuijper; it won a Wellcome Images Award in 2017.

Monday, March 28, 2022

The Making of an Anesthesiologist


Tuesday, April 5, 2022, 6-7:15pm Eastern
~ Annual Ravitch Lecture ~
"Journey to Medicine"
William Simmons, MD

Associate Professor and Diversity Director for Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dr. Simmons will describe his history-making life and career, from being the first in his family to attend college to excelling as one of the few Black physicians in his chosen fields of pediatrics and anesthesiology to giving back as a community leader in Pittsburgh. Here is the recording.

Image: Early inhaler for ether anaesthesia, London, England, 1847-1. Science Museum, London. Wellcome Images (CC BY 4.0)