J. W. Farlow Collection, 1870-1916. WAM 12632, 22214-22226, 22227.001-.011.

Dublin Core


J. W. Farlow Collection, 1870-1916. WAM 12632, 22214-22226, 22227.001-.011.


Surgical Instruments
Farlow, John Woodford, 1853-1937


John Woodford Farlow was born in Boston in 1853 to John Smith Farlow (1817-1890), a prominent Boston merchant, and Nancy Wight (Blanchard) Farlow (1816-1895). He received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1874, and then an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1877. Farlow completed an internship at the Boston Lying-In Hospital and then traveled Europe for two years after receiving his degree. He began a general practice in Boston in 1880, but soon began to specialize in the field of laryngology. He quickly became associated with the Boston Dispensary, the Staniford Street Dispensary, and the Free Dispensary for Diseases of Women. He joined the Harvard Medical School faculty in 1892, where he served as Clinical Instructor of Laryngology until 1906. During this time he became associated with the Carney Hospital, where he founded a department for Diseases of the Nose and Throat, the Boston City Hospital, and the Free Home for Consumptives. Towards the end of his career, he became the Consulting Physician for Diseases of the Throat at Boston Dispensary. He retired from practicing medicine in 1916. Farlow invented and improved upon several laryngology instruments during his career, including the Farlow snare and Farlow punch in 1895. He was president of the American Laryngological Association in 1902. He also served as president of the Massachusetts Library Association and the Medical Historical Club of Boston. He was appointed librarian of the Boston Medical Library in 1905 but acted primarily in an assistant role until his retirement from practice in 1916. He then dedicated most of his time to the Boston Medical Library. In 1918 he published “The History of the Boston Medical Library”, and wrote the majority of “The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Boston Medical Library” in 1926. Farlow died of an illness at his summer home in Manchester in 1937.

This collection of laryngology instruments was owned and used by Dr. John Woodford Farlow. Most of the objects in this collection were used for tonsillectomy, which was a very common procedure at the time that Farlow was working. The collection includes a few instruments that Farlow designed himself.

Collection Items

View all 25 items

Collection Tree