William L. Richardson Collection, 1867-1932. WAM 20208, 20210, 20213, 20251, 22228-22246.

Dublin Core


William L. Richardson Collection, 1867-1932. WAM 20208, 20210, 20213, 20251, 22228-22246.


Surgical Instruments
Boston Lying-in Hospital
Richardson, William Lambert, 1842-1932


William Lambert Richardson was born in Boston on September 6, 1842, to Jeffrey Richardson (1789-1879) and Julia Lambert (Brackett) Richardson (1812-1886). He graduated with an A.B. from Harvard College in 1864 and began immediately at Harvard Medical School. After graduating with an A.M. and M.D. in 1867, he continued his education in Vienna and Dublin. Upon his return to Boston in 1868 he began to practice medicine with a focus on obstetrics. He worked at many of the major hospitals around the city, including the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Children’s Hospital, and the Boston Dispensary. In 1871 he became an instructor in Obstetrics at Harvard Medical School. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1882 and full Professor in 1886. He served as Dean of the Medical School from 1893-1899, and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1899 until his retirement in 1907. Richardson is best known for his association with the Boston Lying-In Hospital. In 1873, Richardson felt that Boston required a maternity hospital, and revived the Boston Lying-In Hospital. The institution was located in the South End. It had been incorporated as a small maternity hospital in 1832 but closed due to a lack of support in 1857. The need for maternity care was evident as soon as the hospital re-opened its doors, and the number of patients continually increased. The building was remodeled and enlarged over time under Richardson’s direction. A training school for nurses was opened in 1888. In 1922, the hospital was moved to a new location on Longwood Avenue, very close to the Harvard Medical School. Richardson retired the same year. During his tenure with the hospital, 75,000 infants were delivered under its care and 291 physicians were trained in Obstetrics. Richardson was a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard from 1905 to 1915. He was a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of the American Gynecological Society. He was a member of the American Public Health Association and the Massachusetts Medical Society. Richardson also served for thirty years as treasurer of the Benevolent Society, an organization that assisted physicians and their families who were struggling financially. He was made Professor Emeritus at Harvard Medical School when he resigned in 1907, and President Emeritus of the Boston Lying-In Hospital in 1922. Upon his death, he endowed a Professorship of Obstetrics at Harvard Medical School. Richardson died on October 20, 1932 at his home in Back Bay.

This collection contains obstetric and gynecological instruments from the late 19th and early 20th century that belonged to Dr. William L. Richardson. Richardson's collection includes both diagnostic and surgical instruments. Many of the surgical instruments in this collection are destructive obstetrical instruments.

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