Historical Collection in Radiology
One of the Countway Library’s recent collecting initiatives was sponsored by Dr. Lloyd Elmer Hawes (1912-1988), radiologist-in-chief at the Faulkner Hospital and president and historian of the New England Roentgen Ray Society. In the 1960s, while preparing lectures on the history of radiology, Dr. Hawes discovered the Countway lacked many key monographs on the subject. In conjunction with the library staff, he developed a plan to compile comprehensive bibliographic information on radiology and some of its allied subjects, including electricity and physics. He then set about acquiring books and reprints with notable association inscriptions, photographs and other visual materials, including early specimen X-ray plates. Dr. Hawes had also amassed a rich personal collection of 1,000 books, manufacturer’s catalogs, manuscript material, and scientific apparatus relating to W. C. Röntgen’s discovery of the X-ray in 1895 and subsequent developments in that field. In 1969, he presented his collection to the Harvard Medical Library to form the cornerstone of the Historical Collection in Radiology. Lloyd E. Hawes held the position of Honorary Curator here at the Countway and continued to build the collection through the rest of his life.
Some of the notable items found in the Historical Collection in Radiology include early printings and editions of W. C. Röntgen’s Eine neue Art von Strahlen, the first publication on the X-ray, along with radiographic prints of Hand mit Ringen, the famous X-ray image of the hand of Röntgen’s wife, Bertha, and a radiograph of a gun barrel; a copy of James Clerk Maxwell’s A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism (1873), with the author’s manuscript annotations; letters of Marie Curie and a signed presentation copy of Pierre Curie’s student dissertation, Propriétés Magnétiques des Corps a Diverses Températures (1895); and the two extraordinary 1898 radiographic prints of the hands of Nicholas and Alexandra, the last Czars of Russia.