Dr. Ida Henrietta Hyde, 1896, and Dr. Myrtelle May Canavan, 1923

Ida Henrietta Hyde in her laboratory at the University of Heidelberg, 1896
Ida Henrietta Hyde in her laboratory at the University of Heidelberg, 1896

Ida Henrietta Hyde (1857-1945) was a physiologist. She received her degree at the University of Heidelberg in 1896, she was only the third woman to obtain her doctorate.

In 1896, at Harvard Medical School, she worked under William Townsend Porter in the Department of Physiology where she was the first woman to do research at Harvard Medical School. In 1898, she obtained a position at the University of Kansas where she went on to found the Department of Physiology.

Dr. Hyde developed one of the first microelectrodes, and was the first woman admitted to the American Physiological Society.  

Myrtelle M. Canavan, M.D and Elmer Ernest Southard, M.D.

Myrtelle May Canavan (1879 – 1953) was a pathologist and neuropathologist, and was named Curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard Medical School in 1923, a position she held until 1945. She is credited with bringing intellectual control to the Warren Anatomical Museum collection through deaccessioning specimens in disrepair in addition to taking meticulous record of the collection.

 

While serving as Curator, Dr. Canavan held several other posts including: Associate Professor of Neuropathology at the Boston University School of Medicine; Assistant Pathologist at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Diseases; and Instructor of Neuropathology at the University of Vermont.

Poster of a criminal brain
Poster from "Brains of Feebleminded and Criminalist Persons", undated, from Myrtelle M. Canavan Papers, 1898-1945, GA 10.20

Dr. Canavan's neuropathology research focused on multiple sclerosis, brain disease, pathology of mental deficiency, and related medical cases. At the Second International Congress of Eugenics in 1921 at the American Museum of Natural History, Dr. Canavan displayed enlarged photographs of "Brains of Feebleminded and Criminalist Persons”. The subject of the poster was charged with breaking and entering. In her notes, Dr. Canavan recorded that the subject had normal parents and twelve siblings, two of which were abnormal.

Her collection is part of the Archives for Women in Medicine and available to researchers at the Center for the History of Medicine, and her work is explored in the exhibit The Stethoscope Sorority: Stories from the Archives for Women in Medicine.

Early Faculty
Dr. Ida Henrietta Hyde, 1896, and Dr. Myrtelle May Canavan, 1923