In 1980, a series of 10 videotaped oral histories were produced for the 50th Anniversary Meeting of The American Association of Neurological Surgeons. The histories were primarily of those who had trained with, or who had known, Harvey Cushing and other early neurosurgeons. Subsequently, the program was expanded to include additional neurosurgeons, neurologists, and individuals in the neurosciences both in North America and internationally.
Archives Committee members believe that it is important to document the biographies of eminent neuroscientists throughout the world who have made significant and critical contributions to the understanding and treatment of the normal and abnormal functions of the brain. These video oral histories afford the viewer an intimate opportunity to learn of a doctor's early education, of influential teachers, research activities, acquaintances, and friendships with outstanding physicians, surgeons, and scientists. Together, these "firsthand" accounts constitute an eye-witness history of the evolving neurosurgical specialty.
Non-neurosurgeons in the series include specialists in neurology, neuropathology, psychopharmacology, neurophthalmology, neuroradiology, visual physiology, otolaryngology, neurophysiology, and nuclear medicine. Non-physicians in the series include Cushing's medical artist, the founder of neuroscience nurse training, the engineer who designed the first shunt for hydrocephalus, and the medical archivist at Codman & Shurtleff.
The most popular film in the collection is Harvey Cushing's 2000th Verified Brain Tumor Operation which was filmed on April 15, 1931. (Click here to download Dr. Cushing's 2000th Brain Tumor Operation [18.7 MB].)
The procedure was photographed and edited by Walter W. Boyd, MD, and Richard U. Light, MD, and narrated by Dr. Light. It begins with Gilbert Horrax preparing the patient and continues through the conclusion of the surgery and a follow-up visit to the patient. As one of Dr. Cushing's last residents, Dr. Light was well qualified to tell this story and includes vignettes about Mildred Codding, Louise Eisenhardt, and "Adolph."
Although these oral history video-interviews are of interest to doctors today, it seems almost certain that in the future, they will provide a very personal, visible, and vivid record of important neuroscientists throughout the world. Imagine the importance a similar program would have to medicine today if there were video records preserved of prominent doctors and scientists of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The writings and other works of many doctors are often fundamental to the endeavors of doctors today, and of daily application to clinical practice. New work and discoveries have been initiated by scientists who have received their inspiration from their forerunners. The value of the personal influence of these forerunners in neuroscience upon doctors, university, and medical students, can be of great impact. The personal, and often intimate, portrayals of the pioneers included in this series can influence future medical discoveries.
The series includes interviews from doctors from many countries outside of North America including France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Nairobi, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, and the former USSR. In addition, interviewees tell stories of their medical education in many countries, education which often occurred under the stresses of war. Your comments on this series are invited.