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Thomas Dwight M.D. LL.D

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THOMAS DWIGHT, M.D., LL.D.
Parkman Professor of Anatomy, Harvard Medical School
-Harvard University suffered a great loss in the death of Professor
Dwight which occurred at his summer home a t Nahant, Massachusetts,
on September 8, 1911, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. At the time
of his death he had completed a career of nearly forty years as a n investigator and teacher of anatomy, and during the last twenty-eight had
held the Parkman Professorship, having succeeded the late Professor
Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1883. For the last two years he suffered
from a n incurable disease, but far from being discouraged kept continuously a t work in his department and gave practically all his regular lectures. His courage and cheerfulness never failed him during this distressing period and he was able to show in a way most satisfactory to himself and his colleagues what a man can accomplish in spite of physical
suffering and an impending sentence of death. His abilities as a lecturer appeared to the best possible advantage during the term of 1910-11,
in the last course he was to give, and at the same time he was able to
add several valuable contributions to his work on osteology, that part
of anatomical science which chiefly appealed to him, and in which he
showed his best work as a scientist. Dr. Dwight’s strong religious faith
served him in good stead during this period of trial, but in addition to
that source of comfort his own courage was above all praise, and enabled
him t o continue his work until the very end of his life.
Professor Dwight was born in Boston in 1843. As a very young boy
he was taken abroad by his parents, making his first voyage in a sailing ship, and spent some years in Paris where he attended school. On
his return home he completed his education in Boston and entered
Harvard College with the class of 1866. He did not complete his college course, but left early and entering the Harvard Medical School
obtained his degree of doctor of medicine in 1867. After leaving the
Medical School he spent several years of study in Europe. He intended
t o engage in the active practice of his profession and attended the medical and surgical clinics of Berlin and Vienna, and also spent some time
in England. There he had the opportunity
. of. visiting Lister and hear531
532
THOMAS DWIGHT
ing from him personally the results of his investigations in antiseptic
surgery. His chief interest, however, was anatomical science and natural
history, and part of his time abroad was spent in that study under Rudinger at Munich. There he obtained his first knowledge and experience
of the use of frozen sections in anatomical work and was one of the first
to introduce this method into America. In 1869 he returned to America
and began practice in Boston and also in Nahant, his summer home.
He continued in active practice for a number of years, but retired eventually in order to devote himself entirely to anatomy. During his
active career as a practitioner he was surgeon to out-patients at the
Boston City Hospital from 1877 to 1880, and visiting-surgeon a t the
Carney Hospital from 1876 to 1883. I n 1883 he was appointed a member of the Board of Consultation of the Carney Hospital and acted as
President of the staff until his resignation in 1898.
I n 1872 he was made instructor in comparative anatomy at Harvard,
and in 1874 instructor in histology and gave also some instruction in
embryology. At this time he was offered the position of lecturer in
anatomy at the Medical School of Maine at Bowdoin, and taught there
until 1876, being Professor of Anatomy from 1873 to 1876. The course
a t Bowdoin began as a rule towards the end of February and consisted
of about sixty lectures each term, chieily on descriptive anatomy, but
including some topographical anatomy. In 1880 he was made instructor in topographical anatomy a t Harvkrd. I n the autumn of 1882 Dr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes resigned the Parkman Professorship of Anatomy,
having served for thirty-five years. He was a brilliant lecturer with
the ability of giving great interest to dry anatomical details by his powers
of description and his wealth of comparison and simile. The anatomical lectures for the remainder of that term were given by Dr. Dwight
and in 1883 he was appointed Parkman Professor of Anatomy.
Dr. Dwight was an excellent teacher and a strong, clear and forcible
lecturer. Under him the course to first-year students was strengthened
and expanded and a thorough course on regional and topographical
anatomy for second-year men was gradually built up. He took especial
interest in this advanced course and made it one of great practical value,
but owing t o changes in the curriculum this course had to be givenup
in 1903. This was a great disappointment to Dr. Dwight as he always
considered the course to represent his best efforts in teaching. In the
last few years he had developed a short course on X-ray anatomy which
was intended to give the students some idea of the use of the X-ray and
of the anatomical interpretations of X-ray plates. The course dealt
THOMAS DWIGHT
533
chiefly with the skeleton, but of late included some work in the head and
body cavities.
Dr. Dwight’s chief interest and his best anatomical work was in
the anatomy of the skeleton and the joints, and on the normal variations in the body. His study of variations was applied chiefly to the
spine and the hands and feet. For years he was engaged in making a
very valuable collection of human spines showing practically all possible
numerical variations of the ribs and of the vertebrae in different regions
and of fusions between different parts. The results of these researches
appeared in a memoir of the Boston Society of Natural History and in
contributions to other anatomical journals. He also studied and
described the abnormalities at the top of the spine which might cause
malpositions of the head and face. After completing his studies on variations of the spine he devoted himself to the same subject in the hand and
foot, and succeeded in obtaining a remarkable series of specimens showing the chief variations in the carpus and tarsus and including several
unique cases of variations in these regions. He was the first to find and
describe the subcapitatum as a separate and distinct element in both
hands. This was especially satisfactory to him as Pfitzner had
described the possibility of the separate existenceof this element, but had
never seen a case of it. In the foot he found two cases of an absolutely
new element, the intercuneiform bone, which had never before been
observed, and also two instances of the secondary cuboid bone. The
first of these occurred in one foot and only one previous case had been
seen by Schwalbe. The other occurred in both feet and was an unique
case. I n 1907 Dr. Dwight published aa atlas on thevariationsof the
bones of the hand and foot, based on the specimens in his collection and
on X-rays. He was accustomed of late years to have X-rays made of
all the hands and feet in the dissecting rooms and accumulated in this
way a valuable collection of plates showing their normal structure and
variations. He contributed the sections on bones and joints as well as
those on the gastro-pulmonary system and accessory organs of nutrition in Piersol’s anatomy. He made an extensive study extending over
several years on the size of the articular surfaces of the long bones as a
characteristic of sex, proving that the size of the articular ends were
smaller in the female, and could be used as a means of identification. He
was interested in the question of the estimation of height from the parts
of the skeleton and on the identification of the human skeleton, and was
able t o make a practical use of his observations in several medico-legal
cases. He wrote several articles on the general range and significance
534
THOMAS DWIGHT
of variations in the skeleton and also on the question of mutations. One
of his earliest publications was an atlas of the frozen sections of a child,
which were among the first frozen sections to be made in this country.
He always laid great stress on the importance of such sections in anatomical study and made many series for the department and for the
Museum. In addition to his work on the skeleton he wrote many other
papers on anatomical subjects, a list of which will be found a t the end
of this paper. He wrote several other monographs on subjects not
strictly anatomical. Among these were a biographical sketch of Sir
Richard Owen, a reminiscence of Dr. Holmes as a professor of anatomy,
papers on contortionists and right-handedness, and several others on
the methods of instruction in the Harvard Medical School, its policy
as to the increase in the number of professors and on changes in its
medical curriculum.
Dr. Dwight devoted much of his time to the development of the
anatomical part of the Warren Museum in the Medical School. It
was his hope to be able to arrange the anatomical specimens so as to
show the normal variations of all parts of the body. The osteological
collection was completed in this manner and thanks to his efforts is very
comprehensive and in many respects unique. He had done much
t o develop and arrange the other parts of the anatomical museum along
the same lines, but was unable to complete them. His collection of
corrosions and frozen sections was, however, very extensive and he had
made much progress with variations of the large vessels, the kidneys
and the joints. Under his supervision enlarged papier mache models
of the skeleton and abdominal viscera were constructed which have
proved of great value in teaching. He was very proud of the Museum
and always impressed on his classes the practical value of a museum for
the study and teaching of anatomy.
Dr. Dwight gave two courses of lectures at the Lowell Institute a t
Boston-ane in 1884 on the mechanism of bone and muscle and another
in 1889 on the significance of variations in the human body. From 1898
t o 1908 he was a trustee of the Boston Public Library and gave freely
of his time to aid in its development. He was much interested in that
part of the library devoted to Catholic books and literature and the
expansion of this department was due chiefly to*his efforts. He was for
many years a member of the Boston Society of Natural History and
several of his papers appeared in the publications of this society. He
did much work at one time in arranging and developing its osteological
collections. He was president of the Association of American Anatom-
THOMAS DWIGHT
535
ists in 1894, and was also one of the original members of the editorial
board of the American Journal of Anatomy and held this position until
his death. From 1873 to 1878 he was an editor of the Boston Medical
and Surgical Journal. Besides the Association of American Anatomists,
he was a member of the American Society of Naturalists, Fellow of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the St. Thomas
Aquinas Academy of Philosophy and Medicine of Rome, a n honorary
member of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, a member of the American Medical Association, and a former member of the
Massachusetts Medical Society and several other medical societies in
Boston. I n 1889 he received the degree of LL.D. from Georgetown
University.
I n addition to his work in the Medical School, Dr. Dwight took a n
active part in the affairs of the Catholic church of which he was a member, and was especially interested in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
He joined the Holy Cross Conference in 1881, became its vice-president
in 1884 and president in 1887. This position he resigned in 1892, but
continued t o remain- a member. He was chosen president of the Central and Particular Councils of Boston in 1899 and held the former office
until his death. He devoted much of his time to his religious work and
t o this society, and did much to further its welfare and influence. Dr.
Dwight gave several addresses a t meetings of the St. Vincent de Paul
and other Catholic societies and conferences, notably one in 1908,
before the American Federation of Catholic Societies a t Boston on the
relations of the Church and science. He completed a book entitled
“Thoughts of a Catholic Anatomist” in the winter of 1911, and had the
satisfaction of seeing it published before his death. This book contained
his theories on evolution and his opinions on the relations between Catholic thought and science. His deep religious feeling and his devotion
and loyalty to his faith were his strongest characteristics and influenccd
t o a great degree his opinions and his scientific point of view.
The last two years of his life were passed under the handicap of an
incurable disease, in spite of which he gave two full courses of lectures
and added several monographs t o his work on the skeleton. He had
the good fortune to find the specimen of a free cuboides secundaiium
in one foot in the winter of 1910, and the unique specimen of that bone
as a free element in both feet the following winter. The paper he wrote
on the latter and another on irregular ossification in the transverse process and the rib a t the junction of neck and thorax were his last contributions t o anatomical science. He always looked forward t o meeting
536
THOMAS DWIGHT
his classes at the first exercise in their medical career and although in
the summer he knew he was failing, still hoped to meet this year's class
at least once in the fall. This opportunity was denied him and his
death occurred three weeks before the opening of the term. To all who
had the privilege of being associated with Professor Dwight in the Department of Anatomy his courage in persisting in his work while suffering great discomfort and at times much pain was a most inspiring example. His ability and determination to show no sign of weakness enabled
him to make the best possible use of the short time that was left t o him.
It gave him the satisfaction of continuing his work as a lecturer as well
as his contributions to anatomical science to the very'last, and was a
worthy climax t o his long and laborious career.
JOHNWARREN.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
1867 The intracranial circulation: an essay t o which was awarded the first
prize of the Boylston Medical Society in 1867. Cambridge, 28 pp., 1 plate.
1870 On the preservation of anatomical specimens. Annual meeting of the
Mass. Med. SOC.,May 24, 73-79.
1871 On two fowls with supernumerary legs. Proc. Boston SOC.Nat. Hist.,
Vol. 14, p. 76-80.
1872 Description of the whale, Balaenoptera musculus, t h a t came ashore in
Boston Harbor, Nov. 25, 1871. Proc. Boston SOC.Nat. Hist., Vol. 15, p. 26-27.
1872 Description of the whale (Balaenoptera musculus, Auct.) in the possession of the Society: with remarks on the classification of fin whales. Mem. Boston SOC.Nat. Hist., Vol. 2, p. 203-230, Pls. 6, 7.
1873 Structure and action of striated muscular fibre. Proc. SOC.Nat. Hist.,
XVI, p. 119-127, P1. 2.
1873. The action of the intercostal muscles. (Boston). 8 pp., 8vo.
1875 A rare form of monstrosity. Two cases of apparently true hermaphroditism. By. W. L. Richardson and Thomas Dwight. Bost. Med. and Surg. Journ.,
Sept. 30, 10 pp.
1876 The anatomy of the head. Boston.
1878 Remarks on the brain, illustrated b y the description of the brain of a
distinguished man. Proc. Am. Acad. Arts and Sci., XIII, 210-215.
1878 The identification of the human skeleton. A medico-legal study. Mass.
Med. SOC.,XII, 165-218.
1881 The sternum as an index of sex and age. Jour. Anat. and Phys., XV,
327-330.
1881 Frozen sections of a child. New York.
1886 The significance of bone structure. Mem. Bost. Soc. Nat. Hist., IV,
p. 1-15, P1. 1.
THOMAS DWIGHT
537
1887 The range of variation of the human shoulder-blade. Amer. Nat., July
627-638, Pls. 21, 22.
1887 Account of two spines with cervical ribs, one of which has a vertebra
suppressed, and absence of the anterior arch of the atlas. Jour. of Anat. and
Phys., X X I , 539-550, P1. 12.
1888 The bones of the leg considered as one apparatus. Boston, 18 pp.
1889 The anatomy of the contortionist. Scribner’s Magazine, V, 493-505.
1889 The significance of the third trochanter and of similar bony processes
in man. Jour. of Anat and Phys., XXIV, 61-68.
1890 The scope and teaching of human anatomy. Bost. Med. and Surg.
Journ., Oct. 9, 13 pp.
1890 The closure of the cranial sutures as a sign of age. Boston, 12 pp., 16mo.
1890 Joints and muscles of contortionists. Proc. Bost. SOC.Nat. Hist.,
Vol. 24, p. 355-357.
1891 Methods of teaching anatomy a t the Harvard Medical School; especially
corrosion preparations. Bost. Med. and Surg. Jour., 10 pp.
1891 What is right-handedness? Scribner’s Magazine, IX, 465476.
1892 Fossa praenasalis. Amer. Jour. Med. Sci., 8 pp.
1892 Fusion of hands. Mem. Bost. SOC.Nat. Hist., IV, 473486,P1.43-44.
1892 Fusion of hands. Anat. Anz., Dec., YIII, 61-71.
1893 Observations on the psoas parvus and pyramidalis. A study of variation. Proc. Amer. Philos. SOC.,XXXI, 117-123.
1893 Sir Richard Owen. Proc. Amer. Acad. of Arts and Sci., Vol. 28,418420.
1894 The range and significance of variation in the human skeleton. The
Shattuck lecture. Boston. 29 pp.
1894 Methods of estimating the height from parts of the skeleton. Med.
Record, XLVI, 293-296.
1894 A case of absence of the right kidney. Jour. Anat. and Phys., Oct.,
XXIX, 18-19.
1894 Statistics of variations, with remarks on the use of this method in
anthropology. Anat. Anz., Nov., X, 204-215.
1894 Morphology as a factor in the study of disease. Trans. Congress of Amer.
Physicians and Surgeons, 2 pp.
1885 The significance of anomalies. Amer. Nat., XXIX, 130-135.
1895 A case of anus vulvalis, with remarks on congenital communication of
the vulva and rectum. Amer. Jour. Med. Sci., CIX, 433436.
1895 Notes on the dissection and brain of the chimpanzee “Gumbo” (Troglodytes nigerJ. Mem. Bost. SOC.Nat. Hist., V, 31-52, P1. 7-10.
1895 Reminiscences of Dr. Holmes as a professor of anatomy. Scribner’s
Magazine, XVII, 121-128.
1896 Our contribution to civillization and to science. Science, N.S., 111,7577.
1896 Anatomy laws versus body snatching. The Forum, December, 493-502.
1897 A case of distortion of the aorta in Pott’s disease. Amer. Jour. Med.
Sci., 4 pp.
1897 Anatomische Litteratur in Amerika. Ergebnisse d. Anat. u. Entwicklungsgeschichte, VI, 471489.
1897 Notes on the duodenum and the pylorus. Journ. Anat. and Phys.,
XXXI, 516-521.
538
THOMAS DWIGHT
1897 The anatomy of the orbit and the appendages of the eye. System of
diseases of the eye. By.W. F. Norris, M.D., and C. A. Oliver, M.D., Philadelphia.
1898 The undue multiplication of professors. Harvard Graduates’ Magazine,
June, 485488.
1899 Recent additions to the Warren Museum of Harvard Medical School.
Bost. Jour. SOC. Med. Sci., 3 pp.
18W Remarkable skulls. Jour. Bost. SOC. Med. Sci., IV, 52-54.
1900 Distortion of the aorta in Pott’s disease. Amer. Journ. of Med. Sci.,
Oct., 6 pp.
1900 Absence of the inferior cava below the diaphragm. Jour. of Anat. and
Phys., XXXV, 7-20, P1. 1.
1901 Description of the human spines showing numerical variation in the Warren Museum of the Harvard Medical School. Mem. Bost. SOC. Nat. Hist.,
V, 237-312.
1901 Demonstration of a model of the abdominal viscera a t the annual meeting
of the Massachusetts Medical Society, June 2, 1901. Annals of Gynecology and
Pediatry, XIV, 6 pp.
1902 0 s intercuneiforme tarsi, 0 s paracuneiforme tarsi, Calcaneus secundarius.
Anat. Anz., XX, 465-472.
1903 The branches of the superior mesenteric artery to the jejunumand ileum.
Anat. Anz., XXIII, 184-186.
1903 An hour-glass stomach observed in situ. Amer. Jour. Med. 8ci., 10 pp.
1903 Problems of clinical anatomy. Mass. Med. SOC., June, 10 pp.
1903 A separate subcapitaturn in both hands. Anat. Anz., Dec. XXN, 253255.
1903 An example of a proposed arrangement of specimens of a single structure
for museums. Jour. Med. Research, IX, 324-328.
1904 A bony suprecondyloid foramen in man. With remarks about suprecondyloid and other processes from the lower end of the humerus. Amer. Jour.
of Anat., Vol. 3, 221-228, P1. 1.
1904 The diagnosis of anatomical anomalies causing rnalposition of the head
and distortion of the face. Jour. Med. Research, XII, 17-39, PI. 1-5.
1904 The size of the articular surfaces of the long bones as characteristic of
sex; an anthropological study. Amer. Jour. Anat., IV, 19-31, P1. 1-6.
1905 Mutations. Science, N.S., XXI, 52S532.
1906 Numerical variation in the human spine, with a statement concerning
priority. Anat. Anz., XXVIII, 33-40, 96-102.
1906 Sections on the skeleton including the joints, the gastropulmonary
system and the accessory organs of nutrition. Human Anatomy, edited by G. A.
Piersol. Philadelphia.
1906 The clinical significance of variations of wrist and ankle. Journ. of
Amer. Med. Assoc., XLVII, 252-255.
1907 Stylo-hyoid ossification. Annals of Surg., XLVI, 721-735.
1907 A clinical atlas. Variations of the bones of the hands and feet. Phila.,
etc.
1908 Review of :-Studien und forschungen zur menschen- und volkerkunde,
unter wissenschaftlicher leitung von Georg Buschan. 11. Die morphologische
THOMAS DWIGHT
539
abstammung des menschen. Kritische studie uber die neueren hypothesen;
von Dr. J. H. F. Kohlbrugge. Stuttgart, 1908,Anat. Rec., 11, 165-172.
1908 The Church and Science. An address before the American Federation
of Catholic societies at Boston, Aug. 9, 16 pp.
1909 Almost complete suppression of the cuneiform bones of a foot. An
instance of vital readjustment. Anat. Rec., 111, 530-533.
1909 A criticism of Pfitzner’s theory of the carpus and tarsus. Anat. Ans.,
XXXV, 366-370.
1909 I. Concomitant assimilation of the atlas and occiput with the manifestation of an occipital vertebra. 11. Notes on a hypochordal brace. Anat. Rec.,
111, 321-333.
1909 Extensive calcification of pleuritic exudation causing curvature of the
spine. Bost. Med. and Surg. Journ., XLX, p. 699.
1910 Description of a free cuboides secundarium, with remarks on that element,
and on the calcaneus secundarius. Anat. Anz., XXXVII, 218-224,1 PI.
1911 Free cuboides secundarium on both feet, with some further remarks on
Pfitzner’s theory. Aiat. Anz., XXXIX, 410414.
1911 Irregular ossifications in the space between the transverse process and
the rib a t the junction of the neck and thorax. Journ. Anat and Phys., July,
Vol. 45, p. 438-441.
1911 Thoughts of a Catholic anatomist. New York, Longmans, Green and
co. 243 pp.
BOOK REVIEWS
AN ANATOMICAL
GUIDE TO EXPERIMENTAL
RRSEARCHES
ON THE
RABBIT’SBRAIN. By Dr. C. Winkler and Dr. Ada Potter.
Amsterdam: W. Versluys. 1911.
This volume is an atlas of 40 cross sections through the brain of
the rabbit, drawn on a large scale and provided with a very complete
and accurate legend. On the figures are combined data from sections
prepared by the methods of Weigert-Pal, carmine, Nissl and Van
Gieson, and also from Marchi and von Gudden degeneration preparations. The work is designed primarily as a topographical guide for
experimental operations on the rabbit’s brain, but its field of usefulness will be much wider than this. As a point of departure for future
researches on the comparative anatomy of the brains of the lower
mammals, it will be invaluable.
C. J. H.
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