December 10: A Stage Show Leads Horace Wells to “Discover” Anesthesia

  On December 10, 1844, Hartford residents were treated to a special performance of famous showman and former medical student Gardner Colton’s “Laughing Gas Entertainment.” Colton had first encountered “laughing gas,” or nitrous oxide, while in medical school and soon found he could make quite a bit of money traveling the country demonstrating its hilarity-inducing…

December 2: The First Successful Permanent Artificial Heart

  Born in 1946, renowned medical scientist Robert Jarvik grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. He. developed an affinity for the medical field at an early age, having frequently accompanied his father, an accomplished physician, to work. As a young man, he became fascinated with the intricate tools his father used during surgeries, and invented a…

August 27: First Chemotherapy Treatment in the United States

  Today in 1942, physicians at Yale University made medical history as they administered the first use of intravenous chemotherapy as a cancer treatment in the United States.  This medical milestone was the culmination of  top-secret experiments aimed at defending against the horrors of mustard gas that a handful of Yale doctors conducted for the…

June 15: Honoring Gladys Tantaquidgeon, Mohegan Culture Keeper

  June 15, 1999 was officially declared “Gladys Tantaquidegon Day” by Connecticut Governor John Rowland in honor of the 100th birthday of a remarkable medicine woman who became one of the most influential cultural and spiritual leaders of the Mohegan Nation. Born on the Mohegan reservation in southeastern Connecticut in 1899, Gladys Iola Tantaquidegon was…

June 11: The Nation’s First Hospice Facility

  This day in Connecticut history marks an American medical history milestone: the green-lighting of the first hospice care facility in the United States and the realization of nurse Florence Wald’s lifelong dream of providing comprehensive, compassionate care for patients with terminal illnesses. Having spent significant time in hospitals herself as a child due to…

May 23: Vaccine to Prevent Polio Distributed Across Connecticut

  On this day in 1955, hundreds of schoolchildren in the town of Stafford Springs lined up to be vaccinated against polio, as part of a massive statewide effort to protect young Connecticans from getting the deadly childhood disease. Polio was the most feared childhood illness of the early 20th century.  An untreatable virus which…

May 2: Before Mr. Spock, There Was Doctor Spock.

  Today in 1903, pediatrician Benjamin Spock, the most influential doctor of the Baby Boomer generation, was born in New Haven.  A graduate of Yale University and Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Spock is considered to be the first doctor to apply Freudian psychoanalysis to child care. In 1946, Spock published The Common…

April 2: The Deadly Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 Hits Connecticut

  On this day in 1919, the medical paper “Complications of Influenza” was read to a desperately worried Hartford County Medical Society, who had been fighting a devastating global flu pandemic that had first reared its ugly head in Connecticut nearly twelve months before. This particular strain of flu, commonly referred to as “Spanish influenza,”…

March 8: Connecticut’s 19th Century Vampire Panic

  On this day in 1845, 24-year-old Lemuel Ray died in Jewett City, a borough in the rural Eastern Connecticut town of Griswold.  The young man, one of several children born to the Ray family, had died from tuberculosis, a disease then commonly known as “consumption” because of the way its victims would lose weight…

January 19: Connecticut’s First African-American Female Pharmacist

  Born in Hartford on January 19, 1886, young Anna Louise James was the eighth of eleven children born to Willis James, a former slave who had successfully escaped from a Virginia plantation via the Underground Railroad.  As a child, Anna’s family moved from Hartford to Old Saybrook, where she graduated high school and, as…

December 10: Horace Wells “Discovers” Anesthesia

  On December 10, 1844, Hartford residents were treated to a special performance of famous showman and former medical student Gardner Colton’s “Laughing Gas Entertainment.” Colton had first encountered “laughing gas,” or nitrous oxide, while in medical school and soon found he could make quite a bit of money traveling the country demonstrating its hilarity-inducing…

December 2: The First Successful Permanent Artificial Heart

  Born in 1946, renowned medical scientist Robert Jarvik grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, and developed an affinity for the medical field at an early age, having frequently accompanied his father, an accomplished physician, to work.   As a young man, he became fascinated with the intricate tools his father used during surgeries, and invented a…