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History of Insulin Exhibition to Feature Joslin Artifacts

NYHS representatives visit Joslin

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Early days at the Joslin Clinic will be showcased in a “history of insulin” exhibition at the New York Historical Society (NYHS) in New York City, beginning October 5th.

“Breakthrough: The Dramatic Story of the Discovery of Insulin” will cover the exciting period that began with the 1921 discovery of insulin. The exhibition will explore “the roles of science, government, higher education and industry in developing and distributing a life-saving drug and will bring to life the personalities who discovered insulin and raced to bring it to the world,” according to NYHS. It also will include recent developments in diabetes demographics, research and treatment.

The exhibition is done in collaboration with Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle, by Arthur Ainsberg and Thea Cooper.

Ainsberg visited Joslin’s Marble Library to examine the papers of Elliott P. Joslin while researching his book, which will be published in September. “It would have been impossible to write a book about the history of diabetes and the discovery of insulin without paying heed to Dr. Joslin,” notes Megan Beatie, the book’s publicist.

Last month, representatives from the NYHS came to Joslin to meet with Dr. Donald Barnett and Rachel Joslin Whitehouse of the Joslin Historical Committee, to talk about about accessing documents and artifacts for the exhibition. (In the photo above, Dr. Barnett and Ms. Whitehouse are on the left, and Dr. Kenneth Quickel is second from right.)

Among the many items they decided to borrow were letters between Dr. Joslin and his early patients. Also now on loan is a set of cartoons drawn by a Joslin patient in the 1930s. “It illustrates, with humor, the encounters with doctors and the public about personal maintenance for diabetes,” explains Dr. Barnett. “It points to the heavy responsibility that insulin placed on the patient, family and manager in the workplace.”

“We hope visitors to "Breakthrough" will gain a deeper understanding of the nature and treatment of diabetes,” states Dr. Louise Mirrer, president of NYHS. “We also hope they will learn how the events of 90 years ago still resonate today.”

NYHS representatives visit Joslin

Page last updated: December 20, 2014