The Park River nuisance as affecting the sanitary condition of Hartford.




Wolff, Arthur J., 1855-1936.


Journal : Reports of the Connecticut State Board of Health ; vol. vii.

New Haven : Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor, 1885.

Description : 155-217 p., [2 l.] pl. ; ill.: 6 phot. figs., 1 engr. ; 23 cm.

Photograph : collotypes, 6 (4 and 2) photomicrographs on 2 printed leafs.

Photographer : Dr. Arthur J. Wolff.

Subject : Body public — Bacterial diseases.

Notes :



The difficulty of obtaining satisfactory photographs under such high powers was very great, but I was very desirous of presenting such representations of the organisms as they existed, because of their greater accuracy than drawings would have been. My photographs were taken by the aid of the electric light; for the use of which I am under obligations to President Dunham and Manager French of the Hartford Electric Light Co., who kindly lent me an excellent arc light. By its means I was enabled to do away with the heliostat, and the necessity of working in the day-time, which are important considerations, while at the same time I obtained a copious, steady, brilliant source of light containing almost as much actinic power as direct sun-light, ready for use at any time, which is a great advantage over the latter, as in this time of the year a cloudless day, such as is appropriate for photo-micrography is exceptional.

A suitable condensing lens was used to concentrate the light upon the object, and as the light is under complete control the development and manipulations may be performed in the same room as the exposure of the plate, and thus the necessity for a special dark-room was avoided. These advantages will be apparent to every one who has had any extended experience in photomicrography, and are by no means small. Another great advantage which the electric light possesses over sunlight, is that no special means are necessary to separate the chemical from the heat-rays, which if used direct from the heliostat and concentrated upon the object would quickly destroy both the object and a valuable objective ; to avoid such an accident, the heat rays are arrested by passing the beam of light through a solution of ammonio-sulphate of copper which transmits the violet or actinic portion of the spectrum. All this needs special and very inconvenient apparatus, and materially adds to the difficulty of sunlight photography for microscopic purposes. There are a great many other complications to the use of sunlight which are entirely overcome by the use of the arc-light. Our photographs were made by central illumination. I have discovered that the methylviolet as a stain usually employed in bacterial investigations is entirely useless to color bacteria which are to be photographed by electric light, as the violet color is so intensely actinic that the bacteria are almost invariably over-exposed, hence I resorted to the use of bismark-brown, which answered admirably. The dry-plates used were the Nys's, which were found to be very rapid.— Pages 180-181.


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An eminent bacteriologist, Dr. Wolff organized the second municipal laboratory in the United States, following by six years the establishment of the first municipal laboratory in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1888. In addition to his sanitation studies, Wolff also served the medical legal concerns of his community by providing the microscopy and forensic evidence that lead to convictions in high profile murder trials, most notably the sensational trial of Amy Archer-Gilligan (18731962), the proprietress of a nursing home in Windsor, Connecticut, who poisoned her second husband and more than five residents under her care. The case became the inspiration for Joseph Kesselring's play, "Arsenic and old lace."

Dr. Wolff photographed professionally for his colleagues and was also an amateur member of the Hartford Camera Club where he entertained with lantern slides of photomicrographs.



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