Thirty-second annual report of the managers of the State Lunatic Asylum, Utica, N.Y., for the year 1874

Gray, John Perdue, 1825-1886.

Albany : Weed, Parsons and Company, Printers., 1875.

Description : 74 p.; ill., tab.s, engr.s ; 22 cm.

Subject : Asylum reports.

The following extract relates the clinical photographic activities at the Utica State Lunatic Asylum and appears on pages 26-29 of superintendent John P. Gray's annual report for the year 1874. Gray discusses the work of the institute's special pathologist, Edward Reynolds Hun, 1842-1880 and the man who replaced him during the previous year, Theodore Deecke, 1836-1905. Deecke was acknowledged for his expertise in photomicrography in Daniel Hack Tuke's book, The Insane in the United States and Canada (London: H. K. Lewis, 1885), and in a footnote on page 116 of this work is given a little information on Deecke's methods:

"As is well known, he has made sections of the brain and cord for microscopic examination and photography, covering whole areas of the actual size. He employs a very sharp knife 16 inches in length, to the ends of which upright handles are attached. With this formidable instrument he makes 400 sections to an inch, and can make as many as 500. The brain is hardened in alcohol and bichromate of ammonia. The amount of alcohol is gradually increased, and the fluid changed from week to week so long as it is turbid. Some brains require six or seven mouths' soaking. The brain is fixed in wax, or rather a composition of tallow, olive oil, and paraffin, in which material a brain was placed at the time of our visit. "

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Superintendent's report [extract].

The pathological investigations have been carried on successfully by Mr. Deecke, the pathologist, as will appear from the summary of work done, and to which I would refer. The results thus far have exceeded the expectations I entertained when I first proposed the systematic work in this direction in 1868. The success of Mr. Deecke in photomicrography, I cannot but believe, will result largely to the benefit of medical science, not only in revealing and giving more general circulation to the illustrations of pathological appearances, but in the study of anatomy and physiology. He has succeeded in taking such largely magnified representations of actual tissue as to enable the student to study the intimate structure of the brain, spinal cord, etc., with more facility and accuracy than under the best microscope. The magnified picture of the actual structure not only presents what is observed under the best microscope, but reveals, in distinct definition, what the eye is unable to detect even by the aid of the microscope. The great expense of photography would prevent any large distribution of such work, but under the heliographic process of Messrs. J. E. Osgood & Co., of Boston, Mass., perfect prints can be made from the largest negatives, at such a reasonable rate that they will be within the reach of professional men.

Before initiating these investigations, in 1858, I consulted a prominent photographer in Philadelphia, as to the probability of success in photographing pathological specimens, with but little encouragement. In visiting Washington, in 1864, and subsequently, after conferring with Dr. J. J. Woodward, U. 8. A., I was encouraged to hope for the attainment of results. In February, 1867, Dr. E. R. Hun, after due consideration, accepted my proposition to make certain microscopic investigations for the asylum, as preliminary to organized pathological work. In 1868, on my recommendation, Dr. Hun was appointed, by the board of managers, special pathologist to the asylum, an office not previously suggested in connection with any such institution, so far as I am aware. As stated in my report of that year, I had been long convinced that the extensive field afforded by this institution for pathological investigation should be cultivated more thoroughly than could possibly be done by the ordinary medical staff, considering the limited time allowed after the discharge of other duties. I realized the importance of employing a professional man of special attainments and skill in this department to make microscopic investigations in important cases where post mortem examinations could be obtained, also to test the value of the sphygmograph and dynamograph in throwing light upon the morbid physical condition of the insane, and such other pathological researches as might be deemed valuable to medical science and the public generally. Dr. Hun, who was eminently qualified for such duties, entered upon the work with zeal, and thus was laid the foundation for what has since been accomplished. Dr. J. B. Andrews, who, in June, 1867, was appointed an assistant, and who still remains at the head of my medical staff, entered into the spirit of the work, and went to Albany to acquire, with Dr. Hun and Mr. Haines, the necessary knowledge and practice to conduct the photographic work. He also undertook investigations with the sphygmograph, and has made some valuable contributions on this subject. March 2,1868, Dr. Hun had his first prepared specimen photographed for examination by the stereoscope, a case of cancer of the heart, and on September 12, 1868, Dr. Andrews prepared in the same manner a specimen of hæmatoma auris, which appeared in Dr. Hun's paper, published in the Journal of Insanity. The following year I brought the subject of making the office of special pathologist a part of the permanent staff, to the attention of Gov. Hoffman, who, after considering the facts and the results to be attained, which, were presented to him, recommended the measure in his annual message to the legislature, as follows:

"In connection with the subject of insanity, I respectfully suggest that you will give favorable consideration to the application which will be made on behalf of the State Asylum, at Utica, for authority to appoint a special pathologist, for the duty of making such investigations as seem to be now demanded by medical science. The reasons for this will be fully stated in the report of the superintendent of that institution, which will be transmitted to the legislature."

The managers, also, in their report for that year, say they "deem it of sufficient importance to make the office a permanent one, and recommended the legislature to confer the proper authority, and make the necessary appropriation. The law was passed without a dissenting vote. In July of that year, 1869, Dr. Heury D. Noyes, of New York, spent some time at the asylum in ophthalmoscopic examinations, and giving us instructions in the use of the instrument, and generally on the physiological and pathological appearances to be noted, in the eye, valuable to us all. In the spring of 1869, I again visited Washington with Dr. Hun to consult with Surgeon-General Barnes, and Assistant Surgeon J. J. Woodward, in regard to the necessary instruments and measures of carrying on these investigations. From these gentlemen we received valuable suggestions, and were enabled to examine the important work in the way of pathological inquiries progressing under the Army Medical Bureau. Through these gentlemen, and Surgeon Billings also, of the United States army, we secured the Powell and Leland microscope, of which Surgeon Billlings remarked in a letter announcing its transmission: "You will now have the most valuable and perfect instrument in the United States." During the year 1870, Dr. Hun made a most valuable and exhaustive examination into the condition of the urine of the insane, a summary of which was published in the twenty-eighth annual report. He also that year made a careful microscopic examination of thirteen autopsies of the brain, and three of the spinal cord, embracing four cases of mania, two of melancholia, two of dementia, and five of general paresis. In this work he also gave valuable practical instruction to the other members of the medical staff. In order to attain the highest success, it was necessary to follow the photo-micographic work, so admirably conducted by Dr. Woodward; and on again consulting him, as stated in a previous report, "he not only expressed great interest in the project, but gave valuable advice and aid in securing the instruments needed, and in the arrangement of the laboratory." This included all necessary arrangements for chemical and microscopic examinations and for photography and photo-micography.

Dr. Kempster, then my second assistant physician, and now the superintendent of the asylum at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, after devoting considerable time to the study and practical work of photography, succeeded in taking photo-micographic representations of brain tissue, some twenty-five negatives, as mentioned in my thirtieth report. Of these we had a number printed by Mr. Walter 0. North, a photographer, of Utica, from whom we had received many valuable suggestions, especially in the arrangements of the photographic room. The heliostat, of which I have spoken in my thirtieth report, was made by Mr. Charles Fasoldt, of Albany, and subsequently modified by his brother, Mr. John Fasoldt. This instrument is described in the monthly Microscopical Journal, vol. 1, No. 1, page 27. Mr. Fasoldt has since, under the direction of Mr. Deecke, made the instrument quite perfect . My report for 1872 contains a summary, by Dr. Hun, of the work accomplished by him during that year. In April, 1873, Dr. Hun resigned the position of special pathologist to engage in the general practice of his profession in Albany, though he has still maintained an interest in the progress of the work. At this time I was fortunately, able to secure the services of Mr. Deecke, a careful and enthusiastic student of pathology and a practical microscopist, to whose work I have already referred. His early and thorough training in chemistry and pharmacy, and his entire familiarity with the science of photography, have enabled him to do a large amount of admirable work, which will in time be given to the profession.

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