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Dr. Boylston Experiments with Smallpox Inoculation

June 26, 1721
June 26, 1721

Dr. Boylston Experiments with Smallpox Inoculation

On this day in 1721, Boston doctor Zabdiel Boylston took a gamble with his young son's life and inoculated him against smallpox. Puritan minister Cotton Mather had learned from one of his slaves that in...

Dr. Joslin Makes First Entry in Diabetic Ledger

August 2, 1893
August 2, 1893

Dr. Joslin Makes First Entry in Diabetic Ledger

On this day in 1893, a student at Harvard Medical School made the first entry in a ledger he would keep for the rest of his long career. Elliott Joslin examined a frail young Irish...

Harvard Awards Bowditch Honorary Degree

August 25, 1802
August 25, 1802

Harvard Awards Bowditch Honorary Degree

On this day in 1802, Harvard College awarded Nathaniel Bowditch an honorary Master's Degree. The Salem-born astronomer, mathematician, and navigator was almost entirely self-educated. His formal schooling ended when he was ten. While apprenticed to...

Maria Mitchell Discovers Comet

October 1, 1847
October 1, 1847

Maria Mitchell Discovers Comet

On this day in 1847, 29-year-old Maria Mitchell stood on the roof of her parent's Nantucket home, focusing her telescope on what she believed to be a faraway star. Suddenly she realized that the blurry...

Boston Doctors Use First Iron Lung

October 12, 1928
October 12, 1928

Boston Doctors Use First Iron Lung

On this day in 1928, Children's Hospital in Boston was the scene of the first use of an "iron lung." Developed by a young Harvard doctor, it was little more than a galvanized iron box,...

Boston Dentist Demonstrates Ether

October 16, 1846
October 16, 1846

Boston Dentist Demonstrates Ether

On this day in 1846, a crowd gathered in the operating theater at Massachusetts General Hospital. A Boston printer with a tumor on his jaw lay on the table. Curious and skeptical physicians and...

First Artificial Snow Falls on Mt. Greylock

November 13, 1946
November 13, 1946

First Artificial Snow Falls on Mt. Greylock

On this day in 1946, an airplane flew over Mount Greylock in western Massachusetts and seeded the clouds with super-cooled ice crystals. The first-ever artificially-produced snow melted before it hit the slopes below, but the...

The First Leprosy Patients Arrive on Penikese Island

November 18, 1905
November 18, 1905

The First Leprosy Patients Arrive on Penikese Island

On this day in 1905, five leprosy patients arrived on Penikese Island in Buzzard's Bay, the site of the first and only leprosarium in Massachusetts. Over the next 16 years, 36 victims of leprosy, or...

Henrietta Leavitt Buried in Cambridge

December 14, 1921
December 14, 1921

Henrietta Leavitt Buried in Cambridge

On this day in 1921, Henrietta Leavitt, a scientist at the Harvard Observatory, was buried in Cambridge. Her premature death cut short a brilliant career as an astronomer. In the late nineteenth century, observatory director...

Boston Ends Discharge of Sewer Sludge into Harbor

December 24, 1991
December 24, 1991

Boston Ends Discharge of Sewer Sludge into Harbor

On this day in 1991, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority ended an age-old practice of dumping sewer sludge directly into Boston Harbor. Proponents of the Boston Harbor Project celebrated this milestone in an 11-year, $3.6...

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