Friday, March 25, 2011

Hot off the presses

MGH history book now available

IT'S FINALLY HERE: From left, Bull brings Stoeckle and Slavin the first copies of the newly published MGH history book.

THE QUEUE steadily stretched along the hallway outside the MGH Gift and Flower Shop on Ellison 1 last Tuesday. The individuals – all holding a copy of the new MGH history book “Something in the Ether: A Bicentennial History of Massachusetts General Hospital, 1811– 2011” – were patiently waiting their turn to meet Webster Bull, who along with his daughter Martha, wrote the 527-page chronicle of the 200-year history and heritage of the MGH. Bull was on hand throughout the afternoon to sign books and talk to readers.

In 2007, the MGH commissioned the writing of “Something in the Ether” to commemorate the hospital’s bicentennial. With his daughter, Bull began his three-year writing journey, which entailed extensive research of archival notes and medical records and numerous interviews with longtime MGHers.

“The compilation includes two centuries worth of stories, anecdotes, interviews and more than 200 historic and current photographs,” says Bull. “It was fascinating for me to interview more than 100 doctors, nurses, trustees, administrators and employees, and especially to discover the passionate loyalty that this hospital engenders.”

First to receive the published history were Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, and longstanding MGH physicians John D. Stoeckle, MD, Honorary Physician, and Paul S. Russell, MD, a pioneer in the field of transplant surgery and chair of the MGH History Committee. Both Stoeckle and Russell served on the MGH Bicentennial Book Committee and provided invaluable firsthand knowledge, information and resources to the Bulls.

“This book is a great treasure,” said Slavin. “A lot of work went into this, and many people were interviewed for the content. Webster and Martha did a great job capturing the spirit of the hospital and creating a lively and engaging story.”

Stoeckle echoed Slavin’s enthusiasm upon taking his first look at the published book.“It’s beautiful,” he said. “I think it will go far outside Boston. The book contains the inspiring stories and colorful characters in our hospital’s history – past and present. I’m going to reread this book tonight.”

The history book is available for $30 at the MGH Gift and Flower Shops and online at and Throughout March, “Something in the Ether” will be offered at the MGH Gift and Flower Shops at a 20 percent discount, and preferred customer cardholders will receive an additional 10 percent off.

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