RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports

Doctor Curmudgeon® “Murder is Her Hobby.”

By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist

“Murder is Her Hobby” was an exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“Her” is Frances Glessner Lee, known as the “Mother of Forensic Science.”

A friend of her brother’s had become a pathology professor at Harvard Medical School and was a chief medical examiner in Boston. These interactions with him and her fascination with the stories of Sherlock Holmes led to her interest in forensic investigation. Glessner wanted to understand the truth behind crimes.

Being a woman, she couldn’t pursue studies in this area. And so she found another way: her precise dioramas.

By creating crime scene miniatures in superb detail, she could use these to train officers as forensic investigators.

The Smithsonian exhibit caption described the brilliant work of this woman:

“Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” — exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes — to train homicide investigators to convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell. These dollhouse-sized dioramas of true crimes, created in the first half of the 20th century and still used in forensic training today, helped to revolutionize the emerging field of homicide investigation.”

Since Glessner was born in Chicago in 1878, I can only imagine how difficult it was to accomplish all that she did; especially becoming the first female police captain in the United States.

To recognize her ground breaking work, the New Hampshire State Police made her a captain, and so she was the first woman to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Wikipedia quotes New Hampshire Police superintendent Ralph Caswell, “This was not an honorary post. She was actually a full-fledged captain with all the authority and responsibility of the post.”

Her tiny models were so exact that the corpses were accurate in details of bloating and discoloration. Pools of blood were faultless. Tablecloths were rigorously detailed as faded and marks could be seen where items had been removed.

Wikipedia comments that “Eighteen of the original dioramas were still used for training purposes by Harvard Associates I Police Science in 1999.” They are now housed for training at the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

An interesting note is that she was the heiress to the International Harvester fortune and could afford the expense of her ingenious models and teaching method. She was able to present Harvard with a substantial gift, as she endowed a chair in legal medicine. She also gifted the Harvard Associates in Police Science which has a special division called the Frances Glessner Lee Homicide School.

*** (Editor’s note from Galahad, the Siberian Husky who is Doctor Curmudgeon’s cousin and her editor: I find it quite fascinating that she also married an attorney who was a descendant of General Robert E. Lee)
Dr. Curmudgeon suggests “Bitter Medicine”, Dr. Eugene Eisman’s story of his experiences–from the humorous to the intense—as a young army doctor serving in the Vietnam War.
Bitter Medicine by Eugene H. Eisman, M.D. –on Amazon

Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.

SERMO www.sermo.com

Click Here to Order Boxing Interviews Of A Lifetime By “Bad” Brad Berkwitt