J. Mason Warren (1811-1867)


Dr. J. Mason Warren

The third generation of the Warrens associated with Harvard Medical School was represented by Jonathan Mason Warren. Born on February 5, 1811, the fourth child and third son of Dr. John Collins Warren, J. Mason Warren entered Harvard College in 1827, and received his medical degree in 1832. Like his father, he continued his studies of surgery with some of the most eminent men in Europe, returning to practice in Boston in 1835. Of the five Warrens attached to Harvard Medical School, however, J. Mason Warren was the only one never to hold a position on the faculty.

In 1846, Dr. J. Mason Warren was appointed visiting surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was one of the earliest Americans to specialize in plastic and reconstructive surgery, performing the first operations for rhinoplasty in the United States, developing a procedure for closure of the cleft palate, and providing one of the earliest accounts of a successful skin graft. Dr. Warren first met William T. G. Morton in the autumn of 1846 and introduced him to his father, Dr. John Collins Warren. J. Mason Warren used ether anesthesia administered by Morton in his private practice as early as November 1846 and is believed to have anesthestized the first child, a 12-year-old, for a surgical procedure in December of that year.

Jonathan Mason Warren died on August 19, 1867.

Dr. J. Mason Warren (1811-1867)
, circa 1860

From an original donated by the Estate of Dr. Elliott Carr Cutler
to the Harvard Medical Library, 1948


John Collins Warren (1778-1856)

Memoranda Book : manuscript, 1832

Before J. Mason Warren departed to pursue his medical studies in Europe, Dr. John Collins Warren composed for him a volume of miscellaneous advice, suggesting lectures to attend and eminent physicians to meet, and charging him with certain commissions, including the acquisition of new medical and surgical books and instruments and choice pathological specimens. He notes, in particular, "Observe the manner and mode of different lecturers. Whether they use notes or not and every circumstance that can improve my lectures. For example, whether they have any person to aid them in doing operations on the dead body before a class. How they manage dissecting room demonstrations. Making preparations, demonstrating difficult parts, as nerves and deep seated viscera. These things will become very common to you, but to me they will be very interesting."

Purchased for the Harvard Medical Library, 1960

Case record of first American rhinoplasty

J. Mason Warren (1811-1867)

Surgical Casebook : manuscript, 1832-1843

After his graduation from Harvard Medical School in 1832, Dr. Jonathan Mason Warren, like many American medical students, went to Europe and continued his clinical education in the Hôtel-Dieu, La Pitié, and other hospitals of Paris. There he studied the surgical work of Guillaume Dupuytren and Philibert-Joseph Roux and attended lectures of Gabriel Andral. J. Mason Warren returned to Boston in 1835 and assumed his father's medical practice, specializing in plastic surgery.

This volume contains observations of cases Dr. Warren observed in the wards of Paris, but also contains some records of his own patients-including this notable 1836 case of the first rhinoplasty performed in the United States.

Gift of Dr. Richard Warren to the Harvard Medical Library, 1984



Illustrations of first American rhinoplasty

Rhinoplastic Operations with Some Remarks on the Autoplastic Methods
(Boston : D. Clapp, Jr., 1840)

Dr. J. Mason Warren published his account of the first American rhinoplasty in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal for March 8, 1837. The article is a landmark in the history of plastic surgery in this country. It was reprinted with two additional cases in 1840. The case appears again, thirty years later, in Dr. Warren's Surgical operations with cases and observations (Boston : Ticknor and Fields, 1867).

Gift of Dr. J. Mason Warren to Harvard College Library, 1844, and transferred to the Harvard Medical Library, 1915


J. Collins Warren (1842-1927)

Dr. J. Collins Warren

Born on May 4, 1842, the fourth member of the Warren dynasty, John Collins-or "Coll"-Warren was also Harvard-educated, graduating from the College in 1863 and the Medical School in 1866. After completing his studies in Europe, he returned to Harvard Medical School, joining the faculty as an instructor in surgery in 1871. He became a full professor of surgery in 1893, then the first Moseley Professor of Surgery from 1899 until he was granted emeritus status in 1907. J. Collins Warren was a member of the staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital from 1869 to 1905 and was then on the hospital's Board of Consultation from 1905 until his death on November 3, 1927.

Dr. J. Collins Warren (1842-1927), circa 1890

From the collections of the Boston Medical Library

Like his grandfather, Dr. Warren's principal area of research and expertise was the surgical treatment of tumors. He published extensively on this subject, specializing in surgical treatments for breast cancer. He developed a particular model of dissection knife for use with tumors of the breast and had it produced by Codman and Shurtleff, the famous Boston firm of instrument makers.

For nearly a quarter of a century, he was the chairman of the Cancer Commission of Harvard University and was instrumental in raising funds for the construction of the Collis P. Huntingdon Memorial Hospital for Cancer Research. The Longwood campus remains Dr. Warren's most enduring memorial at Harvard Medical School, as he and Dr. Henry Pickering Bowditch together were the driving force for raising donations for the construction of the Quad facilities and encouraging local hospitals to remove to the new medical area.


J. Collins Warren photograph album


J. Collins Warren (1842-1927)

Photograph Album, 1866-1869

Following in the tradition of his father and grandfather, John Collins Warren-usually known as "Coll"-studied medicine at Harvard and then completed his education in England, France, and Germany.

This album of carte-de-visite style photographs was assembled by Coll Warren during his European sojourn. In addition to some commercial prints of royalty, generals, statesmen, and other public figures, the album includes a number of photographs of physicians Dr. Warren encountered in the course of his travels and studies. There are also some personal items, such as these photographs of Coll's sister, Elinor Warren Motley, and J. Collins Warren himself with his nephew, Mason Warren Hammond.

From the collections of the Harvard Medical Library


Dr. J. Collins Warren in surgery

Dr. J. Collins Warren performing one of the first abdominal operations in the Bradlee Ward at Massachusetts General Hospital, 1889

From an original presented by Dr. J. Collins Warren to the Harvard Medical Library, 1921


Drs. Henry P. Bowditch and J. Collins Warren


Drs. Henry P. Bowditch and J. Collins Warren, 1906

From the collections of the Harvard Medical Library

Address Delivered at the Dedication of the New Buildings of the Harvard Medical School
typescript, September 25, 1906

Just as his great-grandfather had been instrumental in establishing the Harvard Medical School in the eighteenth century, so Dr. J. Collins Warren provided the impetus for the construction of the buildings of the Quad at the beginning of the twentieth. With Dr. Henry P. Bowditch, J. Collins Warren developed plans for the Longwood campus, persuaded hospitals to relocate to the area, and obtained funds from John Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Mrs. Collis P. Huntingdon to make the new facilities a reality.

Dr. Warren's speech was the opening address at the dedication ceremonies.

Bequest of Dr. John Warren to the Harvard Medical Library, 1928


Typed Letter Signed : Boston, Massachusetts, to Dr. George W. Gay, October 15, 1924

Dr. J. Collins Warren was one of the foremost proponents of Joseph Lister's antiseptic procedures during surgical operations. In this letter, written near the end of his life, he recalls his meeting with Lister in 1869 and his first personal experiences with antisepsis at Massachusetts General Hospital.

 From the collections of the Boston Medical Library


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