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The Howard A. Kelly Collection

  • Creator: Kelly, Howard Atwood (1858 - 1943)

  • Collection Date: 1870 - 1940

  • Extent: 50 linear feet

  • Complete Finding Aid
Howard A. Kelly
by D. H. L. Rembski
oil on canvas board, 37 by 31.5 inches, mid-twentieth century


Howard A. Kelly was born in Camden, New Jersey, and reared in nearby Philadelphia. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an A.B. in 1877 and received an M.D. from the same institution in 1882. He interned at Episcopal Hospital (1882-1883) and then entered private practice in Philadelphia. In 1883, he founded Kensington Hospital for Women in Philadelphia. From 1888 to1889, he served as associate professor and professor of obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania. Between 1886 and 1889, he made various trips to Europe to study and visit hospitals.

Recruited by William Osler, Kelly came to Johns Hopkins in 1889 as gynecologist and obstetrician and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the school of medicine which was being formed. A few years later, he also joined the staff of a private hospital that his colleague Hunter Robb had established. In 1912, the private hospital was renamed the Howard A. Kelly Hospital. He retained an affiliation with the Kelly Hospital until it closed in 1940. At Johns Hopkins, Kelly rose through the academic ranks. He served as professor of gynecology and obstetrics (1889-1899), professor of gynecology (1899-1919), and emeritus professor of gynecology (1919-1943).

Kelly was a highly innovative surgeon. He invented numerous surgical devices, pioneered many new operative procedures for the female sexual organs, kidneys, and ureters, and was an early proponent of the use of radium for the treatment of cancer. Kelly contributed significantly to the establishment of gynecology as a specialty. He was a highly effective teacher who taught mainly by demonstration in small groups. A prolific writer, Kelly published extensively on surgical subjects as well as medical biography, botany, and the natural sciences. He was a deeply religious man who engaged in an active course of civic work throughout his life.

Hopkins Affiliations

1889 - 1943 Johns Hopkins Hospital
1889 - 1943 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Scope and Content

The Howard A. Kelly Collection spans his entire medical career. Series include professional and family correspondence, manuscripts, notes, published material, photographs, scrapbooks, genealogical records, and mementos. In addition, there are personal diaries from 1870 to 1937. Particularly noteworthy are the large numbers of stereographs showing the evolution of surgical procedures in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century gynecology.

Policy on Access and Use

This collection may contain some restricted records. Materials pertaining to patients, students, employees, and human research subjects, as well as unprocessed collections and recent administrative records, carry restrictions on access. For more information about the policies and procedures for access, see Policy on Access and Use.

Permissions and Credits

When citing material from this collection, credit The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. For permission to reproduce images, contact the holder of the copyright.

For permissions:
archives at jhmi dot edu.