From the Archives: A Visit with Dr. Stevens

stevens12114January 22, 2014

In this photograph dating from circa 1955-1960, two visitors look on in fascination as Janice Stevens, M.D. demonstrates an electroencephalography machine. The patient herself is barely visible, lying down at left. Other photographs from the same sequence identify the two visitors as Mrs. Roy T. Norton and Mrs. Norman Ross of the Sunday Club, a women's auxiliary of the Lions Club, which had recently presented a cash donation to support neurology at the medical school.

While the technology must have seemed astonishingly new to Mrs. Norton and Mrs. Ross, EEG technology already had several decades of history behind it by the time of this photograph. The earliest EEGs were recorded in the 1910s-1920s, and the first EEG laboratory opened at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1936. By the mid-twentieth century, technological improvements such as the transistor, along with the increased commercialization of equipment, led electroencephalography to revolutionize neurological procedures.

After graduating from Reed College in 1944, Dr. Stevens earned her M.D. degree from Boston University in 1949. She joined University of Oregon Medical School (pre-cursor to OHSU) in 1955, becoming the first female faculty member in what was then the Neurology Division. Dr. Stevens was ahead of her time in other ways, too: As an avid cyclist in the 1970s, she advocated for safer bicycle access on Oregon's road systems.

More photographs, artifacts, and publications from the Departments of Neurology and Neurological Surgery are displayed in the OHSU Library exhibit Invention and Innovation: The Founders of Neuroscience in Oregon. The exhibit is on view in the Main Library on the 3rd floor of the BICC building from January-March 2014.

Contributed by Maija Anderson, Archivist, OHSU Historical Collections & Archives

Pictured Dr. Stevens and team