The Phineas Gage 150th. Anniversary

A commemoration of the accident to Phineas Gage was held in Cavendish on the 150th anniversary of the event in 1998.  Its program was drawn up by the Cavendish Chamber of Commerce, the Cavendish Historical Society, and the Cavendish Daughters of the American Revolution.  They decided the Anniversary should be marked over the weekend of the 12-13th of September, 1998 (the accident itself having taken place at 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday 13th. September, 1848). 

Day 1: Saturday 12th. September, 1998

A Festival of History
Phineas Gage 150th. Anniversary Proclamation

On 26th. May, 1998, at the Cavendish Town office, the Governor of Vermont, Dr. Howard Dean, read a proclamation passed by the Vermont State Legislature. The proclamation noted Phineas Gage's survival of his devastating brain injury, went on to stress the role of the brain and the need for extending knowledge of its functions, and noted that a series of special educational events focusing on the importance of the brain were to be held in Cavendish on 13th. September, 1998. It therefore proclaimed that day as Phineas Gage 150th. Anniversary Commemoration Day in Vermont

The commemoration events included an exhibition arranged by the Cavendish Chamber of Commerce in which Phineas Gage's skull and tamping iron (on loan from the Warren Museum at Harvard Medical School) and photographs, drawings, and publications relevant to Gage's accident were displayed.

Tours were conducted by the Cavendish Historical Society to Dr. Harlow's house and the church near it, and the sites of Mr Joseph Adams' tavern where Gage recovered, of the cabinet maker's shop where his coffin was prepared, and the accident itself, some 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometres) south of the town.

A special commemorative envelope was issued by the Cavendish Chamber of Commerce and the US Postal service made available a special Phineas Gage cancellation based on Harlow’s illustration of the skull. Envelopes could be cancelled at a booth on the Town Green.


The John Martyn Harlow Frontal Lobe Symposium

The John Martyn Harlow Frontal Lobe Symposium was held at the Okemo Mountain Lodge Resort, Ludlow, Vermont on Saturday, 12th. September. The Symposium was under the auspices of The World Federation of Neurology, the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences, The School of Psychology, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia, and The Cavendish Chamber of Commerce. 

Dr. H. Richard Tyler, Professor of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts was the Symposium Patron. 

The Symposium program was as follows:

Opening and Session 1, 9:00-10:30. Brain damage and personality change in Phineas Gage 

Opening: Dr. H. Richard Tyler 

Chair: Prof. Malcolm Macmillan, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia;
Discussants: Dr. Dan Tranel, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa;
Dr. H. Richard Tyler

Session 2, 10:45-12:15. The surgical treatment of frontal lobe damage and disease 

Chair: Dr. Samuel Greenblatt, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Discussants: Dr. Fred Barker II, Tumor Center Neurological Service, Boston General Hospital;
Professor James L Stone, Division of Neurosurgery, Cook County Hospital Chicago 

Lunch and visit to the exhibition at Cavendish to see Gage's skull and the tamping iron. 

Session 3, 2:15-3:45. Diagnosis and rehabilitation in cases of frontal damage 

Chair: Dr. Peter Koehler, Department of Neurology, De Wever Hospital, Heerlen, The Netherlands;
Discussants: Dr. Sharon McDowell, Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, Philadelphia.
Dr. Catherine Mateer, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Vancouver, Canada 

Session 4 and Closing, 4:00-5:30. Problems with current methods of studying frontal function 

Chair: Professor Malcolm Macmillan
Discussants: Dr. Robert Knight, Department of Neurology, VA Medical Center, Martinez, California;
Dr. Arthur P. Shimamura, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley 

Day 2: Sunday 13th. September 

At 9.30 a.m. in the Stone Church, Cavendish Town, Professor Malcolm Macmillan gave a lecture entitled Restoring Phineas Gage: A 150th. Retrospective. Before the lecture, Tom Sabo played his guitar and the Rev. Edward H. Williams IV, the great, great, grandson of the Dr. Edward Higginson Williams who was the first medical practitioner to reach Gage, spoke briefly.

The ceremony to unveil the commemorative plaque began at 10.30 a.m. on the Cavendish Town Green. After short speeches by Dr. Denise Natale (Cavendish Chamber of Commerce), and Prof. Malcolm Macmillan, the plaque was unveiled by Dr. Natale, Sandra Stearns (Cavendish Town Selectman), and Prof. Macmillan. State Senators Cheryl Rivers, Richard McCormick, and State Representative Gary Richardson were present. 

Day 2 of the Festival of History Program concluded shortly after the unveiling with an informal walk to the site of the accident.

Phineas Gage and Cavendish, Vermont

The Town of Cavendish (pop. 1,300 approx) was chartered by George III, King of England, on 12th October 1761.  It is in Windsor County, central Vermont, about 20 miles west from I-91, Exit 8.  It is located on Vermont Route 131 about 2 miles east of the junction of 131 with 103 at Proctorsville, and 5 miles east of the junction of 100 and 103 at Ludlow. 

More information about the history of Cavendish is available at the town of Cavendish website and by using 'Cavendish' as a search term on the Vermont State Department of Tourism web site.


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