WLM ID: aiwt | Catalog Record
Designed by Dr. Isabella C. Herb (1863?-1943) and manufactured by V. Mueller & Co. of Chicago, the Herb-Mueller Ether Vapor and Vacuum Apparatus was introduced around 1933. This machine provided two important functions: a means to administer ether, as well as a way to suction blood and mucous from the surgical area and the patient’s airway. It was especially popular with dentists and ear, nose and throat surgeons.
After the death of her husband, Dr. Herb attended Northwestern University Women’s Medical School while in her mid-20s. She proceeded to build an impressive career during a time when female physicians faced a great deal of prejudice and discrimination. In 1899 she became the first "physician anesthetist" at the Rochester, Minnesota Mayo Clinic. In 1909 Dr. Herb was appointed chief anesthetist at Chicago’s Presbyterian Hospital and Rush Medical College. Herb was active in many professional organizations, and authored numerous scholarly articles as well as a chapter on general anesthesia in the popular textbook Oxford Loose-Leaf Surgery. The ether and vacuum machine and an anesthetic screen are just two of her contributions to anesthetic equipment design.